Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Answering some of your questions about your dog's teeth, and how to keep them healthy!
How many teeth does a dog have?
Puppies have 28 needle sharp teeth, and adult dogs have 42.
Will my puppy lose his teeth?
Yes he will, and be careful because stepping on them is extremely painful! Most of the time your puppy will swallow them but they do occasionally end up lodged in the carpet, ready for your unsuspecting barefoot. Puppies will start to lose their teeth around 4-5 months old, and this is usually preceded by an intense period of chewing during this teething time. Look out for a future blog post on this!
Why is it so important to take care of my dogs teeth?
It is very important to take care of your dog's teeth for a number of reasons. You want to be reduce the amount of plaque and tartar build up, keep their breath fresher, and ensure that they do not develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (gum disease) in dogs can lead to a host of other problems including kidney failure so it is imperative to keep an eye on your dog's mouth and teeth health. It is estimated that more than 3/4 of dogs over the age of 3 have some form of gum disease!
Do I brush my dogs teeth with the same toothpaste I use?
NO! Human toothpaste is harmful to dogs so definitely do not use the same toothpaste as you use to brush his teeth. There are plenty of different types of specially formulated dog toothpastes that you can buy at pet stores or online. Most of these are poultry or peanut butter flavor which is pretty irresistible to your dog!
Also, most doggy toothpastes are enzymatic (check the packaging) which means that the toothpaste has been specifically formulated with plaque and tartar fighting enzymes. As long as the toothpaste gets into their mouth, it will do a its job of breaking down plaque. However actively brushing their teeth is still very important.
How old should my dog be before I start brushing his teeth?
Start right away (8 weeks+ if you have just gotten them) to get them used to it!
First, just put a small amount of dog toothpaste, which they usually love the taste of, onto a toothbrush and let them lick it off themselves. Next time, let them feel the bristles of the toothbrush in their mouth. Keep taking small steps until you can get all the way up to brushing the back teeth. It is usually never pretty and their tongues are going a mile a minute!
How often should I brush my dogs teeth?
Once a day is just fine, or once every other day is also okay if combining with other teeth cleaning methods.
What other things keep my dogs teeth clean?
There are numerous things you can do to help keep your dogs teeth clean.
1) Raw Bones - these are absolutely fantastic to give to adult dogs to help keep their teeth healthy and flossed. Gnawing on these tough bones scrapes off tartar and plaque as well as containing enzymes that fight bacteria in the mouth. These are best when given frozen, directly from the freezer!
2) Add a plaque fighting solution or powder into their water or food- it is apparently tasteless but we have seen dogs turn their noses up at this!
3) Dental chews for dogs- these are an alternative to giving them raw bones. They do a great job of scraping plaque away as they are usually very tough to gnaw. Typically made from a potato starch, they aren't full of enzymes like raw bones are.