The Importance of Dental Hygiene

A few years ago I took a Pet First Aid and CPR training course so I would be fully prepared in the case of an emergency when pet sitting someone else’s dog. I remember an entire portion of the training being dedicated to dental hygiene, which goes to show you it’s a pretty important part of your pet’s health. In fact, it’s the first thing to look for if your pet seems ill or is showing unusual behavior.

Bad breath can be a sign of periodontal disease 

      Studies show that 98 % of dogs with bad breath are suffering from periodontal disease, a result of plaque build up. If left untreated, this can lead to a bacteria infection, which can enter the bloodstream and spread to your dog’s kidney, liver, heart and even their brain. Chances are if your dog has very bad breath, there is a problem with his teeth

Start brushing when they’re young 

The best way to get your pet used to the feel of a good teeth cleaning is to start when they are young. There are a number of ways you can do this. Some people start by just rubbing their finger along their pet’s teeth and gums so they get used to the feeling. Others purchase a small finger brush (it just slides over your finger) and then put peanut butter on it so your pet associated the activity with receiving a treat.  You may need to try a few things before figuring out what works for you and your pet.

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Hard kibble over soft food

Most people think it’s easier on your pet’s teeth if they chew soft food instead of hard. Studies show that this is not the case as the soft food gets lodged in their gums and between their teeth and can cause decay. Whereas chewing the hard kibble can clean the teeth and brush off the tartar. It’s also a good idea to give them a hard toy or bone to chew on to prevent diseases and other periodontal infections.

Brush twice a week

When you discover what brushing method works best for you and your pet, it’s important to keep a routine and do a cleaning twice a week. Also, have your pet’s gums checked by your veterinarian at least once a year. If you can see tartar build up or decay (see picture above), schedule a cleaning (which usually involves anesthesia).


If you are interested in becoming certified in Pet CPR and First Aid, contact Pet Tech for training classes near you.


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