How Do You Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy?

How Do You Keep Your Dogs Teeth Healthy

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Over 80% of dogs suffer from oral or dental disease by the age of two. I completely changed my mindset at my dog’s daily routine as poor dental health can greatly affect a dog’s immune system. This increases the chances of getting fatal diseases anywhere, from cancer, diabetes, infections, and heart disease. I have a list of easy things that I do to keep my dog’s teeth healthy.

Brushing Their Teeth Every Day

Starting off with an easy one, I brush my dog’s teeth every day, and you may have heard of this before. As I move forward, I will be sharing how you can get started in doing this, as well as giving you really easy hacks to make this simple and integrate into your daily routine.

It is very important to brush their teeth. A reason why you want to make sure that your dog is comfortable with this is to avoid a dental cleaning at the vet office and that can cost a significant amount. In most cases, it requires to place your dog under anesthesia, which can stress them out.

If you’re just getting started, skip the pet toothbrushes that you see at the pet store as they’re typically up charged. All I’ve seen has been expensive, so I just get one of those inexpensive human toothbrushes in the dollar store. 

You can just introduce the toothbrush, letting them get used to it. You can start by doing a couple teeth at a time, like getting in there and then stopping, and then going back the next day to do it over again.

Finally, it’s important that your dog is comfortable with you handling and being in and around their mouth. In case they get an injury, like a bee sting inside their mouth, and you need to take them to the vet, you want them to be comfortable with having hands in their mouth. You don’t want it to be completely foreign, so this is an overall good bonding experience and important for their health.

How Do You Keep Your Dogs Teeth Healthy

Taking Your Dogs to the Vet

This is something that is not usually talked about, but I make sure to take my dogs to the vet at least once a year for an actual oral exam. The vet can check and see if there is any plaque or tartar buildup, check the gum health of your dog, and look at their tongue.

This is important because there can be cancers and other diseases that can develop inside the mouth that a trained professional will really need to be able to keep an eye on.

What to Feed Your Dog

In order to keep my dog’s teeth healthy for as long as possible, I feed my dogs a species appropriate fresh food diet. My dogs do not eat a dry processed kibble diet. I know what you’re going to say so let me stop you right there.

I want to give you a quick summary here. There is a big myth out in the pet industry saying that kibble is important for dogs because it actually cleans their teeth. 

First, let’s think about what kibble is. How do they make it shelf stable since it can sit in pet food stores for months or even up to years at a time? How do they make it so affordable? The reality is, kibble is full of carbohydrates. That’s how they make those starchy, little nuggets. But, I am not 100% against kibble.

Telling a pet parent that a dry, high carb, taking note that carbs convert into sugar, cleans our dog’s teeth effectively is completely false. It would be like a doctor telling you that in order to have clean teeth, you need to go eat potato chips or crackers because they’re very similar to how kibble is produced and manufactured.

I am SO tired of seeing those little green dental chews or these popular bite-sized dental chews at all the big pet stores, claiming that they’re cleaning our dog’s teeth when the primary ingredients in these are wheat flour, wheat gluten, oat fiber, and other preservatives.

In my experience, the best way for my dog’s teeth to stay clean is feeding them a low-carb diet and that’s why I feed them a fresh food diet, which is really important because the food is fresher and raw. All of the digestive enzymes that can help break down the tartar and plaque buildup in our dog’s teeth are actually present.

Another thing that I do to make sure that their teeth are always clean is feeding them raw, meaty bones as a supplement, appropriate for their size. Again, raw, NOT cooked. You need to throw it away once the meat and the marrow is eaten, but it is an amazing toothbrush. In the wild, that’s how their teeth stay so clean, chewing and gnawing on those bones.

Using Appropriate and Healthy Chews

Probably my favorite way of keeping my dog’s teeth healthy and in a fun way is using biologically appropriate and healthy chews that are targeted to clean my dog’s teeth. This requires very little effort on my end and my dogs love it.

A few examples include:

  • Raw meaty bones (1 to 3 times a week)
  • Coco Chew
  • Bully Chews
  • Icelandic Lamb Horns
  • Hand Wrapped Cod Skin Chews

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

I’m going to give you some tips on brushing your dog’s teeth and how to get your dogs to enjoy it. If your dog doesn’t love the toothbrush and you want to brush your dog’s teeth, which is so important, this is how to do it.

Let’s jump into how to brush your dog’s teeth right.

  1. Get a toothbrush and you want to start very slow. You can start at any age whether they’re a new 8-9 week old puppy or an adult dog.
  1. Introduce it to them casually, so don’t get too excited. Don’t reprimand them if they chew on it a little bit. 
  1. Show your dog the toothbrush, and then treat, and show again. Do this several times over for a couple of minutes at a time.
  1. It’s all about progression. You take it slow and always use positive reinforcement.
  1. After the next few days, I’ll gently hold his snout and brush the front teeth. I do this for a few seconds and I reward them with treats.
  1. Then you introduce the toothpaste.
  1. Make sure to get those back molars and scrub their tongue.
  1. Do this once a day every day, not taking more than a minute or two.
  1. Practice, practice, practice.

DIY Toothpaste Recipe

NEVER use human toothpaste. I want to make sure you know that human toothpaste can be deadly and toxic to dogs. I highly recommend using a DIY all-natural dog-friendly toothpaste versus a commercially purchased one just to avoid chemicals.

Years ago, I really did my research on what’s the most natural and healthy way that I can make toothpaste at home. You only need two things to make this.

Recipe:

  1. Two tablespoons of baking soda
  2. Two tablespoons of coconut oil (organic and unrefined)

You just mix those two together until it creates a sticky mixture. You can use a toothbrush, some gauze, or a soft rag to wipe around your dog’s teeth. If I want to amp it up a bit, I love to puree or finely mince organic parsley, combine it with the mixture, and then brush my dog’s teeth.

The parsley helps to freshen their breath. The coconut oil is very flavorful to a dog and is a natural antimicrobial, so it’s great at cleaning teeth. The baking soda is a natural abrasive ingredient, which means it helps scrape away the buildup on your dog’s teeth.

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