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Ask the Dog Trainer: Proper oral care can add years to your dog's life – TCPalm

VERO BEACH — Keeping your dog healthy and happy requires a certain amount of regular care. Annual veterinarian visits and grooming are all a part of having a pet. Just as dogs need brushing and ear cleaning, oral care is important too.

I have to confess, I do not brush my dogs' teeth. There is no good reason, I just have not made it part of my pet care routine. I do look in my dogs' mouths and check the appearance of their teeth and gums. I monitor their breath. They get annual veterinary exams that include an oral exam. I do think brushing their teeth has value.

I do provide big crunchy chews and bones to help keep their teeth clean naturally. It seems to work as my dogs don't have many dental problems. It is suggested your dog should spent 30 minutes chewing daily for maximum teeth cleaning benefits. Treats with the Veterinary Oral Heath Council's seal of approval indicates a chew has some dental benefit. There is a huge variety of dental bones on the market to help keep your pet's breath fresh and clean. Experiment around to find a chew your dog likes and lasts long enough to be helpful.

Examine your dog's mouth regularly. Gently peel his lips back and become familiar with the appearance of his teeth. Look at the gums too. Upper and lower and below the lips. Look for swellings, discoloration and broken teeth. You can open his mouth and look on the interior of his mouth too.

If your dog resists an exam, teach him to like it. Involve some food rewards or even that tasty dental chew you are going to give him. Have a peek in his mouth before you deliver the chew. Be slow and gentle, most dogs don't mind a quiet touch.

If you do want to brush your dog's teeth, use toothpaste designed for canines. It comes in several delightful flavors like poultry and beef. Use a dog-friendly toothbrush too. Here is a link to a video by veterinarian Susan Baker explaining how to teach your dog to enjoy having his teeth brushed-

You might be surprised at how much good oral care can improve your pet's health. Your dog swallows all the bacteria trapped in his mouth. Having regular dental care can add years to their life and a bounce to their step!

Cissy Sumner of Best Behavior Dog Training is Vero’s first Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge and Skills Assessed and Certified Behavior Counselor Canine-Knowledge Assessed as well as a Consulting Trainer and Behavior Counselor for the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County. If you have a training or behavior question, email Cissy at or visit for additional information.

This story is contributed by a member of the Treasure Coast community and is neither endorsed nor affiliated with


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