It’s always important to make sure that your dog is able to be as healthy as possible. While most dog owners are sure to get their pets the right kind of food and even to make sure that they get the right kind of exercise, the truth is that an awful lot of dog owners don’t pay quite as much attention to their dogs teeth as they should. If you want your dog to be as healthy as possible, though, you’ve got to pay a lot of attention to his or her dental health – and for most, this means taking some time to brush the dog’s teeth on a regular basis.
Figuring out what it means to brush your dog’s teeth can be tough, though. It seems like there’s not enough information out there to tell you exactly why you should spend any time brushing your dog’s teeth, to say nothing how of how often you need to do so.
The good news, though, is that both questions are relatively easy to answer and that doing so will help you to keep your dog even healthier than he or she might be right now.
Why Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
While it’s absolutely very important to know how often you need to brush your dog’s teeth, the truth is that you might need a little bit of motivation to start doing so. Luckily, knowing why it’s so important that your dog’s teeth get brushed is a good place to start.
Don’t think about brushing your dog’s teeth as something extra. Instead, think of it as a vital part of making sure that your dog stays healthy. Your dog’s mouth is just another part of his or her body, after all, and it still needs the same level of care that you’d provide to any other body part. If you ignore your dog’s mouth, then, you’re ignoring a place that’s vital for your dog’s survival.
It turns out that your dog’s mouth can be a hotbed for certain types of bacterial growth. Those bacteria won’t necessarily stay in your dog’s mouth, which means that they can cause a whole host of different kinds of issues in your dog’s body. In short, your dog’s mouth is an incubator for the kinds of things that can greatly reduce your dog’s potential lifespan.
With that in mind, you definitely want to make sure that your dog is getting his or her teeth brushed often. Doing so doesn’t just make his or her breath smell better – it gives you a chance to spend more time with a healthy dog. All you need to know, then, is exactly how often you need to brush your dog’s teeth.
How Often Should I Brush Your My Dog’s Teeth?
Let’s start with the ideal since that’s where most veterinarians would love for you to be. If you can possibly manage it, you should definitely brush your dog’s teeth every day. As it stands, most vets would love for you to simply brush your dog’s teeth as often as possible.
Let’s be real, though – brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis probably isn’t going to happen. It’s very time-consuming and many dogs won’t like the process. That’s why it’s so important for you to find a way to at least hit the minimum.
So, how often do you need to brush? Most experts would tell you that you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week if you want to make sure that you’re helping to deal with all of his or her major dental issues. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to make these sessions very long – most dog owners are going to be able to get away with brushing their dogs’ teeth for about two minutes per session as long as they use the right products.
By the way, you’ll also want to make sure that you start brushing your dog’s teeth a lot earlier in his or her life than you might think. Even if you’re not quite ready to break out the toothpaste, you’re probably going to want to start familiarizing even a young puppy with the process as soon as possible. At the very least, you need to be aware that most dental diseases are going to be able to take hold by the time your dog is three years old.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Now you know how often you need to brush your dog’s teeth. What you might not know, though, is how to do the job correctly. Luckily, this process can be broken down into a series of very simple steps.
Gather Your Supplies
The first step in brushing your dog’s teeth is to make sure that you have everything you need for the task. You will definitely want to start with a toothbrush that’s made specifically for dogs – a human toothbrush is probably not going to get the job done. In fact, a human toothbrush has the potential to snap and end up hurting your dog, so choose either a long-handled dog toothbrush or a finger brush to keep your dog’s mouth clean.
As you might imagine, you’ll also need a toothpaste that’s meant specifically for dogs. This toothpaste doesn’t just have ingredients that are meant to keep dogs’ mouths healthy, but they also come in flavors that dogs find much more tolerable. While you might not love the idea of beef-flavored toothpaste, there’s a good chance that your dog will like the idea.
Acclimate Your Dog to Brushing
It’s probably not all that surprising to note that your dog might have a hard time adjusting to the idea of getting his or her teeth brushed. This is why making your dog comfortable with the process is usually a good idea and why following some basic acclimatization steps can help.
The best way to get your dog used to get his or her teeth brushed is to start out slow. While your busy schedule might make starting out with a quick brushing seem easier, the truth is that the more time you spend on the first brushing, the easier it will be in the future. Try to start out by getting your dog used to having his or her mouth touched and then introduce your dog to the taste of both the toothbrush and the toothpaste. Reward your dog for letting himself or herself being handled like this with a good treat.
You should also make sure not to push your dog too far during your first brushing. Don’t be afraid to take a break, for example, and make sure that you let your dog dictate the pace. If your dog starts to seem distressed, make sure that you stop brushing and take some time to make him or her feel better. If your dog is a fan of CBD oil, this might be a great opportunity to give them some to keep them calm.
Finally, make sure that you’re brushing your dog when he or she is relaxed. Don’t come right in from playing and brush your dog’s teeth – try this out right before bed or right before he or she usually sits down for the night. This will make your dog much less likely to struggle.
Now that your dog is ready, you can feel comfortable brushing his or her teeth. While humans need to brush both the outside and inside of their teeth, you really need to only focus on the outside of your dog’s teeth. This is where most of the bacteria will end up growing, but more importantly, this is also the safest way to ensure that your dog stays healthy. If you choose to brush on the inside, you run the risk of your dog biting off the head of the toothbrush and swallowing it, which might cause your dog pain and could even lead to the need for surgery.
What if You Can’t Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
Simply put, there are some dogs who are not going to let you brush their teeth. These might be old dogs who just don’t like the sensation or younger dogs who are too energetic, but you don’t need to waste too much time trying to force something that obviously isn’t going to happen. Instead, you’ll want to look at any number of products that will help you to ensure that your dog continues to have good oral health.
Chews are generally a good idea for those dogs who just don’t want to have a toothbrush in their mouths. You need to be careful with chews, though, as they can become choking hazards. Consider making sure that you spend as much time watching your dog eat one of these chews as you would any other kind of treat, and make sure that you don’t just give your dog a dental chew and then walk away.
Regardless of what you choose to use, do make sure that you’re using something that’s approved for cleaning dogs’ teeth. The oral health of your pet is too important to trust to a home remedy, so stick with something that has a veterinary seal of approval.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often do you need to clean your dog’s teeth?
In a best-case scenario, you’ll want to brush your dog’s teeth for a few minutes every day. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do that, though, you should try to brush your dog’s teeth at least two times a week. This should be enough to help your dog to keep great oral health and to ensure that any bacterial growth gets slowed down.
2. When should you start brushing your dog’s teeth?
It’s usually a good idea to start brushing your dog’s teeth as a puppy. The younger the dog, the better, as this is a process that definitely does take some getting used to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t teach an older dog how to get his or her teeth to brush, but it does mean that you will generally have an easier time with your dog if you are able to start with him or her as a puppy.
3. Is it too late to start brushing the dog’s teeth?
It’s probably not too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth. If you have an older dog, you’re probably going to have to put in more work to acclimate him or her to this process, though. That means going slowly, consistently rewarding your dog with treats, and making sure that you don’t spook him or her as you brush. It’s definitely easier to get a younger dog to allow you to have his or her teeth brushed, but it’s not impossible even with an older dog.
4. Do dogs live longer if you brush their teeth?
Dogs live longer when they are in good health. Dogs who have their teeth brushed regularly tend to be healthier dogs simply because they are having an important part of their bodies taken care of on a regular basis. Dogs who have their teeth brush tend to live longer than their counterparts not just because they have fresher breath or whiter teeth, but rather because they tend to have fewer dangerous bacteria growing in their mouths that can be transmitted to the rest of their bodies. If you want your dog to live longer, brushing its teeth should definitely become part of your routine.