Dental for puppies is often overlooked as we gear up for the dreaded teething stage and fight to keep our shoes intact. However, dog dental care should start as early as possible to prevent gingivitis and periodontitis, which can begin in early puppyhood. So what does puppy dental care entail?
Do Puppies Need to Have Their Teeth Cleaned?
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of readying your puppy for teeth cleaning as soon as you get them. 80% of dogs develop some form of periodontitis by the age of two. So starting your puppy’s oral care with several steps, such as safe, natural dog mouthwash water additive in their water can go a long way to keeping away harmful bacteria and plaque before it takes hold.
Early periodontitis and gingivitis often go undiagnosed and untreated. By the time we notice the signs, the damage is usually irreversible. You can read more about the stages of periodontitis in this article.
It can also lead to a host of other health problems, as the toxins and inflammation from an infected mouth can spread to the rest of the body. For this reason, dental health should be a priority from the first day you bring your puppy home.
How Do I Take Care Of My Puppy’s Teeth?
Puppy dental care needs changes depending on your puppy’s age and breed. As far as breed goes, keep in mind that smaller and short-nosed breeds are more prone to dental problems and will need more regular dental cleanings as they age. For more on dental scaling for dogs, see this article.
But other than breed, it’s important to consider at what stage of oral development your puppy is to decide how best to care for them.
Dental For Puppies: How to Care For A Puppy’s Teeth At Each Stage
3 to 8 Weeks
Puppy teeth begin to emerge at roughly three and a half weeks. At this stage, it is not necessary to clean their teeth, but this is a pivotal part of the weaning process. As their baby teeth emerge, their mother wants to nurse them less. So their breeder will need to introduce a special gruel as they learn to lap. It can take several weeks before they are able to safely eat dry food.
During this period, it is helpful for the breeder to gently touch the gums to get young puppies used to the sensation.
8 Weeks to 3 Months
Sometime after 8 weeks, you would typically bring your puppy home. At this stage, they still have their needle-sharp milk teeth, which can make their play-biting a painful affair!
Puppies use their mouths to explore the world and tend to swallow all sorts of undesirables. Suppose you notice your puppy eating something yucky. In that case, you can help sterilize the bad bacteria in the mouth with a bit of mouthwash in their water (but make sure it’s the natural kind!). You can also spritz their mouth with a touch special dog dental spray.
The most important part is that you begin the process of preparing your dog for proper tooth brushing later on. To do this, wait till your puppy is sleepy and relaxed, preferably tuckered out from playtime. Run your hands gently over their paws and ears (to prepare them for nail clipping and ear cleaning later on), and then gently lift their lip. Trace your finger softly over their gums and teeth to get them used to the sensation.
You can even use treats to reward them for opening their mouths and letting you touch their back molars. Practice this daily so that the process is routine and they are not surprised later by the toothbrush.
3 to 6 Months
From about and a half months, a puppy begins to lose their baby teeth, and the teething stage begins. During this time, one can still keep up the process of gently massaging the gums, and sometimes this can help relieve some of the itching and pain.
Just as important is to help your puppy lose their teeth as safely and naturally as possible. This means providing plenty of chew toys for them to gnaw on and help those teeth to fall out. You can also freeze a stuffed Kong so the cold can soothe their gums.
During this time, always be prepared with an appropriate chew toy to redirect your puppy away from chewing on furniture or shoes. Remember, they do not naturally no what they are allowed to chew on, so they are not being naughty if they gnaw on your laptop charger. Be sure to puppy-proof your home and keep them occupied.
At six months, your puppy should finally have stopped teething. Now it is time to employ a proper oral hygiene regimen. You can still provide your dog with dental chews, rawhides, and other appropriate items to gnaw on, as these do a good job of scraping off a lot of plaque. But it is still essential to graduate to use a proper dog toothbrush and toothpaste on a daily basis. Read this for more on how to clean your dog’s mouth properly.
However, using manual abrasions such as brushing and chewies is only part of the means to getting rid of unwanted plaque. You also want to use a dental was or spritz to sterilize the bad bacteria that cause inflammation. PawSafe’s Mouthwash is an easy to keep up your puppy’s oral care as you can add it to their drinking water. The natural ingredients easily kill and wash away the pathogens clinging to your dog’s teeth.
At What Age Should I Start Brushing My Puppy’s Teeth?
It’s crucial to begin brushing your dog’s teeth when they reach 6 months. It only takes about four weeks without dental care for plaque to become a problem and cause gingivitis. After that, most dogs develop periodontitis within 6 months.
If your dog is still unsure about the toothbrush, you can use a gentle finger toothbrush to rub over their teeth. Over time you can gradually desensitize them to toothbrushes and use daily brushing to help prevent dental disease.
New puppies are always an exciting time, but we often focus on the big issues of potty training, teething, and puppy schools. A problem like keeping their teeth clean is easy to forget. However, dog tooth problems start early, so it is vital to prepare our puppies for a lifelong dental care regime as soon as possible.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.