Most people may not realize that gum disease is not only a common problem in humans, but also a serious problem in dogs. According to veterinarians, 85 percent of dogs over five years old have gum disease, which develops when food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line and form plaque. Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent this from happening! Here are some tips on how to keep your best friend’s friend’s mouth clean and healthy.
First, choose a brush that you and your dog are comfortable with. Pet stores carry toothbrushes for dogs as well as small, plastic brushes that fit on your finger. You can also just wrap a piece of clean gauze around your finger. Pet stores also carry toothpaste that comes in a variety of flavors that your dog will enjoy. Experiment to find the one your dog likes, but make sure to use one specifically for dogs, since he will swallow a lot of it. You’ll also need plenty of treats handy.
DogBefore you start, get your dog accustomed to having his muzzle and mouth handled. First, dip your finger into something like chicken broth or peanut butter. Let him lick your finger and gently rub your fingers against the sides of his teeth and gums. Also lift his lips as you might when brushing. Do this twice a day for two or three days. Occasionally use your dog’s toothpaste on your finger so he gets used to it.
When he’s okay with you opening and touching his mouth, start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together. Lift his upper lip and angle the bristles so they reach the gum line and brush in small circles. As you move along the gum line, some light bleeding may occur. That’s okay, but ongoing or heavy bleeding may mean you’re brushing too hard. It may also be a sign of gum disease.
At first, brush a few teeth at a time, working up each day to about two minutes total. If your dog resists, try starting on the outsides of the canine and back teeth, where plaque collects the most. Get the insides if you can, but don’t stress too much. His tongue helps keep that area clean.
Throughout the brushing session, keep the mood light and keep talking to him. Remind him what a good dog he is by stroking his jowls and when you’re finished, reward him with the treats or extra attention.
If you have issues with excess bleeding or difficulty getting him accustomed to brushing, talk with your vet for more information.