Oral hygiene is essential for dogs as much as it is for us humans. In fact, it might actually be more critical for our four legged friends than us. This is due to the fact that unfortunately, dogs are more prone to oral infections and inflammations in the tooth and gum regions. Periodontal diseases occupy a lot of time in your vet’s schedule, with over 70% of pets getting it at some point within the first 3 years of their lives. Regular cleaning of the teeth, especially the region where the teeth meet the gums (also known as gingival sulcus) is essential to maintain your pet’s oral health and avoid potentially dangerous periodontal diseases.

 

Though vets and pet grooming professionals generally take care of these procedures as well, your dog’s oral hygiene can be easily achieved and maintained at home with some effort and training. Here is how to get it done at home:

 

  1. Get him/her used to the process: Dogs respond well to gradual and deliberate conditioning. They need to get used to your hands working on their mouth, teeth and gums. This will take time above anything else. So go about it gradually, rewarding them for allowing your hands to touch their teeth and gums while lying down. For starters, you might want to reward them for letting you lift their lips or opening their mouth. Getting them to keep still without getting excited is the key here. Use caution and plenty of positive reinforcement, since it is very easy to get bitten during this whole process, even if purely by accident.

 

  1. Get the right tools and training: if you plan on doing nothing more than brushing your pooch’s teeth and gums, getting a good brush from the pet supplies section is all the preparation you will need. Just remember to be gentle when wielding the brush! But if you want, you can go all professional on this and get a proper set of dental instruments for scaling and cleaning the gum line. After all, nothing is too much for your furball, is it? But professional tools means getting some level of formal training on handling these instruments. You can do more harm than good if your attempt to scale tartar and clean plaque without knowing how to properly use these instruments.

 

  1. You might want to knock them out: and by that we mean putting your pet under anesthesia. The best results can be achieved with professional dental instruments if you put them under anesthesia. But unfortunately, this is not an advisable practice for home use unless you have professional training in veterinary medicine. Best bet in this instance might be to head to your vet and get a comprehensive dental examination also done at the same time. An annual oral exam with dental x-rays is essential anyways.

 

So, unless you have the time and resources to commit to getting some formal training, stick to training your dog to sit still while you brush his/her teeth on a daily/regular basis. Head to your vet at least once a year for a comprehensive dental health checkup and professional oral cleaning session. If you are unable to spend time on brushing their teeth everyday, give your pets a healthy supply of rawhide chews infused with dental enzymes. These are easily available in pet stores and will help your dog keep his/her teeth and gums clean.

 

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