If smelly dog breath isn’t reason enough to brush your dog’s teeth, consider the whopping cost of dog dental care. Scaling to remove plaque will be more than five hundred dollars. Don’t scale and the dog will develop periodontal disease – inflammation of the tissue supporting the teeth, which left unchecked, will lead to receding gums, tooth loss and life shortening heart, kidney or liver infections if the infection travels in the bloodstream to those organs.
Periodontal disease is the most easily prevented heath problem for dogs. A good gun dog’s life is always too short and a few more years of health are worth the effort to brush your dog’s teeth.
Don’t use human toothpaste on your dog because it may cause nausea and the runs. Use an enzymatic toothpaste for dogs from the pet store. The enzyme, glucose oxidase, is anti-bacterial and continues working in the dog’s mouth after brushing to slow down the formation of plaque. Dog tooth paste is flavoured so dogs like it, making the task easier. Avoid any toothpaste with the sweetener xylitol because it can cause liver damage in dogs.
Use a soft, human or dog toothbrush or a finger brush for smaller dogs (fits on finger like a thimble).
Get the dog up on a bench so you don’t have to bend over and start by letting the dog taste and eat some of the toothpaste off your finger tip, then off the toothbrush. Pull up the dog’s upper lip to get the tooth brush in and brush the back teeth as much as the dog tolerates. Hold the dog’s head gently or have someone hold its collar when you are getting started. If the dog continually wants to bite the tooth brush, hold its mouth shut by gently clamping your free hand over its muzzle. Brush gently back and forth along the teeth near the gum line and allow the dog to swallow when it wants to.
You may not be able to brush all 42 teeth, but be sure to get the problem areas for plaque, which are the upper and lower cheek teeth and the canines. Do not stop brushing when the dog pulls away or you will be training it to pull way. Stop when the dog is cooperating by allowing you to brush continuously for eight or ten seconds. This way it learns that if it cooperates you will soon stop.
This is best started in late puppyhood but is still worth starting on an adult dog. Many dogs like the attention and will learn to cooperate for a treat they really like when finished. Always rinse the toothbrush and wash your hands thoroughly after touching your dog’s mouth.
Of course daily brushing is best but do it as often as possible. My Brittany spaniel likes having her hair and teeth brushed and jumps up on the bench herself to remind me she would like a little attention.