Dental Hygiene for Dogs

Dr. Benson: Today we're at The Art of Braces, and I have with me here today two very special guests. This is my friend, Blaine, and this is his dog, Penny. She is an adventurous Pit bull, who you might've seen out in Red Rock, or maybe in Utah, doing some hiking, canyoneering, and repelling.

Dr. Benson: We have Penny here to demonstrate a very important part of taking care of your pets. We do so much to give them healthy food, take them for their dental check-ups, and give them plenty of exercise. But sometimes, one of the things that pet owners can tend to neglect is their dental health.

Dr. Benson: So Blaine, why don't you tell me a little bit more about what you do for Penny, to take care of her teeth.

Blaine: Sure. So, Penny is a rescue. I got her when she was somewhere between one and two years old. And when I got her, I can vividly remember just how white her teeth were, like stunningly white. And I wanted to keep it that way. So, from when I first got her, we started with dental hygiene. We started with probably the most simple and common version, which is just treats.

Blaine: So, the first one here, everybody's seen these, these are dental sticks. The ones I use are made by I Heart Dogs. Incredible company, they give a ton back to the homeless dog community. I'm also a big fan of Greenies, it's a well grounded brand. They make all different size, for all different size dogs, and specifically for dental health.

Blaine: Also very common are toys. So, harder, rubberized toys, but rather than the smooth surface of a bone, these will have lots of edges, almost kinda like toothbrush bristles. And the idea there is when the dog's using them, it's gonna make full contact with the gums, all of the teeth, and really help to stimulate some cleaning.

Blaine: From there, there are some little bit more, I think, robust solutions, if you can get your dog to that point. So, working on your way towards using a toothbrush with your dog, they may or may not be comfortable with that. So, start with something like peanut butter, or baby food, something you know the pup's gonna enjoy. And you'll just work on getting to the point where you can be close to the dog without a whole lot of resistance.

Blaine: From there, you can graduate onto something like this, which is similar to a thimble, but it's essentially a toothbrush on this side, it's ridges on this side, as well.

Dr. Benson: And if you don't have something like this yet, you can start off with just a small, damp cloth to wipe their teeth, or even just gauze.

Blaine: And then, from there, the next progression is something like this, a gel, or a toothpaste.

Dr. Benson: Do not ever use a human toothpaste because if the dog swallows it, it's not gonna be safe. Dog toothpastes are generally flavored with something that they might like to eat more, such as meat.

Blaine: We'll see if I can get Penny's attention right now. And I don't know if you can see from there, but she's done this enough to where I can actually say, "Penny, let me see them. Let me see them. Let me see them," and she starts to lift her gum, so that she can actually allow me to get in closer to her teeth. We've been doing this for a few years, so it's a little bit easier, thankfully, at this point.

Blaine: The final progression is moving on to the toothbrush. Different about dog toothbrush is you'll see they've got a little bit different shape.

Dr. Benson: And the goal is ideally, to brush your dog's teeth once a day, but that's probably not realistic for most pet owners, so anywhere around at least three or four times per week. And then, just like it's important for us to go see the dentist at least twice a year, it's important to take your dog to the vet for their dental check-up and cleanings, as well.

Dr. Benson: Blaine, I know you take Penny to the vet about once a year, they actually put her to sleep, and they do a full dental check-up and cleaning.

Dr. Benson: A sad statistic is that over 85% of dog over the age of four have some type of gum disease, and this can lead to some infections that can spread into their bloodstream, cause them to have some serious health problems. So guys, make sure that you bring your dog to the vet. And though you might have dental anxiety, but your dog doesn't know that. So, it's really important when you're getting in the car that you act excited about it, that it's just like you're going on any other fun outing, because if you're feeling anxious, your dog is gonna sense that from you, and they're gonna start to feel anxious, as well.

Blaine: With that, I think Penny needs her treat of the day.