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Why you need to brush your puppy's teeth (and how to do it)

Why you need to brush your puppy's teeth (and how to do it)
This article contains: infections plaque teeth tooth-brushing

Q: We've been advised to clean our puppy's teeth. Is it really necessary? How can we train him to tolerate it?

A: Yes - not only will it reinforce his position within the family pack (at the bottom!) but it will also improve his overall health. Allowing plaque to accumulate can lead to tooth and more general infections. But it is easy to prevent by brushing after every meal, and now is the time to train your puppy. At first it will seem like a game to him, but with time and patience it will become part of the daily routine. Build up exposure gradually, letting him lick the toothpaste off your finger first - it's pleasantly flavoured so should be like a treat. Best of luck - it really is worth the effort now for long-term gain.

Alison Logan, Vet

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Hannah Wilson
I have had dogs all my life whether rehomed or from a puppy, and so have my friends, but i have never heard of brushing their teeth.....I now have a 5month old golden lab reading your post has not really given me just cause to do so, as there are treats out there for gums and teeth cleaning etc, they would not have naturally have done this (Yes we feed them different foods) is there any evidence to say we need to?
Hi Hannah, We asked Brian Faulkner, Petplan’s Vet of the Year to look into your query and he came back to us with the following advice: All animals get an invisible film of bacteria called plaque on their teeth. When this calcifies it turns into a crusty brown substance called tartar. There are 2 main problems with this process. Firstly the tartar causes gum recession, exposing the roots, eventually causing pain and loss of the teeth. 85% of pets over 3 years have at least some form of this disease! More seriously though, as the gums get inflamed due to the build up of plaque and tartar, the bacteria enter the blood stream and circulate into the body and "seed out" in the major organs, especially the kidneys. This can accelerate organ degeneration which shortens life. It is generally undisputed that brushing is the best way to decrease the bacterial load in turn decreasing gum disease and bacterial spread in the blood. Dog chews are often marketed as "reducing plaque and tartar by up to 33%". But this leaves the question of what happens to the remaining 67%? The long and the short of it is, brushing is a very cheap way of making a significant difference over the course of your pet's life, although most of us would agree that all pets enjoy having it done! Doing it for even 15-30 seconds a day, every day makes a significant difference! Ask your vet to show you how much plaque there is on your pup's teeth next time you are in. Brian Faulkner, Petplan Vet of the Year 2010
Border Collies
Cool post, I really loved your blog :)

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