Good dental care for pets not only keeps them from having bad breath and toothaches, but studies also show that it can prevent more serious illnesses. Over time, bacteria lead to plaque and tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth. The result is bad breath, reddened gums, and other common signs of dental disease. Infections that can enter through the gums and mouth may lead to heart disease and kidney disease. Oxford Veterinary Hospital’s veterinarians and staff can help you set up a dental care plan that will prevent decay and promote your pet’s continued health.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs have some degree of dental disease by 3 years of age. Your pup doesn’t have to be a statistic. Below are some tips on brushing your dog’s teeth! It won’t be easy at first, but over time it will get easier and easier.

1. Choose the right toothbrush—There are dog toothbrushes that closely resemble human toothbrushes, but they are smaller and have softer bristles. Some dogs better tolerate a finger toothbrush, which fits over your finger and gives you the ability to access some of those hard-to-reach teeth.

2. Use a dog-friendly toothpaste—Fluoride is toxic to dogs, so never use a human toothpaste on your pup. There are many pet-friendly options (and they often come in flavors your dog will love, like beef or poultry). If you’d rather make your own, mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 teaspoon water.

3. Wear him out—Brushing your dog’s teeth will usually be easier if he’s tired and calm. Take him for a long walk or let him run around the dog park for a while before attempting to clean his teeth.

4. Brush his teeth—Working in circular motions, you’ll begin in the back of the mouth and move toward the front. Focus on the outside surface of each tooth because that’s where most of the plaque and tartar will build up. If he tolerates it, then work on the inside surface of each tooth.

5. Don’t force it—If your dog shows signs that he is scared or uncomfortable, stop brushing, give him affection, offer a treat, and try again tomorrow.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a dental exam or cleaning, please let us know!

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