75% of dogs over age 3 suffer from periodontal disease. This is an irreversible condition that can lead to loss of teeth, abscesses, and other painful conditions such as bone loss and plain old tooth decay. Nobody wants that for their dog, but for owners on a budget, taking the dog to the vet for a cleaning every six months simply is not an option. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent these issues to begin with.
Brush Your Dogs Teeth
I spent a total of $10 setting my dog up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene when I purchased my dog ClearQuest Dental Gel (a toothpaste I highly recommend both as a dog groomer and dog owner) and a dog toothbrush made by ProDental. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. Not only is the fluoride bad for him, the foaming action can make a ridiculous mess.
Start off slow. If your dog has never had his teeth brushed before, jamming a brush into his mouth and scrubbing away might not be the best introduction. Get him used to the taste of the toothpaste first by letting him lick it off your finger, or if he needs more incentive place some on a crunchy treat and offer it to him.
You can also get him used to the idea of having his mouth handled by rubbing his muzzle, lifting his lips, and massaging his gums with your fingers before introducing the brush. When your dog seems comfortable having his mouth handled, place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your dog’s toothbrush and gently brush from back to front on both sides of your dog’s mouth.
For best results, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, although weekly will still give positives results. Always try to make tooth brushing a positive experience for your dog. Even if you can’t brush your dogs teeth right away, a few positive sessions with you may be enough to change your dogs mind. Next step that you may also consider to know the proper way of brushing your dog’s teeth is through online tutorials. Aside from consulting with vet, you can also check some tips online. As a responsible pet owner, you need to know what’s best for your pet.
If you can’t brush your dogs teeth
If your dog simply won’t allow you to brush his teeth, there are still several options open regarding your dog’s oral health. First, many groom shops offer tooth brushing for a minimal fee of $5-$10. Many times dogs will allow strangers to brush their teeth, but not their actual owners. This is also common with nail trimming and a few other aspects of dog care. If the groomer can’t brush your dogs teeth either, be sure to have a vet check to make sure your dog isn’t simply reacting to pain. (See: When the vet is necessary.)
Another option if you can’t brush your dog’s teeth is to get a water additive such as AquaDent Water Additive. Be sure to check the bottle to make sure the label says it reduces plaque. Some water additives are simply scented to cover up the smell of your dogs breath!
When you should go to the vet
Before beginning any at home oral hygiene routine, visually inspect your dog’s teeth and gums. If you see sparkling white teeth and healthy looking gums, you’re on the right track to successful oral hygiene. If your dog has some yellowing, you may already be seeing gum disease. If you notice very bad breath, excessively red gums, thick tartar build up, loose teeth or obvious pain, your dog may need tooth cleaning, or possibly even some teeth extracted. Don’t delay in taking your dog to the vet if you see any of these issues. Your dog may be in a great deal of pain.
You can prevent your dog from ever having to have a professional cleaning by starting tooth brushing early, and supplementing your dog with plenty of chew toys to help massage gums and scrape teeth in between your own efforts. Have your vet look at your dogs teeth each time they go in for their vaccines to make sure you’re dog’s oral hygiene is adequate, and that his gums and teeth are as fresh and clean as possible.