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How Often Should You Brush Your Dog's Teeth? Tips From A Veterinary Medical Association - PawSafe

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth? Tips From A Veterinary Medical Association

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how often should you brush your dog's teeth

Many pet owners may be unsure of how often they should be brushing their dog’s teeth. Just like humans, dogs can develop dental problems such as tartar, plaque, and gum disease if their teeth are not properly cared for. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs should have their teeth brushed at least twice a week. However, this is just a general guideline and the frequency may vary depending on your dog’s individual needs. 

Factors such as age, diet, and breed can all play a role in determining how often your dog should have their teeth brushed. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best dental care routine for your pup.

However, some dogs may require more frequent brushing. For example, if your dog is prone to dental problems or has a history of dental issues, you may need to brush their teeth every day. Frequent brushing also helps you spot irregularities like swellings, a weirdly colored tongue, and lumps.

It’s also important to consider your dog’s age. Puppies should start getting their teeth brushed as early as possible to get them used to the process. Older dogs also require more frequent brushing, as they may be more susceptible to dental problems.

On top of brushing, you can provide dogs with dental chews or toys, use mouthwash, and consider dental kibble for oral health.

A dog with pearly whites isn’t just a source of pride as a responsible pet parent. A PMC study found that periodontal disease is the most common issue in dogs above three, with an 80 to 89% occurrence. Bad oral health also increases the risk of organ failure. 

Why Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth is Important

A veterinarian using a finger brush to brush a dog's teeth

As we’ve seen above, brushing a dog’s teeth is not just for aesthetics. It is crucial in promoting overall health. Poor dental hygiene has been shown to lead to more severe health problems, such as heart disease and kidney disease. It’s also gross to deal with the inevitable bad breath.

The most obvious reason for cleaning a dog’s teeth is to prevent tartar and plaque. The buildup of plaque and tartar can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and progress to more severe periodontal disease. In advanced cases, dental infections and abscesses can develop, which can be not only painful but also potentially lead to systemic health issues.

A PMC study found that abnormal kidney function is linked with severity of the dental disease. When bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream, it can cause inflammation in other parts of the body and, eventually, organ failure. 

Additionally, cleaning your dog’s teeth can save you money in the long run. Dental procedures for dogs can be costly, and prevention is always better than treatment. By investing a little time in regular dental care, you can avoid expensive veterinary bills down the road.

Ultimately, by cleaning your dog’s teeth regularly, you can help prevent health problems and extend their lifespan. If your dog’s bad breath persists even with proper dental hygiene, our bad breath home remedies may be of help. 

Understanding Your Dog’s Dental Health

An owner using a finger brush to brush a small dog's teeth

Dogs are full of nasty habits like eating poop, licking groins, and garbage. Some people claim that because wolves and dogs in their natural habitat don’t brush, dogs do not need to either. They also go as far as claiming dogs’ mouths and tongues are cleaner than humans’.

However, this can’t be further from the truth because a dog’s full of carbs and short of chewing predisposes them to dental issues compared to animals in the wild. Here’s how to tell your dog’s dental health is lacking:

Signs of Dental Problems in Dogs 

It’s important to be aware of the signs of dental problems in dogs so that we can take action before the problem becomes too serious. Some of the signs to look out for include:

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Dental problems can be painful for your dog and can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is key when it comes to your dog’s dental health. Here are some preventive measures you can take to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste;
  • Provide your dog with dental chews or toys to help clean their teeth;
  • Feed your dog a healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in nutrients;
  • Give your dog natural treats like carrots and apples(moderate to prevent vitamin A toxicosis and too much sugar);
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups with your vet; and
  • Avoid giving your dog human food or treats that can be harmful to their teeth.

By taking these preventive measures, you can help ensure that your dog’s teeth and gums stay healthy and pain-free.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste

When it comes to brushing your dog’s teeth, choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste is important. Here are some things to consider:

Types of Dog Toothbrushes

There are several types of toothbrushes available for dogs, including:

  • Finger brushes: These brushes fit over your finger and allow you to easily clean your dog’s teeth.
  • Dual-headed brushes: These brushes have two brush heads, one small and one large, to help clean different areas of your dog’s mouth.
  • Long-handled brushes: These brushes have a longer handle, making it easier to reach the back teeth.

Consider your dog’s size and personality when choosing a toothbrush. A small dog may do better with a finger brush, while a larger dog may need a long-handled brush. Additionally, if your dog is nervous or aggressive, a finger brush may be easier to use.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

You should never use human toothpaste on your dog, as it can be harmful to them. Instead, choose a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs. These toothpaste come in various flavors, including chicken, beef, and peanut butter, to make brushing more enjoyable for your dog. When choosing a toothpaste, look for one that contains enzymes to help break down plaque and tartar. 

Remember always to use a small amount of toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth, and never force your dog to brush if they are uncomfortable. With the right tools and a little patience, you can help keep your dog’s teeth healthy and clean.

Brushing Techniques for Dogs

Brushing your dog’s teeth is an essential part of their dental care routine. We have covered how to clean your dog’s mouth, but here are some brushing techniques that can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.

Getting Your Dog Comfortable

Before you start brushing your dog’s teeth, it’s essential to get them comfortable with the process. Here are some tips to help:

  • Start by letting your dog sniff the toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Gently rub your dog’s teeth and gums with your finger to help them get used to the sensation.
  • Gradually introduce the toothbrush, starting with short brushing sessions and gradually increasing the time.
  • Use positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, to encourage your dog to cooperate.

The Right Brushing Technique

Using the right brushing technique can help ensure you’re effectively cleaning your dog’s teeth. Here are some tips:

  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your dog’s teeth.
  • Use gentle circular motions to brush the teeth and gums.
  • Pay extra attention to the back teeth, where plaque and tartar tend to build up.
  • Use a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs, as human toothpaste can be harmful to them.
  • Avoid using too much pressure, as this can cause discomfort and damage to the teeth and gums.

By following these brushing techniques, you can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.

Professional Dental Cleanings for Dogs

Regular brushing is essential for maintaining your dog’s dental health, but it’s not always enough. It’s important to schedule professional dental cleanings for your canine buddy.

During a professional cleaning, a veterinarian or veterinary technician will use specialized tools to remove tartar and plaque buildup from your dog’s teeth. They’ll also check for any signs of gum disease or other dental issues that may require treatment.

Professional dental cleanings for dogs typically require general anesthesia, which can concern some pet owners. However, modern anesthesia protocols are very safe, and your dog will be closely monitored throughout the procedure to ensure their safety.

The frequency of professional dental cleanings will depend on your dog’s individual needs. Arger dogs may only need cleaning once a year, while smaller and short-snouted dogs may require more frequent cleanings. 

Consequences of Not Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

As responsible pet owners, we should take care of our dogs’ teeth. Neglecting dental hygiene can lead to a range of health problems for our furry friends. Here are some of the consequences of not brushing your dog’s teeth regularly:

Bad Breath

One of the most obvious signs of poor dental hygiene in dogs is bad breath. If you notice that your dog’s breath smells foul, it could be a sign of dental disease. Bacteria in the mouth can build up and cause an unpleasant odor.

Tooth Decay

Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss. This can make it difficult for your dog to eat and can also affect their overall health.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a common problem in dogs that can be caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. This can lead to inflammation, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss. In severe cases, gum disease can also affect other organs in the body, such as the heart and kidneys.

Expensive Vet Bills

Neglecting your dog’s dental hygiene can lead to expensive vet bills down the line. Treating dental problems can be costly, and sometimes, it may require surgery to fix the issue. Regular brushing can help prevent these problems and save you money in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth every day. However, if you can’t do it daily, aim for at least three times a week. The more often you brush, the better your dog’s dental health will be.

Is it too late to start brushing my dog’s teeth?

It’s never too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Even if your dog is older, regular dental care can still make a big difference in their overall health.

Can I use human toothpaste to brush my dog’s teeth?

No, you should never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be harmful to dogs if swallowed. Instead, use a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs.

How to brush my dog’s teeth?

To brush your dog’s teeth, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed for dogs. Gently lift your dog’s lip and brush their teeth in a circular motion, focusing on the gum line. Be sure to praise your dog and offer treats as a reward.

Do greenies replace brushing my dog’s teeth?

No, greenies do not replace brushing your dog’s teeth. While greenies can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, they should be used in conjunction with regular brushing and dental checkups.

How often do people actually brush their dog’s teeth?

Unfortunately, many people do not brush their dog’s teeth as often as they should. A survey found that only about 2% of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth daily, while a whopping 1 in 5 never brush their dog’s teeth at all. It’s important to make dental care a priority for your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your dog’s dental hygiene is an important part of their overall health. We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of brushing your dog’s teeth and how often you should do it. Remember always to use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs and to start the brushing routine slowly and gradually to avoid any discomfort for your furry friend.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

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.

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.