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Does your dog's yawning make you want to pinch your nose? Stinky breath in pets is extremely common, and although there are a lot of possible treatments, it's always a good idea to brush your dog's teeth daily if possible, or at least a few times a week to upkeep their overall health and stave off bacteria.
"Dental care is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care; however, it is necessary to provide optimum health and quality of life. Diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease." [source: American Animal Hospital Association]
Here are some common questions to help you get started with your home dental pet care.
Do I use a toothbrush to start?
No. Instead begin with your finger (the American Animal Hospital Association suggests dipping your finger in beef bouillon to begin with) and gently massage your dog's gums and teeth, focusing on the gum line. Next, try placing gauze over your finger and rubbing their teeth and gums. Eventually, once your dog has had multiple experiences to get accustomed to having their teeth brushed, you can use a special pet tooth brush (be sure it's extra soft).
Can I use Baking Soda or Human Toothpaste?
Nope! Both could cause your pup a stomach ache. Be sure to buy a toothpaste made especially for dogs.
What are the steps to take if my dog is resistant?
One strategy is to gently wrap your dog in a big towel that leaves only his head sticking out. Do your best to make the experience positive and soothing.
To break the steps down, here's a list from the American Animal Hospital Association:
Should I still take my pet to the Vet for dentist visits?
Absolutely. Brushing you pup's teeth at home is simply for maintenance and prevention and is not an effective means of treating or diagnosing possible ailments in their mouth.
"As your pet ages, your veterinarian will look for developmental anomalies, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease and oral tumors."