Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth
Providing good oral care for our canine family members can actually extend their lives by as much as three to five years. In order to successfully clean your dog’s teeth, you must get your dog used to having its mouth handled by lifting its lips and examining the teeth. Do this 2-3 times per week, and each time, give your pet a small treat and lots of praise after you have finished. Your dog will be more comfortable with the teeth cleaning process when it knows there will be a treat when it's over.
You'll need a dog toothbrush (a washcloth or gauze pad wrapped around your finger also works well), and toothpaste specially formulated for animal use. Dogs cannot spit, and human toothpaste is not safe to swallow in large quantities. Your dog will most likely swallow whatever you use to clean its teeth with, so it is important to buy toothpaste that has been formulated specifically for dogs. A good alternative for cleaning your dog’s teeth is a solution of vitamin C and water in a ratio of half teaspoon of vitamin C to a cup of water.
Position yourself on the floor, with your dog in front of you. With smaller breeds or puppies, you can hold the dog in your lap. It may be necessary to start with gauze and work up to the toothbrush. Lift your dog's upper lip and clean your dog’s teeth in a circular motion, making sure to brush at the base of each tooth where it meets the gum line. The toothbrush bristles should be angled at 45-degrees to the tooth surface. Also, make sure to clean your dog’s back molar teeth, which are more likely than the front teeth to develop problems. Gently force the bristles into the area around the base of the tooth and the spaces between the teeth with about ten short back and forth strokes, focusing on the outside of the upper teeth.
Do only one or two teeth the first few times. As your dog becomes comfortable with teeth cleaning, brush more teeth in each session. Clean your dog’s teeth twice a week. Always give your dog a small treat after each session.
Hard bones are the primary cause of your dog’s teeth breaking; knuckle bones are soft.
Giving bones to your pet to chew on is an effective method for keeping tarter from accumulating and aids in keeping your dog’s teeth clean. Raw knuckle bones (the joints), from your local butcher or meat counter at the supermarket, are great because they are soft and allow your dog to scrape its teeth into the bone, nicely cleaning food and tartar from teeth. These bones still have some tendons and muscle meat. They will clean your dog’s teeth and provide a nice oral workout as well as a healthy amount of natural calcium. Your dog will enjoy a good knuckle bone. It will be content and relaxed while chewing, and a little sleepy afterwards. Keep your dog on a towel that is easily washed.
Supervise your dog to prevent it from swallowing a large piece of bone, which may cause choking or digestive problems. Give your dog bones that are too large to swallow and NOT cooked. Do NOT give unthawed frozen bones to avoid the possible breaking of teeth. Raw carrots are a good substitute for cleaning your dog’s teeth.
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