The Furry Critter Network

Tooth Brushing

Does the breath of your dog makes you gag? Given the dog’s inclination to eat feces and rotting carcasses of prey as well as eating spoiled food from the trash it is not surprising for these animals to have killer breath. However, it is also possible that the obnoxious smell emanating from the pet’s mouth is caused by decayed tooth and gum diseases. Just like humans, dogs too can have dental concerns. As the dog ages, teeth and gums become more prone to various teeth and gum diseases. Studies show that 85% of dogs 5 years and over in age are suffering from various dental diseases. These diseases could have been prevented if dog owners have ensured the dental hygiene of the pet. Unfortunately, dental care is often ignored by dog owners.

Regular brushing is necessary to prolong the health of the dog’s teeth. This dental care becomes more important as the dog ages as during this time the teeth is more susceptible to tooth decay and the gums to periodontal diseases. Persistent bad breath, swollen and recessed gums and loose teeth are common in aging dogs. Brushing the dog’s teeth regularly will prevent dental disease-causing tartar and plaque build-up. With regular brushing costly visit to canine dentist will be avoided. But more importantly, keeping the dog’s dental hygiene will also prevent bacterial infections arising from untreated periodontal diseases. Dog owners have to be aware of the fact that these bacterial infections can migrate to the bloodstream affect vital organs like the heart, kidneys, liver and even the brain. So if you have not included tooth brushing in the grooming routine of the pet you need to start now before it becomes too late.

Your dog’s teeth must be cleaned at least twice a week, more often if possible. Introducing tooth brushing to an adult dog would be challenging. The dog will surely struggle especially if it is not accustomed to being touched. Tooth brushing should be introduced while the pet is still a puppy. However, with a lot of patience the dog will eventually accept the feel of the toothbrush on its mouth. The trick is to introduce tooth brushing to the dog slowly. Going straight to the dog with the toothbrush and forcibly opening the mouth would make the pet struggle even more. Brushing the pet’s teeth would be easier if you have the right equipments. A nubby surfaced rubber cap that is fitted on a finger is ideal for dogs that are not used to tooth brushing as the pet would be more tolerant of the “invasion” of the master’s hand. Once the dog is used to being brushed; you can introduce the handled doggie toothbrush. A child’s toothbrush can be used as well. The soft bristles would be kinder to the gums of the dog. This kind would be more ideal in reaching the back teeth of the dog. Human toothpaste must never be used on the pet. Because dogs cannot spit, the toothpaste will be swallowed. Human toothpaste can have ingredients that are harmful to the dog. As mentioned, dogs that are not accustomed to dental cleaning would struggle. You can take advantage of the fact that dogs are food motivated. Place a small amount of chicken or beef flavored toothpaste on the toothbrush and allow the dog to taste. The flavored toothpaste will serve as bait that will make the dog open the mouth willingly. Brush the dog’s teeth just like you would brush your teeth. Don’t forget to clean the dog’s back teeth as these would have more tartar and plaque build-up. Dog owners concerned with the dental health of the dog would not only make sure that tooth brushing is done regularly but would also take the dog to a canine dentist at least once a year.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

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If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)

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Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network

Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.