An informal vote of the team here at COAST+RANGE confirmed that brushing is one of our least favorite tasks as pet parents (only slightly ahead of poop pick-up) yet dental care is an essential part of ensuring your dog has a long and healthy life. Here are some tips and tricks for making the process a little less painful for both you and your pup.
Why is brushing important?
Brushing a dog’s teeth isn’t just about fresh breath - although that’s a bonus for sure - it’s a critical part of helping maintain their health. If left unchecked, plaque build-up can lead to periodontal disease. In the short-term, this can lead to problems like infections and difficulty chewing food. Long-term, those infections can spread to other organs including the liver, kidneys, and heart valves and may lead to more serious problems, so it’s a good idea to brush regularly!
What you will need:
- A dog toothbrush appropriate for the size of your dog (most doggie toothbrushes will have a small-dog end and a large-dog end).
- Dog toothpaste (never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth). We recommend using a toothpaste that made with natural ingredients like Mercola’s Dental Gel available for $20 plus shipping from shop.mercola.com.
Is your dog skittish when you brush their teeth? Take some time in advance of brushing to get them comfortable with having your hands in and near their mouth.
Start by gently running your hands around outside of their mouth several times a week. As your dog gets more comfortable with this, you can then practice running your fingers across the outside of their teeth. Praise and reward your dog with a high protein dog treat each time you do this and they will actually start to look forward to teeth brushing!
Time to brush:
|STEP 1: Once your dog is comfortable with your hands being in and near their mouth (see our #doghack above) you are ready to begin brushing. NOTE: if your dog is uncomfortable with you brushing their teeth, don’t force the issue. Talk with your veterinarian, most vet’s offices will brush your dog’s teeth for you for a fee.|
|STEP 2: Put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and begin gently brushing the teeth and gum line in a back and forth (horizontal) fashion. No need to brush the teeth on the inside - most of the plaque is on the outside anyway, and their tongue will take care of the insides.|
|STEP 3: Brush once a week if possible. Don’t forget to see your veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up or any time you see a change in your dog’s health.|
Over time your dog will get more comfortable and may even come to enjoy getting their teeth brushed - especially if they get a high protein treat as a reward. The trick is to just get started and to make it a habit. Good luck!
For the LOVE + CARE of dogs,
The team at COAST+RANGE