Similar to the way we humans view dental care, you may notice that your dogs are not a huge fan of getting their teeth brushed or undergoing any form of dental maintenance. Can you blame them?
Think about going to get your teeth cleaned and the traumatic associations the annual visits to the dentist can revive in many of us.
The trick to overcoming such fears is to start early, it will likely be much easier for your puppy to accept the new routine than it will for your elderly hound. Another successful method for handling your pet’s mouth is to begin gradually, primarily brushing the more accessible front teeth, or even by allowing a voluntary sniff or introductory lick to the doggie toothpaste.
Dread and fear are not the only commonality between us and our pets when it comes to the topic of dental care. You know what happens when you neglect brushing your teeth and start experiencing progressively worse, painful issues with every visit to the dentist? Well, dental hygiene is just as crucial for our canine counterparts as it is for us.
In order to avoid some of the common issues which negligence of your pooch’s dental hygiene may cause, we have created the “Pearly Whites One-Week Pupper Challenge” to expose you to different methods of dental care and to create the perfect opportunity for you and your pet to develop a healthy new routine together! We encourage you to introduce these activities as a bonding experience to your puppy early on, and they will grow to tolerate and possibly even cherish your newfound activity together – one they can partake in with their favorite human they give their unconditional trust to. Their hero who always has their best interest at heart. YOU.
Day #1 – Water Additive Adventure
Start off with a simple, harmless change that will have a positive impact on your dog’s dental hygiene and overall well-being. In order to prevent tartar from forming, try using a water additive in your pet’s drinking water. This method is a great preventative measure you can take, so try to introduce it while your pup is still young before they get set in their ways. There are a wide variety of additives available, so if possible try to look for one that has a seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
Day #2 – Chew Central
Although there is somewhat of a debate regarding whether or not bones are safe for dogs to chew on, safe chewing can be beneficial for dental hygiene. In order to avoid damaged teeth or worse issues that can occur as a result of chewing bones, but still reaping the benefits of healthy premolars and teeth in general, we highly recommend opting for dental chews that have the VOHC approval seal instead of bones, such as chews from Virbac. Try to find something your pup can fully sink their teeth into, reaching the gum line. Note that raw chicken bones should be avoided at all costs and are dangerous because you run the risk of your dog choking on them or causing damage when going down the digestive tract.
Day #3 – Fortifying Food-Plan
Time to make a trip to visit your neighborhood vet! Go ahead and ask your trusted veterinarian if they can recommend a dental-friendly dog diet which can prevent the formation of tartar. Some foods come in larger pieces, which is already a big help in “brushing” your pet’s teeth as they eat. Some grub is even made with special ingredients that can fight off or prevent plaque buildup and gum irritation. It is typically more effective to stick with one particular food diet rather than mixing and matching, but it can have different advantages for mixing these into your dog’s usual food as well. In order to avoid false advertising, it is best to try out those mentioned on the VOHC list so you know they are legitimate and vouched for. Otherwise, you can check with your vet if they have a prescription diet to recommend for your pup.
Day # 4 – Woof Wipes & Pupper Pads
Before taking on the challenge of full-on brushing your dog’s teeth, another option to try is using wipes or pads to wipe the teeth and gum line. This will get rid of some bacteria and leftover food, and is widely available at most pet stores. You can even try to use a standard gauze pad to dab around their teeth and gums. This is good practice for gaining the trust and patience of your pup when practicing holding their mouth open and reaching in there with the gauze wrapped around your finger.
Day #5 – Puppy Toothpaste
This is your chance to truly get comfortable with your pal and learn to handle their muzzle. Choose a non-human toothpaste only which is safe for your dog to swallow, and seize the chance to catch their attention with dog-friendly toothpaste flavors such as seafood or meat. Gently stroke the inside of their mouth along the outer teeth and gums for a few seconds and gradually increase this process over time, not all in one day. Make sure to reward your pup so they associate this experience with a positive outcome, regardless of whether or not it was successful.
Day #6 – Doggie Toothbrush
If you choose a human toothbrush that is particularly soft and approximately matches the size of your pet’s mouth, that could function as a toothbrush for your pup. A benefit of getting a toothbrush designed for canines is that it will likely be more angular and can come with the option to fit over the end of your fingertip [similar to a finger-puppet]. Give either one a test run and choose what is comfortable for both you and your little patient.
Day #7 – Trip to the Vet
While all the previous routines are extremely beneficial for the dental hygiene of your dog, it is strongly suggested that you schedule your pet for regular dental cleaning appointments with their vet the way you would for you or your human loved ones. This is a necessary part of dental hygiene for your pooch, and the prevention or treatment of Periodontal Disease, which are often caused by the accumulation of plaque or tartar.
Also similar to dental cleaning appointments you may have experienced, these check-ups include the removal of plaque and tartar using professional equipment, a rinse and an inspection. This is particularly crucial because your pet cannot communicate to you where or when they are experiencing pain. After the results are in and the canine teeth are clean, you may also receive specific recommendations for at-home care or instructions to book a follow-up examination.