Like people, dogs get plaque from bacteria and food buildup on their teeth. That plaque is a large contribution to the well-known phenomenon called “doggie breath”. However, bad-smelling breath is just a symptom; the cause is unhealthy levels of buildup that lead to gum disease and eventually will even cause your dog to lose his teeth.
I’ve had problems with plaque buildup on my dog’s teeth in the past, but my new dog, a one-year-old Papillon that I call Batty for many different reasons, has the most problems with plaque buildup of any dog I’ve owned. Smaller breeds tend to have more difficulties due to the limited space in their mouths.
The same is true of the brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds. Keeping dogs’ teeth clean should be a daily job and, with small breeds and brachycephalic breeds, it must be a daily job. Cleaning dogs’ teeth at home will save you a lot of money in dental work at the vet’s office. The problem is that many dog owners don’t know how to clean their dog’s teeth.
Why you should brush your dog’s teeth at home regularly:
- Keeps their gums healthy
- Keeps teeth healthy
- Keeps their breath smelling great
- Saves you a lot of money at the vet’s
How to Physically Brush a Dog’s Teeth
There are wonderful dog teeth cleaning products available to make the job so much easier. One way to clean dog teeth is to get right in and brush them. I’ve used regular human tooth brushes, always the softest ones I could find to prevent damaging sensitive gum tissue.
When you brush your own teeth, it’s pretty easy to tell when you’re pressing too hard, but it is more difficult when brushing your dog’s teeth. Another method of physical brushing is to get a finger brush. Finger brushes are little rubber finger covers with knobby protrusions that brush the teeth and massage the gums.
When you brush your dog’s teeth, always use toothpaste made for dogs. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that it tastes better to your dog. Most dog toothpaste has a meat flavoring added to appeal to them. The second reason is human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and your dog is not going to rinse and spit, they are going to swallow. It’s safer for them to swallow a toothpaste that won’t harm them if they eat too much of it.
Put a little paste on the brush or on your finger brush and place the opposite hand over your dog’s muzzle, lifting the lip on one side with your fingers. Insert the toothbrush or your finger into the side of your dog’s mouth and gently rub the teeth in the same manner you would while brushing your own teeth.
The best stroke is from top to bottom so you are pushing the debris from the teeth downward. With many dogs, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. A few will relish the operation, but most will struggle to varying degrees, and some will try to chew the brush (or your finger).
Easier Ways to Get that Sparkling Doggy Smile
There are some alternatives that you can use if your dog won’t cooperate. Check out this review on Greenies dental chews to find out how these delicious dog treats actually clean your dog’s teeth while they play.
My last dog was a Doberman who was very loving and sweet, but since I had taught her not to mouth (chew) on hands as a puppy, she figured that meant “never ever to put my hand in her mouth”. Justi would clamp down tight and struggle to turn her head away if I even tried to push my finger inside her lips.
This made using a toothbrush or finger toothbrush almost impossible. At the very least, tooth brushing was a chore. Then I found out about Greenies and never had to worry about it again, and Justi had brilliant, white, sparkling chompers.
My little Batty, the crazy Papillon, is the opposite of Justi. She’ll gladly let me put a brush or my finger in her mouth, and then proceed to try and eat them. With Batty, the decision is a no-brainer. Greenies are a finger saver, and keep me from spending money on new tooth brushes every day. So you can decide. The physical method of cleaning your dog’s teeth, or let them do it themselves and get shiny healthy teeth with Greenies that you can find at ValuePetSupplies.com