The Daily Spike: Tips for brushing your dog's teeth

Who doesn’t love puppy breath? It’s a very unique smell that can only come from a cute little ball of fur. But as those pups grow older, that smell can turn downright stinky if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth properly.

Canine dental hygiene is very important, not just this month — which happens to be National Pet Dental Month — but always. Just like with humans, regular brushing can keep your dog’s breath clean and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. And it will hopefully keep your vet bills down.

THE DAILY SPIKE: PUPPY LOVE AND FINDING THE PERFECT MATCH

With Spike, I brush his teeth at least once a week using a special toothpaste that he loves. It tastes like chicken.

PICS: SPIKE CELEBRATES HIS FIRST BIRTHDAY

And aside from adding chicken-flavoring, Canine Companions for Independence also has some tips for brushing your dog’s teeth:

  • Ideally, a dog’s teeth should be brushed at a minimum of once a week, but it’s fine to brush every day!  Regular brushing can reduce the need for dental cleanings at the vet, which require anesthesia.
  • Be sure to use special dog toothpaste approved by a veterinarian. These are enzymatic and keep working after brushing. Human toothpaste is unsafe for dogs.
  • Make sure the toothpaste tastes good. Spike loves his chicken-flavored toothpaste but there are many other yummy flavors. Let them taste it first, without the toothbrush. I put some on my finger and let him try it out first.
  • It’s best if you have your dog in the cradling position, where your dog is on his back in your lap. It’s comforting to them, they can’t squirm away, and you can also give them belly rubs in the process.
  • Most plaque buildup occurs on the outside of the back molars, so make sure to get in there when you brush.
  • There are special dog toothbrushes, but it is OK to use a human-grade toothbrush if easier. Remember to rinse the toothbrush after each use to remove excess bacteria and paste.
  • If something doesn’t look right, or you think a tooth has been injured or infected, visit your vet.

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Brushing can actually be really fun for both owners and their dogs — and, as demonstrated above, it's also highly Instagrammable. Good luck!

To learn more about Canine Companions, visit CCI.org.