Dog toothpaste is not just a quirky idea. If you want to keep your four legged friend as happy and healthy as possible, it's a necessity. That's because, like humans, poor dental health in dogs can leave them open to developing other health problems like heart, liver and kidney disease. So keeping your dog's teeth clean is an important form of preventative care.
Unfortunately, most dogs don't like the idea of having their teeth cleaned so it can sometimes be a struggle. The sooner they get used to the experience, the less traumatic it will be for them, so start when they're puppies. And using toothpaste for dogs, which is made in flavors that appeal to dogs such as poultry or meat, can also help a great deal.
Of course, using dog toothpaste is about more than just keeping them comfortable, it's also about keeping them safe. Human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs. For that reason, you should absolutely never use human toothpaste or baking soda on your dog. Keep in mind that humans rinse after brushing, but dogs end up swallowing most of the toothpaste and that's why you want to use specially formulated canine toothpaste, which can be found at most major pet retailers.
Aside from choosing a toothpaste for dogs, there are other steps you can take in order to take the trauma out of the experience. Letting the dog have a little taste of the toothpaste first can help, as can talking to him soothingly throughout and being sure to praise him for his good behavior in tolerating the cleaning. You might even want to end the whole procedure by giving him a treat, possibly a dental chew or specially designed dog biscuit intended to help clean the teeth.
Your dog is relying on you to maintain their dental health. Just be sure to use toothpaste for dogs as it is specially formulated.
At the same time, technique is just as important as which dog toothpaste you use. You should only clean the outside of the teeth (the side toward the cheek) as most dogs will not tolerate someone trying to clean the inside of their teeth. And you want to use a soft bristle brush and move in a gentle, circular motion. This is not only easier to tolerate but will also stimulate the gums at the same time.
You can and should lift your dog's lip to expose the base of the teeth so that you can get right up to the gums with the toothpaste for dogs. And you should be sure to get all the way to the back upper molars and canines, as these teeth tend to build up tartar more rapidly.
Another good tip is to brush your dog's teeth just after he's had a period of exercise, as he's more likely to sit still for it when he's tired. This is particularly helpful for active breeds like the Australian Shepherd.
As with humans, it is important for a dog's teeth to be cleaned every day. The more you stay on top of his dental health, the better off he'll be. And along with using a special brush and dog toothpaste to regularly clean his teeth, you should take him to the vet for a professional cleaning every six months to a year. This is important, as the vet will be able to detect any possible health issues connected to his oral hygiene.
Don't just assume that good oral hygiene is only important for people. It is equally crucial for our canine companions and they rely on us to help them do the brushing. So find a good toothpaste for dogs and be sure to make brushing a regular habit. A healthy dog will be your reward and you'll both feel better for it!