Regular dental care for your pooch is important because our furry friends can suffer from plaque and tartar buildup just like we do. Unlike us, though, our canine companions can't brush their own teeth, so they need their owners to do it for them. To do this, you'll need to use special veterinary toothpaste that's safe for your pup and tastes pleasant to him.
Toothpaste for Pups
You can purchase special toothpaste designed for canines in pet supply stores or through your veterinarian's office. During your regular visit to the vet, she'll likely recommend a type or brand of toothpaste to use with your furry friend's teeth to keep them free or plaque and tartar. Canine toothpaste tubes usually come as part of a dental kit containing a small doggie toothbrush. Toothpaste for pups comes in different flavors designed to appeal to your pooch's taste buds, which vary. Flavors like beef or chicken may please your pup more than other types, such as citrus or mint.
What's in It?
Some types of toothpaste for pooches contain baking soda, which is mildly abrasive and helps to clean away debris from the teeth. Unfortunately, the taste of such pastes may be a bit unpleasant for your dog and they may upset your pup's tummy. Other types of dog toothpastes contain special enzymes to clear away bacteria from your pooch's mouth, thus discouraging the formation of tartar on his teeth. These enzymatic ingredients include glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase, which break down plaque in the mouth, VetInfo reports.
Enzyme-based doggie toothpaste don't require water to rinse them away and merely need to be applied to your pup's teeth with either a doggy toothbrush or a piece of gauze. These pastes work well with our canine friends because they can safely be swallowed with no ill effects and don't require a lot of brushing because they work chemically, according to Harmony Animal Hospital.
Sharing Your Toothpaste?
You might be wondering why you can't just share your own toothpaste with your pup. Toothpastes designed for humans contain ingredients that foam in the mouth and require rinsing to remove them, which is impractical for brushing your pooch's chompers. More importantly, these pastes contain chemicals that can be toxic to your pup or, at the very least, will cause stomach upset. One such ingredient is xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can easily poison your pup in small amounts, causing a dangerous drop in his blood-sugar levels, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So skip the human toothpaste and only use toothpaste designed especially for our canine friends on your furry friend's teeth.
Brushing Those Chompers
To choose the right toothpaste for your particular pup, allow him to taste a little on your finger. After all, your pooch is going to be the deciding factor in the paste you choose for him. If he doesn't like it, brushing his teeth will be difficult, if not a nightmare. Try to find some sample sizes of different pastes or see if your vet has some on hand to try. Once you find one with a taste and texture he enjoys, rub a bit on his teeth and gums with your finger or a brush for a few seconds, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend on his daily dental care. Reward him with a treat, preferably a crunchy dental treat, afterwards to positively reinforce the experience. In addition, have your vet check your pup's pearly whites during your annual or twice-annual vet visit to see if he needs a professional dental cleaning.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Ten Steps to Your Dog’s Dental Health
- petMD: Toxicity from Gum, Candy, and Toothpaste in Dogs
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Toothpaste
- Cesar's Way: Dog Dental Care: How to Clean Dogs' Teeth
- VetInfo: What Is the Best Toothpaste for Dogs?
- VetInfo: Why Dog Toothpaste is Essential for Pet Care
- Harmony Animal Hospital: Dental Frequently Asked Questions
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.