Do You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Golden retriever Orly sits as her teeth are brushed with a pink toothbrush

Brushing dog teeth is part of our nightly routine … but I know that that’s not the case for most dogs and their people. (But if your dog gives you dog kisses … you might want to start!)

I’ve known several dogs who lost many teeth as they aged, due to gingivitis or decay. And many more dog families that spent several hundred dollars annually on professional dental cleanings for their dogs.

I’ve brushed my goldens’ teeth, starting when each was a young puppy. When she was little, Cali would walk over to the shelf where her toothbrush was kept and ask to have her teeth brushed. She later decided that she didn’t enjoy it, but she was always cooperative. Orly is still in the asking-for-it stage.

I sweeten the deal with a crunchy treat, and I suspect that that has a lot to do with their cooperation. Whatever works! Jana, Cali, and now Orly all had / have beautiful white teeth!

I use kids’ toothbrushes — soft ones — from the dollar store and dog toothpaste. There are several brands, but I mostly use Petrodex because everyone likes the taste and it’s easy to find.

Orly sits patiently while I brush — top, bottom, inside, outside — then she likes to lick the brush clean. Finally, she gets a cookie and heads off to bed.

Your vet might say that it’s fine to brush a couple times a week, but I found that if I didn’t make it part of a daily routine, I wouldn’t remember to do it at all. So we do it every night.

Golden Orly licks the toothbrush clean after brushing her teethThere are other ways to keep dogs’ teeth clean. Dogs who chew a lot of fresh bones or antlers tend to have little plaque buildup. There are also products you can add to the dog’s water to kill bacteria and reduce buildup, but I have never used them so I don’t know how palatable or effective they are.

Brushing only takes a minute and, once you’re in the habit, it’s not a big deal for most dogs. Imagine life with no more “dog breath”! And … think of all the money you’ll save — not to mention the worry of sedation — by avoiding veterinary cleanings!



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