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Doggy Dental Care: Tips & Tricks

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Doggy dental careYou love your pet and you care about their health.  You feed them the best dog food, you make sure they get enough exercise and you take them in regularly for vaccinations and checkups.  But have you considered their teeth?

One of the most important, yet often overlooked, factors of your dog’s overall health is oral hygiene. Unlike people, your pet won’t notify you of an abscessed tooth or bleeding gums. And that bacteria, if left untreated, can get into their bloodstream, affecting their liver, kidneys or even their heart. On average, over 85% of dogs over the age of 4 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease.  Not only is this dangerous for your pet, but it’s painful as well.  On the plus side, all of these issues are preventable and treatable if caught in time. One of the best ways to aide in your pet’s dental health is daily brushing.  Now, we understand that this may not be a realistic venture for all pet owners.  However, brushing even 3 times per week will significantly decrease your pet’s chances of contracting periodontal disease. 

To do this, you’ll need a doggie toothbrush and canine toothpaste.  Both of which can be picked up at your local Central Pet store.  Ensure that the toothbrush is the right size for your pup’s mouth or opt for a fingertip brush that slides onto the tip of your finger.  Toothpastes can be purchased in a variety of flavors that will appeal to your four-legged friend.  Don’t use human formulas as they contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pet if ingested.

Not every dog will be thrilled at the idea of having their teeth brushed.  So, you may need to work up to it.  Begin by getting your dog used to you handling their mouth.  Place a small amount of peanut butter or nonfat yogurt on your fingertip and rub it along their gum line.  Move around their mouth as much as possible in short increments.  Repeating this over the course of a few days, prior to brushing, will help your pet adjust to the idea of having you in their mouth, as well as provide them a tasty little treat as reward for being so cooperative.

Once this no longer phases your pup, move on to the toothbrush.  Allow them to see, sniff and lick the brush if they choose.  Place the flavored toothpaste on the brush and gently lift your dog’s lips in order to begin brushing.  At first, you may only get a few teeth done.  That’s OK!  Praise them, apply a little more toothpaste, and continue to work your way around their mouth.  Don’t forget to brush along the gum line as this is where most of the plaque will build up. The goal is to ensure your pet is cooperative and thinks of the brushing as a positive experience.  Lots of praise and patience!

It may take a few days before your pup will let you get those back teeth.  Some pups are more reluctant than others to have their mouths open that wide with a brush in there.  The slow process of allowing your dog to gradually work up to this level of trust is a crucial part of ensuring that you and your pet are on the same page.

Remember, after each brushing you should reward your pet with play time, a special treat, or some old school affection.  Even if the process did not go as well as you’d hoped.  Having a happy ending to each brushing is a great way to help your pet be more accommodating in the future.

If your pet is having no part of it, or if your lifestyle just simply doesn’t allow for you to invest the time, opt for a water additive. Tropiclean makes a dental water additive that we’ve seen amazing results from!  Simply pour a small amount into the dish every time you refill their water.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Good oral hygiene and dental care are extremely important parts of having a healthy and happy pet.  With a little patience and dedication, and a lot of positive reinforcement for your pup, it can easily become a part of your daily routine.  For assistance in selecting the right dental care products, stop by one of our Central Pet locations and trained associate will be happy to help you find the perfect product for your pup!