Dog Tooth Care

Why keep on top of dog tooth care at home?

Well, it's one of the simplest ways to prevent damage to your wallet and to your dog's health.

Like many dog owners, we ignored dog tooth care for years. Their teeth stayed good because they chewed on bones.

It used to be possible to get free or cheap bones.

Large dog showing a set of healthy looking  teeth out of a car windowA healthy looking set of teeth and gums!

However, once bones became an expensive commercial item, we bought far fewer bones.

When Comet was about 6 years old, we noticed that he had brown areas on his teeth, parts of his gums were bleeding, and his breath smelled bad. We took him to the vet for a dental checkup.

Fortunately, he didn't need fillings, root canals or extractions. However, he had to have his teeth cleaned, which was done by giving him general anesthesia so he'd stay still. That was scary as there's always a health risk when such anesthesia is used.

We paid over $300 (in 2006) for the whole procedure. This included a checkup and preparatory blood work. The latter was done to make sure he did not have hidden health problems that would affect how he handled the general anesthesia. Other costs were for the anesthesia itself, the dental cleaning and the antibiotics given to eliminate the gum disease.

Needless, to say, we weren't thinking about doing dot tooth cleanings every 6 months, like we did with our own teeth... There had to be a better way!

Dog Tooth Care Instructions

After a little research, we found dog teeth and gums need to be scrubbed on a regular basis, the exception being dogs fed a raw or cooked food diet that includes bones.

We found some liver and mint-flavored toothpastes at the local pet store, specifically for dogs. This toothpaste, unlike human toothpaste, is harmless when swallowed. One tube lasted us many months.

They also had dog toothbrushes for sale. They didn't look that different from human toothbrushes, so we used human toothbrushes with soft bristles.

Here’s how we brushed Comet's teeth:

  1. We placed some toothpaste about the size of half a pea on the toothbrush.
  2. Then we let him sniff and lick at the toothpaste on the brush.
  3. We gently put the brush between the teeth at the back end of his jaw on one side and did some circular brush strokes for as long as he would tolerate.
  4. If he tried to chew on the toothbrush, we sometimes let him, especially if we had plenty of old toothbrushes handy.
  5. Then we did the other side, and sometimes repeated with both sides.
  6. We did this at least 3 times a week.

We found it helped to put our hand around Comet’s jaw on the other side from where we were brushing. If we noticed any bleeding of the gums, we did extra brushing in that area until the bleeding cleared up. We never took him for a cleaning again - he was checked a year or so after we started on this regimen.

Neglecting Dog Tooth Care

We've been lucky. Some owners ignore dental care for dogs for too long and end up with a bill for thousands of dollars. In some cases the dog has to be put down. Please don't let that happen to your dog or your pocketbook!

Take a look inside your dog’s mouth. Plaque shows up as a yellowish film on the teeth. Tartar is a dark brown. Look at the gums as well. If they're bright red, then periodontitis is present. If the gums bleed when you brush them or play tug-of-war with your dog, periodontitis is also the culprit. Another possible symptom of problems is bad breath.

Some dog owners fail to look inside their dog’s mouth for years. They assume that bad doggie breath is inevitable. At some point, the gum disease and tooth decay are so painful that the dog has trouble eating. 

Taking your dog to a vet at this point means a huge bill. Getting your dog’s teeth cleaned is the least of it. If your dog also needs a root canal or two or to have teeth extracted, as well as antibiotics to take care of gum disease, you could be looking at thousands of dollars.

Bad bacteria in the mouth can also travel to other parts of the dog’s body and cause severe problems, even death. A dog’s life can reportedly be shortened by about four years if dental disease is left untreated.

For more money saving ideas to do things for your dogs at home, return from Dog Tooth Care to Homemade Dog Remedies.