Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth at Home

Your Shetland sheepdog Rusty charms everyone with his shiny white teeth and fresh breath. Rusty gets regular dental cleanings and exams from his Livonia veterinarian. The vet wants Rusty’s teeth to escape the plaque, or bacteria, accumulation that affects many dogs. Once that plaque gets a foothold, it can harden into tartar, which your vet must remove during a professional cleaning. Since regular toothbrushing contributes to Rusty’s good dental health, you’re beginning a regular brushing regimen for Rusty.


Dog-Friendly Toothpaste

You haven’t bought Rusty’s seafood- or poultry-flavored toothpaste yet, but you think he’ll scarf it up like a tasty dog treat. Since licking the toothpaste off your finger is part of Rusty’s brushing routine, he should be a very happy dog indeed. Don’t ever give Rusty human toothpaste, as it’s not meant to be swallowed and has ingredients that can roil Rusty’s stomach.


Doggie Toothbrush

Rusty gets his own personal toothbrush, too. Canine brushes are very soft, and feature a long, angled handle to help you reach Rusty’s back teeth. If Rusty was a small dog, say a terrier under 30 pounds, a finger brush would also work well.


Toothbrushing Strategy

When Rusty’s lying down calmly, kneel or sit next to him. Rub your finger gently along his outside upper gums and teeth; and then put some doggie toothpaste on your finger before repeating your actions. After Rusty happily licks off the toothpaste, apply some paste to the toothbrush. Angle the brush so the bristles contact his teeth/gum line at a 45-degree angle. Brush carefully in a small circle, as this helps dislodge plaque and massages Rusty’s tender gums. Brush a few teeth per session, topping out at about two minutes’ total brushing time. Praise Rusty for his good behavior during this dental appointment.


Dental Chews

You might be confused by the dozens of doggie dental chews on the market. Many of them claim to be effective plaque-fighting and fresh-breath tools, but it’s difficult to know the facts. Ask your vet to prescribe an effective, safe dental chew that works well for his patients. Make sure the chew is appropriately sized for Rusty’s mouth.


Finally, your Livonia vet can recommend a plaque-fighting canine dental rinse for Rusty. After you squirt the rinse inside Rusty’s cheeks, it binds directly to his teeth and soft mouth tissues. Again, ask which rinse has provided your vet’s other patients with the best results.

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