How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean and Avoid Expensive Dental Procedures

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According to every dog food commercial, people want what’s best for their pets—after all, they’re a part of the family. This includes making sure they get the medical care they need. But what about their teeth?

If taking care of a dog is new to you, it may have come as a surprise when the vet first walked you through what’s involved in your new friend’s dental care. With routine dental cleanings ranging from $450 to $1,000, and additional procedures (like extractions) costing even more—and the fact that the dog is under anesthesia during the appointment—you’re going to want to be sure to keep their chompers as clean and healthy as possible.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year, as well as keeping their smile healthy at home. Here’s how to do that.

Brush their teeth

Just like us, dogs experience plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth. “Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian,” according to the AVMA.

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And here’s a video showing you how to do it:

Ideally, a dog’s teeth should be brushed daily, but if that’s not happening, a few times a week should suffice, the AVMA says.

Give them something to chew on

There are all sorts of treats, toys, chews, and sticks out there that claim to help clean your dog’s teeth, but the AVMA says that they’re not all equally effective. You can ask your vet for recommendations, or check the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)’s website for their latest list of approved dental products for dogs, which the organization tests and verifies based on their ability to prevent plaque and tartar accumulation.

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