Last updated on February 20, 2014
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and Fidose of Reality aims to give you the reality – the truth – and what you need to know. We will spare you the “do it or else” mantras and the “if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, health problems are highly likely…or worse.” Both of those are true, but let us break it down for you slide by slide, fact by fact, and the hands-on what to do if you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before. Oh, and you wouldn’t be alone. Dog dental health is a hot topic.
According to a 2013 analysis conducted by VPI Pet Insurance, the average cost to prevent dental disease in pets is $171.82, but it costs $531.71 to treat dental disease. “We brush our teeth each day, and daily oral hygiene is recommended for dogs and cats from the time the permanent teeth erupt,” explains Dr. Jan Bellows, president of the American Veterinary Dental College. “
If you only take one thing away from this article and you only remember one thing in general from this it is:
BRUSH YOUR DOG’S TEETH AS OFTEN AS YOU BRUSH YOUR OWN: AT A MINIMUM, ONCE A DAY.
If you think that eating pretzels scrapes tartar off your teeth, then by all means believe that eating hard dog food does the same for a dog.
Hard Core Facts
I am a once to twice a day brusher of my dog’s teeth and have done so for over 18 years. Not once did my last Cocker Spaniel need a professional under-anesthesia dental cleaning in her entire 15 years of life. The folks at the vet used to be amazed at how tartar-free her teeth remained, and I attribute it to teeth brushing, being diligent, and taking literally 5 minutes or less per day to save her life. I feel as if I was gifted with extra years and healthy organs because of my efforts.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. If pet parents don’t attend to the dog’s teeth, oral disease can hit the kidneys, liver and heart, and seriously affect a dog’s quality of life. None of us want that.
It is super easy, even for dogs who never had their teeth brushed.
How to Do It
Start slow. Simply dip a bit of chicken soup broth (sodium free) on your finger and let the dog lick. At least then the whole finger near the mouth thing has been addressed. Do this for a day or two. Advance to finger toothbrush. Put water on it only and follow this paw-some video for how to do it: just for a few seconds, building up each day. Reward your dog as you go along and like he just won Westminster when he is done. Praise rocks, as pet parents know. It takes a bit of practice. After the sodium free chicken broth, I worked up to teeth cleaning pads. Then I let Dexter lick the toothpaste for a week. Then the front teeth only. Then added toothpaste to a finger brush. Graduated to a baby toothbrush. It takes time but as you can see, he is a pro now.
My rule of thumb and paw: Brush my dog’s teeth as I would my own; so two times a day works famously. If you can only do it once, you just hit tartar where it counts.
Be sure the toothpaste is made for dogs. I use CET vanilla mint dog toothpaste, available at Pet360.com. Dogs cannot spit and the enzymes that make human toothpaste foam are bad for them. Smile and woof it up with Fido!
Here is a handy chart you can grab and share, blog about, etc.