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Essential Dog Grooming – the Basics

If you’re not familiar with the things you need to do as part of your regular dog care routine, read on.

Things to look out for on my daily check...

And the Worlds' Most Beautiful Dog Winner is - meeeeeeeee! Again? Shucks.

Routine daily check

This is arguably the corner stone of every pet grooming routine – for any type of pet. For dogs, stroke them daily and while you’re at it, use your hands to check all parts of his or her body. This is important so you can notice any changes you might want to see the vet about, such as lumps, or skin irritation. You can also discover areas that the dog clearly finds painful to have touched that you might not notice just by looking.

Keeping your dogs teeth clean

Although many people think of brushing and bathing when it comes to grooming, one essential task is teeth cleaning. Dog’s teeth are fairly prone to periodontal disease and gum disease – an estimated 85% of dogs over 5 years old develop dental disease. All of which is preventable by simply brushing your dogs teeth regularly.

Why is it so important?

As the years go by, food particles accumulate around the gum line, attracting bacteria. This mix forms into harder deposits called plaque, which in turn develops into a much harder type of deposit (tartar). Tartar in time leads to inflammation of the gums, which gradually migrate away from the teeth. The migration leads to spaces for even more bacteria to flourish in – which in turn makes dental diseases worse.

The result can be acute toothache, abscesses, tooth loss and worse still, bacterial infections that can spread throughout the body to vital organs. Once underway, periodontal diseases are sadly unstoppable. Including dental health in your grooming routine is therefore  vital for prevention – and its never too late to start.

How to brush your dog’s teeth

The ASPCA (1) suggests cleaning dogs teeth daily, but acknowledge this isn’t always possible and give several cleanings per week as an alternative goal if you can’t manage it daily. Even so, smaller dogs, particularly those breeds with wider, flat snouts (think of pugs as an example) might need more frequent brushing. This is due to them having more ‘tooth-dense’ dental cavities – the teeth are simply more crowded in their little mouths.

Do I need a special toothbrush & toothpaste?

Dogs like me have more teeth in a smaller space. So we're more handsome, right?

Dogs like me have more teeth in a smaller space. So we're more handsome, right? You wanna ride someplace? Huh? Huh?

Yes -you can now easily buy a special pet toothbrush and meaty-flavoured pet toothpaste. You cannot get away with using human toothbrushes or toothpaste for dogs – the designs are totally unsuitable comfort-wise and they simply won’t do the job properly anyway to remove plaque. Plus, you may end up with a dog with an upset stomach due to swallowing a lot of human toothpaste during cleaning – they tend to swallow a fair bit of paste. These days you can buy special rubber dog toothbrushes, some have designs you can slide onto your fingers (think giant rubber thimble-style). If that doesn’t work, a piece of clean gauze around your fingers will do – but be careful in case your fingers are injured whilst cleaning the teeth, as not all dogs readily take to it at first. Dog toothpaste comes in many different flavours; it might be a case of trying a few to see which one your pooch takes to.

dog's mouth by mmagallan

Teeth cleaning time. Best attempted with tasy toothpaste...

Start by doing the cleaning in small steps – you’re aiming to make it an everyday, ok experience for your dog, so don’t be overly concerned with scrubbing every last crevice when you first start, it could simply frighten your dog instead. You could try by smearing something delicious for him onto the toothbrush or your finger moving it gently over his teeth and gums. Dog treats after brushing are good, to associate teeth cleaning as a fun activity, rather than stressful time of it. Graduate onto using your dog toothbrush/gauze and paste, using very gentle movements – never force, or punish your dog if he doesn’t like it. Persistence wins the day and when you think of the health benefits, it’s worth spending the time.

Example of dog toothbrush

Example of dog toothbrush

IMPORTANT: This article is written for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional vetinary advice on any animals’ health or living needs – if you have any concerns about these, please consult a qualified vet. Thank you.

Posted by Norma De Bloom – comments welcome 🙂

Useful Resources:

ASPCA. Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth [online]

http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/48/Brushing-Your-Dogs-Teeth-.aspx

Photo Credits –

Boxer dog http://www.sxc.hu/profile/clix Bulldog type dog http://www.sxc.hu/profile/oOlemon

Dog’s mouth http://www.sxc.hu/profile/oOlemon

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