OK, I'll admit, I can think of a few thousand things I'd rather be doing than brushing my dog's canines on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
After all, it's not really any dog's favorite pastime, either - and there is something disturbing about seeing an annoyed dog foaming at the mouth (even if it's just doggie toothpaste).
Ugh, can you imagine if it wasn't dog toothpaste?!
Still, it has to be done. Your four-legged friend needs his teeth so he can eat, and to protect and express himself, so it's important to keep the teeth he's got in good shape.
Plus, though its not something we think about, our dogs can also get the same sort of teething problems that we humans do - gingivitis, gum disease and so on. Any of these teeth problems can also invariably lead to other complications that could seriously put your dog in serious health risk.
As another side note - a cracked tooth could also cause your dog to turn aggressive and violent, as he would be enraged about the constant pain he's in,
In short, dogs require dog dentists too!
If you've never brushed your canine's canines before, here are some tips that'll make the whole process a lot easier:
1. Get your dog used to the idea. Before stuffing a toothbrush in his mouth, gently use your finger to massage your dog's lips in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day. Gradually move your fingers into his mouth until you can massage his gums and teeth. (If your dog's anything like Arty, this could take weeks, so be patient.)
2. Introduce a toothbrush. A soft child's toothbrush, a dog's toothbrush or even a washcloth or piece of gauze will work. Use ONLY toothpaste specifically made for dogs. Also, never use human toothpaste - it will upset your dog's stomach if he swallows it.
3. Try brushing just a few teeth at first. Over time, move up to the entire mouth. Focus brushing on the outer tooth surfaces, since that's where most of the tartar buildup will be.
4. It's best to brush daily if possible. But even if you only do it once or twice a week, you'll still be ahead of the game.
If you can't (or won't) brush your pooch's teeth, at least give him lots of specially formulated dental treats, enzyme-enhanced chews or dental toys to help keep tartar and gingivitis away. You can also take him to the vet periodically for full cleanings.
There are also dog teeth cleaning kits around, but my suggestion is to NOT use them if you've never had training using those - you could actually hurt your dog's canines if you're not careful! Plus, you'll be on the receiving end of a stink eye from your dog.
Just remember that your dog's dental health is equally important to his overall general health - dog dental issues can often lead to other problems with your dog as well. Just think how you would take care of a toddler (granted, fuzzier and 4 legged instead of 2) and you'll at least have a rough idea of how to care for a dog in general.