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The Importance of Canine Dental Hygiene

Many dog owners believe that their dog’s “doggie breath” is normal, but this isn’t so.
Dogs, just like us, need proper hygiene or they develop dental diseases, the most
common of which is periodontal disease as well as bad breath. Crunchy treats and dry
food help in reducing the risk of dental disease in dogs, and some chew toys will also
assist in this, but you will also have to develop a cleaning program for your dog’s teeth
and gums to ensure he doesn’t develop gingivitis or tooth decay. Tooth and gum
infections can also result in systemic infections in your dog, another reason why you
should devote some daily time to cleaning your dog’s teeth.

You’ll need a toothbrush with soft bristles, there are special toothbrushes made for dogs
or you can use a soft bristled human toothbrush. You’ll also need toothpaste, but never
attempt to use human toothpaste or baking soda as some people may recommend as
these can make your dog very sick. There are special enzymatic toothpastes formulated
for dogs that are not only healthy for your dog but come in flavors your dog will find
palatable.

If your dog has never had his teeth brushed before, it is best to allow the dog to become
familiar with the toothbrush and toothpaste before attempting to brush his teeth for the
first time. Allow him to sniff and taste the toothpaste and inspect the toothbrush so that
he isn’t afraid of it. Put some toothpaste on your finger and gently rub his gums with it so
he becomes familiar with the taste. Once your dog is comfortable with this, it’s time to
gently introduce the toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste.

Gently run the brush along the dog’s gums and work in small gentle circles. If the dog
accepts this praise him profusely. Never work for more than 30 seconds on your dog in
the first few tries. If the dog becomes anxious, stop and allow him to relax and try again
gently. With some time and patience your dog should begin to accept having his teeth
brushed. View this as a gradual process and allow your dog to become comfortable with
having his teeth brushed, never rush your dog with new experiences, and allow him to
work at his own pace.

Associate teeth brushing with a positive experience, give your dog a treat and a lot of
praise after brushing his teeth or take him for a walk.

Once your dog is used to having his teeth brushed, make sure you do it regularly. Plaque
mineralizes in less than 36 hours and turns into tartar which can’t be removed with a
tooth brush. If your dog develops tartar he will need to go to the vet to have it removed
as it can cause serious dental and health problems. This is why it is essential to brush
your dog’s teeth daily, to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Even with daily dental care your dog may require a professional cleaning so be sure to
regularly visit your veterinary to have your dog’s teeth checked.

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