Just like people, dogs can suffer from dental disease. Dogs need regular dental care to help prevent problems from arising. Dogs should be given appropriate teeth cleaning dog chews and toys, and have their teeth brushed regularly. Brushing a dog's teeth is not as difficult as it sounds, especially if teeth brushing starts when the dog is a puppy. Older dogs can also be taught to accept teeth brushing, they may just take a bit longer to accept it. Before brushing an older dog's teeth for the first time, owners should have the dog's teeth checked by a veterinarian to ensure none are damaged or broken.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste specially made for dogs can be bought at most pet stores and department stores. The toothbrush should have soft bristles. Toothpaste specially made for canines comes in many delicious dog approved flavours like peanut butter, liver, cheese or bacon. Toothpaste made for humans should never be used as it is not safe for dogs. Dogs should have their teeth brushed daily or at least every other day; it takes 36 hours for plaque to turn into tartar which is much harder to remove.
When starting teeth brushing with a dog, owners should start slow and keep the procedure relaxed and upbeat. For the first few times, the toothbrush should not be used, owners should simply focus on getting the dog use to having his cheeks touched; to do this rub the dog's cheek gently with your finger. Once, the dog is comfortable with having his cheeks touched, let the dog have a small taste of the toothpaste. Next, put a small amount of the toothpaste on the brush, and gently lift up the dog's lip and brush one or two of his teeth; brush slowly and gently in a circular motion. Each day, the number of teeth being brushed should be increased. Owners should pay special attention to the back teeth and the gum line where plaque accumulates the most. Owners should always try to end the brushing session before the dog starts to fuss. If owners wait to stop until the dog is uncomfortable and fussing, the dog will learn that all he has to do is fuss and the brushing will stop, this will make the job much more difficult and unpleasant for both the dog and the owner. It should take about a half a minute per side to completely brush a dog's teeth. Once each teeth brushing session is done the dog should be praised outrageously and given a special treat or some play.
Even with regular teeth brushing, some dogs still may need to see a veterinarian for a thorough teeth cleaning occasionally. Clean healthy teeth are an important part of a dog's well being, and well worth an owner's effort and time.