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Brushing Fido’s Teeth

May 15, 2024

Proper dental care is crucial for maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being. Sadly, it often goes unnoticed. Brushing your furry friend’s teeth won’t take up much of your time or money, but can significantly affect Fido’s dental health. Here, a Louisville, KY veterinarian provides helpful tips on how to properly brush your pet’s teeth.

Is It Important To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing can be just as beneficial to dogs as it is to people. Regular brushing is essential for maintaining oral hygiene and preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar. That is of the utmost importance!

Gum disease is a common issue that affects a significant number of our canine friends. Other common doggy dental issues include misalignments, abscesses, infections, and cracked or fractured teeth. Tartar buildup and gum disease are closely linked. As tartar accumulates, it starts to exert pressure beneath the gums. Over time, these tiny pockets are formed, providing ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive. Over time, the infection can result in the loss of gum tissue and bone.

There is a strong correlation between gum disease and various serious medical conditions, such as heart disease. It is important to be cautious as the infection can potentially spread from your furry friend’s mouth to their vital organs.

How Can I Tell If Fido Is Having Dental Issues?

Fido has a remarkable ability to communicate his needs when he wants to go for a walk or hopes for a bite of your dinner. Unfortunately, however, he lacks the means to let you know if his teeth are causing him any discomfort. It’s important to stay vigilant for any indications that something may be wrong.

These are some of the most frequently seen ones:

  1. Bad Breath: Fido may not have minty-fresh breath, but severe halitosis could indicate an issue with your beloved pet’s dental hygiene, as well as potential underlying health concerns. For additional details, consult your veterinarian.
  2. Swelling: The presence of swelling in the mouth, face, and head is always cause for concern. This usually suggests an infection, which can be very risky when it’s near the brain.
  3. Decreased Enthusiasm for Play: Fido plays using his mouth, so it’s no surprise that dental problems can damper his enjoyment of his favorite activities like playing Tug O War or chasing Frisbees.
  4. Variations in Eating Habits: Having to deal with the pain of a throbbing tooth is no fun, and can make eating very painful. Your furry friend might take a bit longer to finish their meal. Fido may occasionally let some food escape from the corners of his mouth. Dogs who have oral issues sometimes have a strong preference for softer foods and treats. In the most severe situations, they may struggle to consume any food whatsoever. This can lead to significant health issues.
  5. Irritability: Anyone who has ever had a toothache understands that dental issues can really put a damper on one’s mood. That also extends to pets! Fido might appear particularly sad or grouchy. He may also choose to withdraw, preferring to spend more time alone rather than with his humans.
  6. Drooling: It’s a well-known fact that some puppies have a tendency to be quite slobbery. However, if your canine pal has only recently started leaving puddles on the floor, it could be a sign of a dental issue. Another potential sign to watch out for is the presence of thick or bloody drool.
  7. Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are a frequent indication of oral problems, like gum disease. You may not see any blood on your dog’s gums, but you might notice stains around his lips, especially if he has light-colored fur. Fido’s toys, plates, and chews may also get red stains.
  8. Buildup of Tartar: Does your puppy have any discoloration on their teeth? This is often linked to gum disease.

Reach out to your Louisville, KY vet right away if you spot any of these warning signs. 

How Can I Make My Pet More Comfortable With Tooth Brushing?

As mentioned before, it is easier to start training your dog when they are still a puppy. It’s ideal to train your puppy to view this as a regular part of a dog’s routine. It is possible to teach an adult to embrace a toothbrush, but it may take more more time.

The keys are to start slow and use positive reinforcement. Begin by gently massaging your furry friend’s teeth and gums, using your fingertip. While petting him, help him make a positive association by giving him attention and treats. Continue practicing until your furry best friend becomes accustomed to this. Now, try applying a small amount of dog toothpaste. Once more, provide treats and praise.

Continue doing this consistently until your dog becomes accustomed to it. Eventually, you can utilize Fido’s toothbrush. Ask your Louisville, KY vet for more information. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Refuses To Have His Teeth Brushed?

In the end, this cannot be forced. It’s important to avoid getting bitten or causing Fido to become fearful of having his mouth touched! If your puppy isn’t interested, there are alternative methods to keep his teeth clean, such as dental rinses, dental flakes, dental chews, and dental formula food and treats. Ask your veterinarian for further details.

How Many Dog Owners Brush Their Pet’s Teeth?

We don’t have an exact number, but it’s definitely not as many as we would like. Based on a poll conducted by Ipsos, it was found that a mere 8% of dog owners take the initiative to clean their pets’ teeth.

Fido outperformed Fluffy in this area, as only a small fraction of cat owners, approximately 4%, groom their cat’s claws. (Let’s be honest, attempting to brush a kitty’s teeth can be quite risky.)

Is It Safe To Use Toothpaste Made For Humans On Fido?

No, never. Many ingredients found in our toothpastes can be harmful to dogs. Birch sugar, also known as xylitol, is one example. Plus, many dog toothpastes are available in flavors that dogs enjoy, such as chicken or beef. Your adorable pet will find using toothpaste that tastes like steak much more enjoyable!

Likewise, it’s best to avoid using a toothbrush designed for humans on your furry friend. They’re not the right size or shape for Fido’s mouth.

What Is The Ideal Frequency For Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth?

In a perfect world, we would recommend that you brush Fido’s teeth at least twice a day. However, once a day or even every other day is more than sufficient. Even once a week is better than nothing!

Keep in mind that there’s no need to clean Fido’s entire mouth all at once. Just finish one quadrant at a time and continue rotating. This may be easier anyway, as it will be quite fast. Once you and your furry companion have mastered the routine, it should only take a minute or two.

Book an Appointment at Our Louisville, KY  Pet Hospital

Do you have any questions about your dog’s health or care? Are you aware or have any concerns about your furry friend’s dental health? Feel free to reach out to us, your Louisville, KY hospital, whenever you need!