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Do you really need to brush your dog’s teeth? A vet weighs in

For many of us, our dogs are more than just pets. They’re members of the family, our best friends and, ultimately, extensions of ourselves. Thus, it’s no surprise that the value of the global pet industry is estimated to be $500 billion by 2030.

According to TikToker dog trainer Maddie (@myboyrudder), however, there’s one doggy health care product we can all start saving money on: toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Maddie, according to her bio, uses her account to share “practical advice for dog owners.” With the help of her dog Rudder, she provides training tips, tests out pet products and shares inspiration for enrichment and meals.

In a video uploaded on October 18, Maddie took to the app to assert that you don’t need to brush your dog’s teeth or use toothpaste. Instead, all you need is a little bit of gauze.

Do veterinary dentists agree? In The Know by Yahoo spoke to veterinarian Grant Little from JustAnswer to find out.

“It’s kind of gimmicky”

In the video — which has since garnered over 900,000 views and 54,000 likes — Maddie states that, according to a veterinary dentist she spoke to, dog toothbrushes and toothpaste aren’t necessary. “I guess it’s kind of gimmicky,” she says.

Instead, she asserts that all you need is a bit of gauze and your finger.

By simply wrapping the gauze around your finger (either wet or dry) and gently rubbing your dog’s teeth, Maddie asserts that is enough to remove the biofilm from their teeth, which she states is what leads to plaque and tartar buildup.

To get a second opinion on this now viral hack, In The Know by Yahoo spoke to veterinarian Grant Little from JustAnswer.

Is gauze enough to clean dogs’ teeth?

“Yes — for early dental tartar or preventative measures,” explains Little. “Dogs don’t get the same type of plaque buildup between the teeth as much as we do (due to the spacing of the teeth), and so gauze is sufficient to clean around the teeth and at the gumline.”

Little continues, “The mechanical motion of rubbing the teeth with brushes, bristles, or gauze will help prevent long term tartar buildup on dogs’ teeth as well as remove underlying tartar in the gingiva that can lead to gingivitis.”

Regarding the necessity of dog toothpaste, Little says that products like OraVet plaque prevention gel can be used instead of toothpaste.

Which method or product is best for brushing dogs’ teeth?

With so many different dog hygiene methods and products floating around, which is the most effective? According to Little, it’s the method that you’re most likely to stay consistent with — and adopt early on.

“I [suggest] using the method that is easiest, safest, and the one an owner will actually do. The biggest problem we face in dentistry is that pet owners just don’t do the preventative measures,” Little says.

According to Little, when preventative measures aren’t taken, plaque starts to build up to the point that brushing is no longer beneficial, which then requires dental procedures to remove that plaque and calculus.

“My tips would be to pick the method you will do that’s easy and seems effective and prevents plaque,” said Little. “This includes brushes, bristles, gauze, toothpaste, preventative gels and water additives, and also cleaning water dishes and food bowls regularly to remove bacteria.”

Little also recommends dental chews such as greenies, C.E.T. chews or similar products to remove the plaque.

Other tips for brushing dogs’ teeth:

According to Little, there are several steps dog owners can take to make brushing easier long term:

  1. Start young. Take action when they are still puppies. Gently massage the gum tissue and lips to get them used to your hand being around their mouth. Give them lots of treats during this time and proceed slowly.

  2. Don’t force the brushes or gauze. If they are reactive and fighting you the whole time, you’ll only make them dislike it more. Provide lots of peanut butter and other treats to get them used to it. You want to make it as enjoyable as possible.

  3. Be careful with brushes. You want to avoid poking around aggressively with the brush. If you’re uncomfortable using one or if your dog likes to jump a lot, I recommend a finger brush instead or the gauze that way they can’t damage the back of the mouth when they inevitably jump up into it.

  4. Be consistent. Once daily is always a great goal to aim for, but if you have to make do with a couple of times a week, that’s better than nothing. Regular cleaning will provide long-term benefits.

  5. Talk to your vet about dental procedures. If you have an older dog who already has a lot of tartar buildup, discuss if a dental procedure is the best option for your pet. If your dog has dental disease, the mouth will be painful and they will try to resist any preventative brushing.

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The post Do you really need to brush your dog’s teeth? A vet weighs in appeared first on In The Know.

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