WHAT IS NATIONAL PET DENTAL HEALTH MONTH?

Has your pup’s breath been funky lately? Don’t ignore it! February is National Pet Dental Health Month. It’s our reminder that proper oral health is important in caring for our furry companions. But, besides the odor, regular brushing helps keep your pet’s teeth, gum, and even internal organs healthier. Learn tips for how to brush dogs teeth and how proper care can make them happier members of your family.

Woman showing how to brush dogs teeth.

THE DANGERS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), periodontal disease is the most common medical condition in both dogs and cats. It’s also completely preventable.

Periodonatal disease starts when plaque hardens into tartar. You can pretty easily remove plaque and tartar above the gumline. But when it occurs when these form below the gumline, things can get worse. It’s damaging and can lead to future problems.

Most develop this condition by three years of age, according to Trupanion, a leader in medical insurance for cats and dogs. And did you know? For pet owners of smaller dog breeds, dental claims are typically 40% higher than larger dogs. According to their data, the five dog breeds most likely to file dental claims are the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Pugs, and Yorkshire Terrier.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) explains that not only is oral disease the most common condition for dogs and cats, it’s also very painful. However, most pets don’t show these signs of pain. For these reasons, oral care tends to one of the most overlooked areas of pet care.

What we do know is that brushing dogs’ teeth can increase your companion’s life span and give them a higher quality of life. I think any pet owner would agree that we want to do all we can for our fur babies. Luckily. Learning how to brush dog’s teeth is easier than you think! And as always, consult your local vet for consultation before starting a new care regimen.

Close up of brushing dogs teeth.

HOW TO BRUSH DOGS TEETH

Dr. Caroline Wilde, staff veterinarian at Trupanion, shares some pointers on how to take care of your pet’s pearly whites. All you need are a soft-bristled toothbrush, pet toothpaste, some TLC, and some patience!

“Brushing your dog’s teeth may be no different than brushing your teeth,” says Dr. Wilde. “For example, try small circles along the gum line with a soft-bristled toothbrush, or what your veterinarian recommends. Your veterinarian most likely has “starter kits” with toothbrushes and toothpaste. If not, then I would go to the pet store and buy pet toothpaste and toothbrushes, keeping the size of your dog’s mouth in mind when choosing a toothbrush. They also make little finger toothbrushes which some pet owners prefer.”

BRUSH TRAINING TIPS

  • Start as soon as your veterinarian says it’s okay, generally the sooner the better
  • Brush at the same time every day – getting into a daily routine will make training a lot easier
  • Train your pet to think that tooth brushing is a fun activity that they get to share with their favorite human
  • Use plaque reducing products as recommended by your veterinarian

HOW OFTEN TO BRUSH DOGS TEETH?

It is best to brush your dog’s teeth daily. Be sure to brush at the same time each day. New habits become routine when practiced consistently, and that is no different with our pets. By making the activity fun, and heaping on the praise, it can even become an activity they enjoy (just don’t tell my dog that).

The AMVA recommends that your pet have their teeth checked at least once per year. Consult your local vet for your pet’s individual needs. If you are noticing changes like bad breath or loose teeth, consider an appointment sooner. Brushing alone is not enough for proper health.

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