Canine dental hygiene is the process of cleaning a dog’s teeth to prevent bad breath, plaque buildup, tartar buildup, and other dental issues that can lead to infections, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Plaque & Tartar
Plaque is a yellow film that forms on teeth and grows bacteria, which causes teeth to decay . Tartar is hardened plaque that is virtually impossible to remove with a toothbrush and must oftentimes be removed surgically from a dog’s mouth. Dental surgery on a dog requires anesthesia.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
A toothbrush and toothpaste are used to help remove plaque from a dog’s teeth and prevent tartar buildup. Dog toothbrushes and toothpastes are available at most pet stores. It is not recommended to use human toothpastes for dogs because they include fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs . Dog toothbrushes have soft bristles and are available with two sides. Dog toothpastes come in an assortment of flavors, such as chicken, ginger, and banana.
Various products are available to help clean a dog’s teeth in addition to regular brushing. Dry dog food, chew bones, and chew toys help with a dog’s dental hygiene , but must not be used as substitutes for brushing. There are also water additives, breath strips, and mints available for dogs.
It is recommended that a small amount of toothpaste first be offered to the dog to introduce the taste . Once the dog is familiar with the product, it can then be applied to his teeth. By lifting the dog’s lip, the outside of the teeth can be exposed and easily accessed. The toothbrush should be held at a 45 degree angle towards the gumline and brushing should be done in gentle circular motions . Forcibly brushing a dog’s teeth will make the experience less enjoyable and difficult each time it must be done, which is why gradually easing a dog into the process is more effective.
Veterinarians recommend brushing a dog’s teeth every day starting at a young age . This will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Daily brushing will also help the dog become more familiar and comfortable with the process.
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