Just like you, your canine companion can get cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to more health problems down the road.
In fact, most dogs show signs of periodontal disease by 3 years old.
Beyond bad doggy breath and yellow teeth, a tooth or gum infection can lead to serious conditions for your furry friend down the line, like heart, liver, and kidney disease.
Preventive dental care can help ensure your dog’s overall health as they get older and save you money on professional cleanings or oral surgery to fix neglected tooth problems.
And just like for you, the number one way to prevent gum disease is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
Cleaning your dog’s teeth at home could be the key to a long and healthy life for your furry friend. From choosing the right toothbrush to the cost of a professional cleaning, here’s how to clean your dog’s teeth.
How to brush your dog’s teeth
Although the easiest way to get your dog comfortable with tooth-brushing is by introducing the routine when they’re a puppy, turning back the clock on your full-grown dog may not be an option.
Whether your dog is just a puppy or is well into adulthood, getting your dog used to a tooth-brushing routine isn’t always easy.
Here are a few tips that can make brushing your dog’s teeth go a little smoother:
- Try to brush your dog’s teeth after they’ve had a good amount of exercise, so they’ll be more willing to sit still.
- Aim to brush just a few of your dog’s teeth the first few times.
- Work your way up to brushing your dog’s whole mouth as they become more comfortable with the routine.
- Talk to your dog soothingly while you brush their teeth to help them relax.
- Start slowly and call it a day if your dog gets agitated.
- Reward your dog afterward with a treat — preferably one that’s good for their teeth.
Use a doggy toothbrush
Rather than using the guest toothbrush that may be laying around your house, invest in a doggy toothbrush that’s designed to reach the different angles of your pet’s teeth.
Pet toothbrushes are typically softer than your own, so they won’t irritate or damage your furry friend’s sensitive gums.
A double-headed dog or cat toothbrush often sport a long 9-inch handle that will reach all the angles of your dog’s teeth.
The double-heads are two different sizes, which helps you brush away tarter no matter the size of your dog’s mouth.
Pro-tip: If you own more than one dog, use a different brush for each pet. Using the same brush could result in spreading germs or infection if one of your dogs is sick.
What about toothpaste for my dog?
Never use the same toothpaste you use for yourself to brush your dog’s teeth — we are taught at a young age to spit out toothpaste, so we don’t swallow non-edible ingredients, like fluoride.
But since your dog doesn’t know how to spit out toothpaste, they’ll end up swallowing ingredients which can be toxic for them.
Luckily, there is doggy toothpaste that is safe and effective to use during your pet’s tooth brushing routine.
They even come in flavors that are tasty to your dog — like poultry or peanut flavor — which could help make brushing your dog’s teeth that much easier.
Chew toys that are good for your dog’s teeth
Although brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep their mouths healthy, there are certain chew toys that are designed to help improve canine oral health too.
Make sure you choose chew toys that aren’t too hard, like ice cubes or animal chews (bones, hooves or antlers), which can chip your dog’s teeth.
Flexible, rubber-based chews, pressed pork-hide or doggy dental treats are a better choice for your dog’s dental health.
When to see the vet
Whether you brush your dog’s teeth or not, you should have a look inside your pet/s mouth every week or so to notice any changes which may need to be checked out by your vet.
If you notice any of these potential signs of dental problems, schedule a visit with your dog’s vet:
- Discolored, broken or missing teeth
- Red, tender or bleeding gums
- Yellowish-brown tartar line along your dog’s gum line
- Bad breath
- Change in eating or chewing habits
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Crooked or missing teeth
- Bumps or growths in your dog’s mouth
How often should you get your dog’s teeth cleaned?
Just like you, your dog should have their teeth checked by their vet every 6 to 12 months. Your dog’s regular exams should include a dental checkup, so be sure to ask for one if your visit doesn’t include a dental exam.
If your dog simply can’t stand for you to brush their teeth, you can have them professionally cleaned by your vet.
How much does it cost to get my dog’s teeth cleaned?
The cost of professional teeth cleaning for your dog can depend on how much care your dog needs, and if your vet advises using an X-ray before the cleaning.
Dental X-rays are important for monitoring the health of your dog’s teeth below their gum line and detecting periodontal disease. But X-rays require anesthesia, which can be expensive.
Depending on where you live, the price of a tooth cleaning for your dog could range anywhere from $500-$3000. The cost of a cleaning could be even higher if your dog’s teeth need even more care, like oral surgery or fillings for cavities.
A cleaning could potentially only cost you a few hundred dollars, but you might end up paying closer a few thousand if your dog needs multiple fillings or multiple tooth extractions.
Pet insurance can help you reduce the cost of visits to the vet and other dental care costs for your dog.