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How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dog Breath is gross.

I know.. Shocker.

However, you may be surprised to know that bad breath could be a sign of a more significant dental problem.

It’s important to regularly clean your dog’s teeth and to periodically visit the vet in order to maintain your dog’s oral health.

Brushing your dog’s teeth is about more than just fresh breath (although that’s nice); gum disease is an increasingly common condition in dogs that is easily preventable with regular brushing.

DENTAL DECAY

Clean Dog Teeth Preventing dental decay in your dog’s mouth is key to the long-term health of your dog or puppy.

Tooth decay causes a build-up of plaque that can cause bad breath, and ultimately can lead to liver and kidney problems for your dog.

If you’re feeding your dog wet food, make sure to include dry kibble in his diet as well. Kibble is hard and will help get plaque out of his teeth.

Chew toys also help to remove plaque. Nylabone® and Kong® make great, durable toys.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BRUSH MY DOG’S TEETH?

Ideally, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth daily.

If this seems too ambitious for you, a lot of vets recommend brushing 3-5 times per week.

If you haven’t been brushing your dog’s teeth at all, any brushing will be beneficial but you should try to make it a regular activity.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Before we can get started, you’ll need a few tools.

You can decide between using a toothbrush specially designed for dogs, a small finger brush, or any other specialized tool.

I find the finger brush to be the easiest to maneuver. They’re designed to wrap around your finger and make it easier to reach some of the tougher spots in a dog’s mouth.

You’re free to pick the product that you feel most comfortable using.

You will also need specialized toothpaste that is formulated for dogs. Avoid using toothpaste for humans as dogs are likely to swallow the product which may result in gastrointestinal problems.

You can purchase all of these from your vet or your local pet store.

Now, let’s get on to the steps.

HOW TO BRUSH DOG TEETH

Your dog will likely be uncomfortable initially with having his teeth cleaned, so take your time.

Also, incorporate positive reinforcement into this process by rewarding your dog with treats after brushing. It will help to make it a more pleasant event for him going forward.

STEPS TO SUCCESS

STEP 1: Introduce your dog to the brush and toothpaste
Let him investigate the brush with paste on it for a bit. It often helps to encourage your pup to lick the product – it’s designed to be quite tasty for dogs.

STEP 2: Position yourself properly
If your dog is small enough, you can place him in your lap with his face pointed away from you. If you have a larger dog, try sitting in a chair with your dog sitting upright beside you.

STEP 3: Position the brush
The bristles should be at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and pointing toward the gum line. This helps to clean where the gum and tooth meet (where gingivitis develops).

STEP 4: Start Brushing
You should brush in an oval motion like you would with your own teeth. This will properly remove bacteria and other substances that cause plaque and tartar build-up.

STEP 5: Brush all sections of the mouth
This includes the upper and lower front teeth, as well as the molars at the back.

STEP 6: Pay particular attention to problem areas
You might notice some spots are worse than others. It’s important to also pay close attention to the upper canines (fangs).

STEP 7: Examine the dog’s mouth
Look for unusual swelling, chipped or broken teeth, or bleeding gums. If you notice any of these, it would be best to visit the vet to diagnose or rule out any dental problems

STEP 8: Be Patient
It likely won’t happen right away, but eventually your puppy will get accustomed to the routine. Remember to associate with the event positively. Reward your dog after good behavior while cleaning his teeth.

WHAT IF YOUR DOG STILL WON’T LET YOU BRUSH HIS TEETH?

If your dog gives you a really hard time with brushing his teeth, there are other things that you can try.

There are certain types of mouthwash that you can add to their water that help to get rid of bacteria.

There are also dental sprays that you can spray on their favorite chew toys. These sprays are good at getting rid of plaque and tartar in the mouth.

It’s also worthwhile to get your dog’s teeth cleaned by your vet. He will likely be put under anesthesia while your vet does a thorough cleaning of his mouth.

WRAP-UP

Cleaning your dog’s teeth should start at an early age.

Getting your puppy used to mouth cleaning is important for his long-term health.

Try to incorporate this into your weekly routine to ensure your dog’s breath smells (reasonably) good and his health doesn’t suffer.

It’s worth it to be consistent and patient – it will pay off in the long run.

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How Much to Feed A Puppy

How much should I feed my puppy? How often?

While a puppy’s nutritional needs differ from that of an adult dog, the size per serving and the number of meals per day differs too. It’s common for new owners to mistake the care and needs of a puppy with a grown dog.

You should be consistent with the number of meals you feed your puppy per day. While adult dogs can have just 2 meals per day, a young puppy should be given 3-4 meals at regular times.

It’s important to put their food out only for mealtime, and to take it away after they’re finished eating. The goal is to get your puppy on a scheduled eating cycle to help predict potty time.

Puppies should stay with their mothers for the first eight weeks of their life to ensure that they’re getting the right nutrition. Once a puppy is weaned, the dog owner is responsible for the puppy’s health.

What Kind of Food Should My Puppy Eat?

Choose the brand of food that the puppy was eating before you brought him home. Changing brands can sometimes cause digestive problems.

Puppies have fragile digestive systems. Therefore, the transition from old to new food should be slow and gradual. Mix the new food with the old food in small amounts, increasing the amounts every day. Continue this until your puppy’s diet only contains the new food.

Most veterinarians advise dog owners to feed puppies dry kibble. Some dog food brands offer formulas specially created for puppies.

It’s up to you decide when you switch from junior to adult food. It’s not always straightforward because of the varying size of certain dogs and also the difference in growth rate. Depending on the particular breed, around 8-9 months is a common time to start introducing adult food (probably not any earlier). At that age, his growth rate will be reduced and he’ll require a lower level of calories and protein.

Make sure your puppy always has access to a bowl of fresh clean water. It’s important for them to have water to help them digest their food. Change the water regularly as puppies tend to play with it, which makes it dirty.

How Much Should I Give Them?

There’s no exact science to the amount of food you should give your dog, but you can get a sense of how much they need by watching their body language as they eat their meal. Are they devouring their dish or are they just picking at it? Taking note of how they react while eating is usually a good indicator.

Unfortunately, many pet food manufacturers often mark their products with a generalized feeding guide. This can be a touch misleading as different dog breeds require different feeding regimens throughout their lives. It’s up to you and your vet to maintain and regulate a healthy diet for your puppy.

Some people believe that you shouldn’t feed large breeds quantities which encourage maximum growth as they can develop orthopaedic problems from overeating later in life. Consult your vet if you’re concerned about your large breed puppy’s weight.

For more information on this issue, there’s a great article that details it by Healthy Pets.

Say no to snacking

Avoid giving your puppy snacks in between meals. This will upset his diet and lead to excessive weight gain. It will encourage your puppy to develop bad habits such as begging for food between meals.

When you use treats to train your puppy, make sure they are very small and won’t aggregate into a significant meal.

The transition from puppy to adulthood

As stated earlier, feeding a dog is different from feeding a puppy.

The transition period from new food to old food should be a gradual process that takes place over a few days.

On the first day, start by mixing your puppy’s regular food with 25% new food. Every alternate day, increase the percentage of new food by 25%. This slow transition will help promote a healthy digestive system during the diet change.

For more info, check out this article by IAMS™.

Additional Tips

Look at your dog from the top down. You should be able to see a clearly defined waist and be able to feel your dog’s ribs without too much fat covering them. Depending on how active your dog is, you should ensure that you are feeding them with these criteria in mind.

It’s important for your puppy to acquire good eating habits at a young age. Make a separate place in your house only for your puppy’s meals. Always place his food and water in the same location.

Remember to always be consistent with mealtime!

 

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How to Stop a Dog from Digging

How to Stop a Dog from Digging

 

My dog is destroying my yard! How do I stop him from digging?

Dogs will do anything to amuse themselves when they’re left alone. It makes sense that a dog would resort to digging as it’s in their instinctive nature to do so.

You might not notice your dog digging at first, so make sure to regularly survey your yard if you tend to leave him outside often. If you start to notice holes, consider spending more time outside with your dog. Boredom is part of the reason why dogs dig.

If you’re able to catch them in the act, tell them “NO” and immediately remove them from the area.

It’s important to nip this dog digging issue in the bud early. It’s possible that your dog is simply doing this for attention without regard for destroying your yard – they don’t know any better.

Expending Energy

If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, he’ll find other ways to burn off his excess energy (such as digging in the yard). In these instances, consider taking him on walks more often and giving him more opportunities to be active. Spending some time on long walks is a great way to tire your pup out and stop dog digging.

You should also try to make more of an effort to play with him during the day. There are so many benefits to spending time playing with your dog, but it does wonders to help cut away at their seemingly infinite energy levels.

Dogs often dig because they’re bored – it’s just something to do. Try giving them a chew toy to play with and stay occupied.

Hunting Small Animals

Your dog might be digging holes to hunt small animals (moles, groundhogs, etc.) that he sees roaming around his territory.

Check for trends as to where the holes tend to be located. Are they close to the roots of plants? Are they in particular areas (not at the outer boundaries of your yards)? Any of these could mean that he’s looking for some animal friends.

The best way to fix this is to get some expert help to rid your yard of these pests. Be mindful of your dog’s health if you decide to use harmful/poisonous products.

Seeking Comfort

Sometimes dogs dig because they’re looking to create a more comfortable space to rest. If you live in a hot climate and your dog spends a lot of time outside, his instincts may prompt him to dig and try to find a cooler spot to rest.

This is often evident if your dog digs in a spot and then sits/lies down in it. Pay attention to the temperature outside and bring your dog into an air-conditioned space to help him cool down if he needs.

Looking for Attention

If your dog digs in front of you, he may be looking for attention. Are you not paying enough attention to your dog?

Dogs require social interaction with their owners to ensure their health and happiness – please don’t neglect this.

Don’t Punish Them

It’s natural to be angry seeing damage around your home, but it’s important to refrain from punishment when your dog digs. It’s not going to bring the result that you expect.

Digging can be a result of anxiety and fear in your dog, and punishment can make that even worse.

It’s best to look for the root of the issue and to solve it from there (without punishment).