If your dog will let you brush their teeth there is a lot of health benefits that can be achieved. Dental health is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of dog health care. Scout won’t lie and say that dogs don’t mind getting their teeth brushed. It feels funny and unnatural to a pooch to have their mouth open and something put in it for even a minute. Dog’s are used to food and water and not much else besides the occasional mouthful of fur if they are playing rough!
Like many specialty items, there is a premium you will pay for dog toothpaste that is already made for you. It may also contain ingredients that are not necessarily the best for your dog.
Protects your dog’s teeth from decay and the pain and infections that can result from poor dental hygiene. Dogs can put a lot of wear and tear on their teeth over time. Those that have not had the best diet over the years can have signs of advanced tooth decay. Dogs with longer average lifespans have a greater chance of reaching a point where their teeth are causing them a lot of problems.
Small dogs tend to have worse dental hygiene than large dogs. A small warm space means that food and bacteria can stick around for longer than you might like. This means that small dogs are very prone to poor dental health. Also on average, smaller dogs have longer natural life expectancy than large breeds so they are sometimes more likely to develop advanced dental issues that require major veterinary care. Small breeds are especially good at finding human foods that have been dropped at dinner time or even when just out and about town. Your dog may be getting more human foods than you might realize!
Doggy breath can get pretty gross and lead to others not really enjoying their time around your dog as much. A very basic dental hygiene routine can prevent a lot of the odors that are so unpleasant. Remember that bad breath comes from food breaking down and bacteria.
While it may seem like what is good for you would be fine for your dog the truth is that some of the ingredients found in human toothpaste are toxic to dogs. Never, ever use a human toothpaste on your dog. There is also the fact that dogs do not care for the minty or fruity flavor of human toothpastes. That super peppermint toothpaste you love may seem too powerful of a flavor for your dog. Remember that they have super-sensitive smell and taste systems that intensify the effects of any flavor.
How to Make Your Own Dog Toothpaste
There are a lot of different recipes, but they all contain the same basic staples. We’ve listed all the basic ingredients you’ll need for your dental health kit, plus our favorite tried-and-true toothpaste recipe.
Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil, Virgin, 78 Ounce
Good old baking soda has a lot of uses. It is often found in toothpaste made for people as well. Buying it in large bags is recommended for any household because it can be used for so many things around the home as well as making your dog some healthy toothpaste.
2 x 13.5 Pounds Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda (27 Pounds Total)
You have to be careful using too much peppermint oil. It can tingle and burn too much but a few drops will do a lot to freshen your dog’s breath and keep it that way longer.
Did you know that parsley has a majorly good effect on your dog’s breath? Feeding your dog fresh or dried parsley can help alleviate bad breath and is a good additive for toothpaste.
Beef Or Chicken Bouillon Cubes Or Granules
A good flavor will make your dog look forward to tooth cleaning time. Any grocery store has inexpensive bouillon that dogs think is the greatest thing ever. Cubes or granules work so if you find a good deal on either, go ahead and stock up.
Coconut Oil Based Dog Toothpaste
This recipe has a long shelf life since it is stored in the fridge. Just make sure to label it well to avoid mistakes!
½ cup coconut oil
¼ teaspoon tumeric
¼ teaspoon kelp (Norwegian is highest quality)
A pinch of dried parsley
Melt coconut oil and add dry ingredients. Allow to cool and use as needed for brushing your dog’s teeth. Store in fridge.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
The ingredients Scout has talked about are all ok to use on dogs so you can add a little more or less of any of them and create your own blend for your dog. Anything is ok as long as it is not toxic to pooches or full of sugar! If your dog has a lot of tartar and stains you may want to include more baking soda for whitening action or if breath is a major concern, some extra parsley!
Homemade toothpaste can be whipped up quickly which is one reason to not be tempted to make more than enough for a few weeks at a time. Some ingredients might not keep as well as others. If you are adding some type of flavoring that is meat based then you might want to not add it until brushing time if you want your toothpaste to have the longest shelf life.
Teaching Your Dog to Get Their Teeth Brushed
A lot of people immediately say “My dog would never let me do that” when they think of brushing their teeth. The reality is that while some dogs may struggle, they also will get used to it. Starting with good habits early in your puppy’s life will make things easier for you both over the years and reduce stress when medical care is necessary. Here are some tips:
Give it Time
Trying to rush your dog through that first brushing is not a good idea. Don’t try to do this when you don’t have some time to give your dog some special attention. Pick a time when you are both calm and make sure to talk to them or pet them a lot throughout the process. Stop if they are getting a little out of hand but then start back. This way you are sending a message that it is going to happen regardless.
Give your pooch a dental chew or another treat after brushing. Perhaps taking a walk or tossing around their favorite toy is something you could do? If dogs realize that there is something good at the end every time then they might not be as difficult. My husband’s parents had a dog named Dusty that was a Chow Mix. I always thought he looked like Winnie The Pooh in a way. I remember the first time I gave him a bath. I started running the water and then looking for him and he had jumped in the bathtub and was waiting. My point is that dogs can actually learn to look forward to doing things that a lot of dogs find not acceptable if you approach it with positive reinforcement.
Invest in Brushes
A toothbrush that is right for your dog is definitely needed. Smaller mouths may need a brush that comes in a small dog size. Another great option is a finger toothbrush. Finger toothbrushes are nifty little gadgets that slip right on your finger and have a bristled end. This can be easier for some dogs and owners than a traditional brush because it is softer and there is no hard object like a plastic toothbrush handle. If your dog can handle you rubbing your finger in their mouth then you can get them on the path to good dental hygiene for life.
Pet Republique Cat & Dog Finger Toothbrush Set of 3 / 6 – Dental Hygiene Brushes for Small to Large Dogs, Cats, & Most Pets (Regular Set of 6)
Disposable toothbrushes are also a great option, especially if you’re a germaphobe and not too keen on the idea of keeping a used doggy brush around (dogs’ mouths are pretty gross). That doesn’t mean you can’t get more than one use out of them but it does allow you to throw them away without feeling like you are wasting money. Each brush is duel headed so you have options for dogs and cats of all sizes. If you were careful and had two dogs of different sizes you could get a brushing for each out of each toothbrush.
If you prefer finger toothbrushes, they have disposable inexpensive packs of those as well.
Top Performance ProDental Dual-End Toothbrushes — Convenient Toothbrushes for Cleaning Pets' Teeth, 50-Pack
Top Performance ProDental Finger Brushes — Convenient Toothbrushes for Cleaning Pets' Teeth, 50-Pack
Try Out a Few Recipes
If you are just getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed you may want to try out a few recipes and see which one that seem to tolerate the best. Most dogs will enjoy any meat flavored experience whereas something that is too heavy on peppermint oil may cause them to run away when they see you get out the brush. An old standby that most dogs enjoy is Petrodex. It looks gross, but this poultry-flavored toothpaste uses enzymatic action to clean your dog’s teeth while reducing and preventing plaque and tartar build-up and inflamed gums. This toothpaste is apparently so good that the main problem with brushing your dog’s teeth is dealing with them trying to eat this stuff up!
Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste Dog Poultry Flavor, 6.2 oz
Know When to Enlist Professional Help
Some dogs just cannot be placated. Although most dogs can be taught to allow someone to brush their teeth there are some circumstances where it may not be possible without medications to calm them down or possibly forgoing the brushing and just using treats that have a cleaning action. Older dogs or those that have been abused can be particularly difficult dental patients. For major dental care, some dogs have to be given something to make them relax before anything at all can be done. If your dog has a really nervous personality then it may be worth it to get your vet to design and help you implement a good dental hygiene routine for your pooch.
If your dog becomes too emotional for you to safely clean their teeth, or if (as is often the case with rescues) years of neglect have pushed the issue well past the point of home remedies, make an appointment with your vet. Pay attention to the condition of your dog’s gums and teeth, too. Any inflammation that does not seem to go away with brushing should be looked at by your vet. A dental abscess is very serious for a dog just like it is for you. This means you should never ignore it. A dog may not even demonstrate that they’re in pain, but that doesn’t mean an abscess is not causing damage and pain to your pooch.
Maintain Oral Health Between Brushings or Vet Cleanings
It isn’t necessary to brush your dog’s teeth every day. You can stretch out the time between regular brushings by making a few modifications to your dog’s diet & routine.
There are a ton of dental chews out there for dogs, use them! They should be used in place of regular brushings, but they’re a great stop gap – and dogs generally love the taste. These can help reduce plaque and tarter as well as freshen breath in between a weekly brushing.
PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Large Dog Chew Treats, Fresh, 28 Treats
There are plenty of different water additives that can help your dog with their breath and overall dental health. This can be as simple as adding a few cupfuls of flavorful solution to your dog’s water dish with each fill up. These additives reduce tartar and plaque build-up and keep breath fresh and your dog’s dish from being yucky. Adding flavor to water can also make it more appealing for your dog or cat so they drink a more healthy amount for their body size. Some water additives also contain other things like probiotics.
Arm & Hammer Advanced Pet Care Dental Water Additive for Dogs – Vanilla Mint
Dog Food Choices
Some dog foods are better for dental health than others. If your dog seems to be suffering from really smelly breath then you should look at what you are feeding them. Some dog foods can create not so great breath. More natural based dog foods without a lot of added grains or cheap fillers like poultry digest are well worth it for your dog’s health and to create better breath and dental health. Just like with people, a quality balanced diet can go a long way towards a lifetime of great dental health.
People foods might seem like a great treat and your dog may love it when you indulge them but a lot of our foods are sweet and not good for their dental health. A lot of treats and snacks won’t just add a lot of weight to your dog, it very well might be contributing to dental issues that could cause a lot of pain later on.
Maintaining A Dental Hygiene Routine
Getting into a routine with your dog can take some time. In the beginning, you don’t want to rush them at all or it can cause a lot of fear that can be hard to fix. Set aside the same time every week or a few times a week for dental care. Giving a treat at the end can help alleviate fears and anxiety. If you are stressed it is best to wait until you have the frame of mind to do the job right. You can definitely make your own great dog toothpaste but buying it is not hard on the budget either. Scout hopes this article has helped you think through what is best for your pooch and their present and future dental health.