With national pet day having been yesterday, I thought highlighting one of the often overlooked areas of dog care would be appropriate.
Brushing teeth isn’t just for us humans. Of course it will be hard to convince your dog of this, at least at the beginning, but it can become a fun activity to add into your daily routine. I knew I needed to start brushing our dogs teeth but just hadn’t started. She’s only nine months old so we’ve had a lot of other behaviors to focus on. However, we took her into her yearly vet check and they noticed some plaque build up already! It was the right motivation for me to finally start looking into doggie dental care.
As I started perusing the vast resources of the internet a recurring theme of coconut oil for dogs kept appearing. I think many of us have heard of the magic of coconut oil at this point with its trending use in beauty and skin care plus its cooking uses. For those who aren’t aware or don’t know the reason behind its benefits; to start off with it is an edible oil high in saturated fats and medium chain triglycerides. These properties contribute to the health benefits of increased energy, improved skin, coats, digestion and brain function according to PetMD.
Many sites provide information about feeding it directly to your dog but I haven’t explored that far. I have chosen to use it to brush my dogs teeth with because it is safe, healthy, and she loves it! I looked at the special toothpastes for dogs and was not impressed with the ingredients or packaging. I prefer to DIY to when possible so for her paste I have just been using coconut oil I originally bought for cooking. I’ll admit it’s not organic and although local to my region of the country I will be finding an alternative source, once I make my way through this jar. Another post for another day!
Anyways, I found a double-sided toothbrush by Duke’s Pet Products that came in a two-pack and was very affordable. I’d like to look into a more eco-friendly option since these brushes do have a plastic handle. If you know of any please let me know!! Both sides are soft bristles but one side is bigger and better for back teeth and the other is small and for the front teeth. I had an empty 4 oz mason jar so I put the coconut oil in it and whisked it until it was smooth. I keep the toothbrush on top with a rubber band around it and the jar so they don’t get separated and she knows exactly what time it is when I take it out.
My dog is young so this could be a huge advantage for me. I started off my putting a little coconut oil on my finger for her to try and I also wanted to make sure it wouldn’t cause a reaction. After two days of this morning and night I introduced the toothbrush. It took a few days of two times a day to get her used to the brushing process but she’s adapted really well. I just dip the brush into the coconut oil and start with the back teeth, size dependent on which side it ends up on. She likes to try and chew on the brush so we are flexible with what side we start on and how long it lasts. My suggestion is do this when your dog is already calm as that helps and if they like coconut oil then it makes it that much easier because they will at least want the brush in their mouth. If not there are lots of options out there. Maybe even adding a dog safe essential oil would entice them.
The key to brushing dog’s teeth, I have found, is consistency. She now knows it happens in the morning after breakfast and again in the evening after dinner. It’s become one of my favorite part of the days because she gets excited when I bring out her brush and oil! Teaching new things to dogs can be frustrating so just make it fun and do it as often as you can but don’t stress the small stuff.
Here are some resources for training your dog to let you brush their teeth.
Just remember, you know your dog best and can decide the best way to introduce brushing. Overall though the point is to reduce plaque buildup so that they have healthy chompers throughout their life which also leads to you spending less!