There’s nothing quite as cute as your pug’s smile. With their little chicklet teeth all charmingly crooked in their mouths. If you want to keep your pug’s chompers clean and fresh, you need to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth.
I know, I know you’re thinking: What?!? Brush their teeth? I already clean their folds, take them for walks and give them plenty of treats!
Knowing how to brush your dog’s teeth is an important part of their care. Just like humans, dogs need regular teeth brushing to keep them healthy (and keep their pug breath fresh).
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Why You Need to Brush Your Pug’s Teeth
Brachycephalic dogs, have especially small mouths. If you take a look at a pug skull, you can see that with their flat face, there’s not a lot of room for teeth to take root.
The bottom center teeth are often the first to go. When pugs (and other flat-faced dogs) play tug-o-war, or chew on a bone, their bottom teeth can become loose and fall out. With the small lower jaw, there’s just not much tissue there to hold the teeth in place.
Additionally, just like a tween needing braces, a crowded mouth can lead to a lot of problems. Food gets trapped in those back nooks and crannies and it’s tough to remove. When pugs drink, their long tongues often push the water right past those back teeth leaving them susceptible to bacteria and rot.
Lastly, pugs tend to be mouth breathers. Again, because of their flat-face they pant frequently. This dries out their mouth and leaves a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and plaque to form cavities. When you understand how a pug’s mouth works, it’s no wonder they often struggle with some serious dragon-like pug breath!
Tooth decay can lead to a myriad of health problems. In dogs, just like in humans, rotting teeth can lead to heart issues, cardiovascular problems and illness. Not to mention the fact that tooth decay is painful and loose, or rotten teeth make eating a challenge for your pug (yes, even though your pug may seem to have no problem chowing down)!
If you want to protect your pug’s health, the best method is to schedule regular (daily) teeth brushing. If you start young, it becomes a regular part of your pugs routine. If your dog is a bit older, start slow and make it a pleasant experience. Here’s how to brush your dog’s teeth.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Start with a clean slate, if possible. Take your pug to the vet for a full checkup, including their teeth. If your vet suggests a dental cleaning (something pugs should have every few years), it’s important to follow their recommendations.
What Happens During a Dog Dental Cleaning
Typically, during your dog’s dental cleaning, they will put anesthetized. Due to the unique challenges of pug anatomy, this can be a little tough on your dog. Choose a vet that’s familiar with the pug breed. Your vet should do everything to minimize the amount of time your pug is under anesthesia. They should monitor their vitals closely and oxygen intake during the exam.
Most dental exams are very quick. Your pug will likely, only be under for 30 minutes or less. The vet will examine your dog’s teeth closely. He or she will remove any plaque build up from around the teeth. They may also extract any rotten teeth and will check gum health. This may include removing areas where gum tissue has grown over the teeth (a common occurrence in pugs).
Once your pug’s teeth are clean, your vet will likely send you home with a special tooth protectant you can apply regularly to your pugs teeth to prevent further issues. A tooth cleaning will run anywhere from $300 upwards, depending on the extractions required and more. It is well worth the investment to protect the health of your pug.
How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
After having your dog’s teeth cleaned, you can maintain their dental health and prolong the time between cleanings by regularly brushing their teeth. Here is the step by step process to brush your dog’s teeth.
What you will need:
-Dog toothpaste (important: do not use human toothpaste! It can contain Xylitol which is toxic for dogs).
-Training treats, such as Bil-Jacs Small Treats
1. Start Slow
Work up to the full teeth cleaning. If this is a new experience for your pug, they’re likely not going let you jam a toothbrush in their mouth. Simply talk quietly to your pug. Let them sniff the toothbrush and get used to it first. Put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and allow your pug to lick it off. This may be enough teeth brushing for day 1.
2. Swipe and Treat
If your pug allows you to put the toothbrush in their mouth, do a single swipe and then offer them a treat. Although it may seem counterintuitive to give treats for teeth brushing (and at first you’ll be giving many more treats than brushes), the idea is to make it a pleasant experience. You want your pug to make positive associations with putting the toothbrush in their mouth.
3. Work Up to Brushing
Once your pug is familiar with the swipe and treat process, work up to longer periods of brushing. Work side-to-side and in small circles. It may help to hold your pug on your lap, facing away from you and looking in a mirror. Work up to 1-2 minutes of tooth brushing. Note, this may take a month or more of practice, before your pug is comfortable with the process. Always finish with praise and treats.
4. Set a Routine
Brush teeth at a regular time. This may mean after dinner or right before bed. Keep the time consistent and get your pug used to the process. If your pug gets out of the routine, you may have to start from step one again.
5. Always Stay Positive
Never get angry at your pug, hold them down, or force them to brush their teeth. This will make your pug afraid of the toothbrushing process and they will always put up a fuss. If your pug refuses to allow the brush in their mouth, even for a second, allow them to just lick the toothpaste. You can also allow them to chew on their toothbrush, which may help them warm up to the idea that the brush goes in their mouth.
Additional Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
There are other products and ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. None of these products are a substitute for brushing. Just like eating an apple doesn’t mean you don’t need to brush and floss your own teeth regularly, chewing a dental treat doesn’t preclude toothbrushing for your dog.
Still, offering regular, tooth-friendly treats can help keep your pup’s breath fresh and extend the time between dental cleanings. Here are a few to try:
Carrots and Celery
Crunchy veggies are as good for your pugs teeth as they are for yours. Offer up carrots and celery as regular treats. Not only are these items low-calorie and healthy, but they give your pug an opportunity to crunch and clean their chompers.
Crunchy Food and Treats
Crunchy kibble is good for pug’s dental health. Although your pug’s diet shouldn’t consist of only hard kibble, it can offer some crunch to help them work their teeth (and remove plaque in the process). We prefer Fromm’s dog food, but always follow the recommendations of your vet.
There are water additives that you can put in your dog’s water to help keep their teeth healthier. These additives typically contain glycerin and citric acid, along with natural extracts to keep your dog’s teeth and breath fresh.
Greenies Dental Treats
Greenies Dental Chews come in small sizes perfect for pugs. These treats come in a variety of flavors and types (including grain-free for dogs with allergies). The special shape of these treats encourages chewing and helps to really clean the back teeth.
A number of companies make dental wipes or dental cleaning clothes. If your pug is adverse to the toothbrush this is another option you can try. Similar to a finger brush, these wipes are used to clean off your dog’s teeth without needing a brush.
Dental Chews and Toys
There are many options for dental-friendly chews and bones. These aren’t a substitute for teeth brushing, but they can help your dog keep their teeth and gums healthy. Try these brushing sticks, Benebones, or