Vet Blog

How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

February 28, 2019

Did you brush your teeth when you got up this morning?

Did you clean them last night before you went to bed? For most of us, brushing our teeth is a habit that is instilled in us from a fairly early age. We know that brushing our teeth twice a day is one of the best ways to keep them looking good, feeling fresh, and most importantly - remaining healthy so that we can use them without pain or other unpleasant symptoms. Your dog is as dependent on his teeth as you are on yours, so it makes perfect sense that we extend this same valuable dental health practice to our canines too.

Why Is Brushing My Dog's Teeth so Important?

Dental brushing for dogs isn't a new concept, but many owners still aren't aware of just how valuable it can be. Even dog owners with plenty of experience still don't realize that by brushing their canine's teeth, they could help him enjoy a healthier, more active, and potentially longer life too. This is because when you fail to take care of your dog's teeth you are not only risking them becoming decayed, damaged, and falling out, you are also playing with fire when it comes to your pet's general health. Studies have shown that animals that have poor dental hygiene are more likely to become affected by medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney/liver disorder or failure, or even a stroke. This is because the bacteria present on the teeth (due to them not being brushed) has been able to multiply unchecked. When this happens, they can penetrate the soft tissue of the gums, causing pain, inflammation, and bleeding. The infection-causing bacteria can erode gum tissue, damage your dog's jaw bone and even enter the blood. The circulatory system acts as a highway for the bacteria, passing them around the body. Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream it can infect her major organs and her body systems, causing irreversible damage that can lead to the medical conditions listed above.

How Often Should I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

We are taught that when it comes to brushing our own teeth, twice a day is optimal. However, this is pretty impractical for cleaning those of our dogs. Pet dentists state that daily brushing is optimal as this means that bacteria and debris can be removed before they have a chance to cause damage to your pet's teeth. Many owners find that they can work daily brushing into their pet's routine. However, if this simply isn't possible for you, so long as you are cleaning his teeth at least once a week you will be benefitting his dental health.

In addition to brushing at home, you should also make an appointment for your dog to have a professional clean carried out by your experienced and knowledgeable pet dentist at least once every year. This is a comprehensive clean that is carried out while your pet is asleep thanks to the use of a general anesthetic. This enables your pet dentist to undertake a much more intensive and thoroughly clean, removing all traces of plaque and calculus from his teeth to minimize the risk of or help manage dental disease. The teeth can also be covered in sealant, which will act as another barrier of protection against the development of plaque. Since your pet is asleep, the process is much safer as they won't make any sudden movements that could see them injured or cause your pet dentist to make a mistake.

What Equipment Do I Need to Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Brushing your dog's teeth at home is a fairly simple act and you only need a few basic pieces of equipment to get started- a toothbrush and toothpaste. It is possible to buy toothbrushes that are designed specifically with dogs in mind. However, you don't necessarily need these as a small, round-headed human brush with soft bristles will work just as well. The most important thing to consider is which toothpaste you are using for brushing your dog's teeth. Human varieties contain ingredients that are toxic to animals and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, opt for canine toothpaste. There are plenty of different flavors available including chicken, beef, and even lamb. It may take a few attempts for you to find one that your dog will like so squeeze a little onto your finger and let him lick it before you get started. If he licks your finger clean, he likes the flavor and you are good to start brushing. If he turns his nose up at it several times, you may need to consider swapping to an alternative.

Understandably, many owners think that brushing their dog's teeth will be a difficult if not impossible task. However, with time and practice, it is possible to make the process fairly easy and not at all time-consuming. Your pet dentist in Nashville, TN will be happy to demonstrate different brushing techniques for you.

If you would like more advice on brushing your dog's teeth, including information about the importance of this aspect of his care, please call our pet dentistry team in Nashville, TN at (615) 356-6534, and our vets in Nashville, TN would be happy to answer any questions about pet dental care.