I work as a dog trainer for several local rescue groups. I frequently deal with new pet owners that don’t realize the steps that are involved in proper dental hygiene for their furry family member. If you think your dog’s dental hygiene is a hands-off concept, think again. Dogs need almost as much dental care as their human caretakers.

Brush Your Pooch’s Teeth

This should be common sense, but sometimes it’s overlooked by pet owners. You should brush Fido’s teeth at least twice per week. Always use a dog-specific toothbrush AND toothpaste. You can pick a kit up at your local pet store for around $5. The toothpastes come in such delectable flavors as beef, chicken and cheese, for even the pickiest palate. Never use human toothbrushes or toothpaste on your dog – this can cause irreparable harm.

When you brush Fifi’s teeth, sit behind her, and reach your hand around her front to hold her gently in place. Use your other hand to brush her teeth gently. Just like with your own teeth, brush the front, back, sides and every surface of each and every tooth. Use plenty of toothpaste, but don’t overdo it.

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Food

Give your pup plenty of dry kibble to help scrape plaque off his teeth. Feed premium brands, such as Evo, which provide high amounts of protein, low amounts of carbohydrates, and the proper nutrition for a carnivorous canine. Feed your dog the amount recommended by your veterinarian for optimum health.

Treats

Another overlooked aspect of doggie dental health is the type of treats that Spot gets. Choose treats that are designed to promote good dental health in your dog. Dentist’s Best treats are a great example, as they clean while your pup enjoys them. Greenies makes some treats shaped like a mini-toothbrush, with nubs to clean the teeth as they are chewed. In addition, beef bones and store-bought marrow bones are great choice. Be sure not to use poultry bones or small bones, these can splinter and puncture your furry baby’s esophagus, stomach or intestines and lead to internal bleeding and death.

Regular Checkups

Just like you go to the dentist twice per year, your dog’s teeth should be examined thoroughly by your veterinarian every six months. This can help stop problems before they start, and identify any problem areas that need to be addressed.

Good dental hygiene is essential for every living being. Take care of your dog’s teeth so they will take care of your dog.