This article is shared with permission from our friends at Rover.

We know how important dental care is for us humans, and how painful it can be when dental problems arise. That’s part of why it’s important that we take care of our pets’ teeth, too. But did you know that canine periodontal disease can shorten your dog’s lifespan? It’s shocking, but sadly true.

Dental care is so important for our dogs. Dental disease can make chewing painful, and cause bad breath and eventually tooth loss. But that’s not the worst of it, as dental bacteria can cause heart, liver, and kidney problems. It’s estimated that 80% of dogs will have some type of dental issue by the time they are three years old—but we can change that by doing simple things like providing dental chews, and daily brushing.

Just by keeping our pets’ teeth clean we can prolong their life.

Dental cleaning is something our dogs may not jump for joy over, but we can turn a chore into a treat by breaking the task up into small steps and rewarding good behavior along the way. These three, readily available products will help get you there.

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Dental Wipes

Dental wipes are an awesome life hack for dogs that aren’t quite ready for full-on brushing. They require the least training or equipment, and are a cinch to use. Simply wrap one around your finger and swab your dog’s teeth and gums, focusing mainly on the outside of the upper teeth. A quick wipe of the teeth and gums eliminates plaque and freshens breath in one fell swoop.

Dental Chews

Doggy dental chews between cleanings help keep breath fresh and teeth clean, too.  I recommend  ARK Naturals Chewable brushless toothpaste.

Enzymatic Toothpaste

Here’s your daily driver. The kit below includes both a finger brush and a handled brush. Both work great, so use what works best for you and your dog.

Nicole’s Guide to Brushing for Dogs

  • First, get your dog used to you looking at his or her teeth
    With your dog facing you or in your lap, depending on what size pup you have, gently lift their lips to reveal their teeth. Reward with a treat. Super simple and enjoyable for the dog. Practice this for a few days until your dog is comfortable with the handling.
  • Next, gain their trust with you inserting your fingers into the mouth
    Once you lift your dog’s lip, gently rub the gums and teeth with a finger—then reward again. This is a new experience for our dogs and by keeping it short and positive, it will become easier to routinely care for their teeth.
  • Now, add some toothpaste
    Put some doggy toothpaste on your finger and let the dog lick it off. Easy-peasy. Keep the rewards coming.
  • Reintroduce rubbing the gums and teeth
    Using your finger, rub the toothpaste into the gums and teeth, rewarding after each fingerful.
  • Enter the toothbrush
    Apply some toothpaste to the toothbrush and let your dog lick it off. Reward. Don’t let your dog run off with the toothbrush!
  • Bring on the toothbrush and toothpaste
    Now you should have all the steps in place for success. Don’t try to brush the whole mouth in one go. Do one section, reward and let your dog loose. Build up to the full set of choppers. Good work!

If your dog is showing signs of being stressed, aggressive, or frightened, go back a step and move slowly. We want to keep it positive and enjoyable for them.

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Health Expert
Founded in 2011 and based in Seattle, WA, Rover is the nation's largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.