Doggy dental hygiene

A few quick tips:

  • Dog teeth should be cleaned a few times a week, at a minimum. But every single day is not too much, according to my favourite vet. I clean my dog's teeth every day that I remember to do it, which is most days. My advice is: do it when you think of it, otherwise it's easy to get distracted and another day slips by without a cleaning.
  • Dog toothpastes come in different flavours: peanut and poultry are common ones. Your dog may prefer one over another.
  • Wet the toothbrush thoroughly first. Dog toothpaste is on the gummy side and you want some lubrication so the dog doesn't feel as though you might as well be using peanut butter. Dogs can't rinse afterwards, of course, so teeth-cleaning could be a bit mouth-drying. You might even want to offer your dog a drink of water afterwards.
  • Because the toothpaste is a bit gummy, it dries in tiny clumps within the bristles and at their base. I clear these dried clumps out with toothpicks, regularly.
  • Check the date on the toothpaste tube or container. It does expire, and you don't want to be giving 'off' toothpaste to your baby.
  • If your dog is resistant to having a cleaning, try to be brief to begin with, and make sure you're being vigorous but gentle. I get as much paste spread around my dog's teeth as quickly as I can, so that one side doesn't get emphasized or get most of the paste to the detriment of the other side. I cup my girl's lower jaw and gently scrub around, so I can't see what I'm doing but it doesn't matter -- because I feel where the brush is going. I try to mimic, in an approximate way, the sort of motion I use in my own mouth. I can't brush the backs of her teeth this way but at least I can get up to a full minute of cleaning accomplished. Once in a while I inspect her teeth by lifting her flews to make sure I'm not missing anything.
  • Don't pay extra for 'dog' toothbrushes. The intriguingly non-human ones I've found to be costly and unusable; the more straightforward ones are still expensive but simply look like cheap vintage-model human brushes (a popsicle stick with same-length bristles sticking out at one end). I also find that the dog toothbrushes are often too large and unwieldy. So I now use a real, high-quality human toothbrush for my dog. It works just fine.
  • Soft food is generally not good for dogs' dental health, but crunchy, crispy food generally is good. The best store-bought meal is probably hard kibble with fresh food mixed in or sprinkled on top, with some nice warm water to create a 'soup'. My girl likes chicken and fish as a topping -- and, if you can believe it, cauliflower. She also likes a touch of hot sauce. But the kibble is the basis of the meal and it's also helpful in keeping those pearly whites strong.

Dental equipment, ear cleanser, and a curry comb for hair. The last for my shorthaired breed is optional; the second is important at times; the first is essential ALL the time.