October 04, 2020 6 min read

Not long ago, owners (and even veterinarians) believed that a dog took care of their own dental needs. It was thought that chewing on bones and crunchy treats did all of the work to keep a dog's teeth clean and free of decay. We now know that this is not true.

Dogs do not often develop cavities as humans do. However, dogs easily develop tooth decay, infections, plaque & tarter buildup...that can quickly destroy a dog's teeth and lead to many health issues. How can you keep your Beagle healthy? Learning how to brush your Beagle teeth is high on the list. 
 Your Beagle needs:
  • Daily bushings at home with a quality paste and a good canine toothbrush
  • A daily dental treat that is effective at removing plaque
  • Professional cleaning with the veterinarian
This is important because:
  • At all times, round the clock, plaque is being produced in a dog's mouth.
  • Within 3 days, it starts to harden into tartar.
  • Plaque and tartar cling to all surfaces of the teeth and it even crawls under the gum line.
  • It erodes enamel and causes decay.
  • Rotted teeth can lead to infections, loose teeth and eventual tooth loss
  • Infections are painful and dangerous.
  • This can all be avoided with a 5-minute at-home routine and, if needed, professional cleanings to check for serious dental issues. 

When to Start Cleaning Your Beagle's Teeth

Dental care should begin the moment you obtain your Beagle. Whether your dog comes to you as an 8 week old puppy or an older adult, brushing your dog's teeth should be high on your list. 
Older, adult dogs may not have had a previous owner who cared for their teeth, therefore the following techniques to train a dog to tolerate these cleanings will be relevant for a Beagle of any age.

Helping a Beagle Get Used to Cleanings

Just like anything new that you are introducing to you dog, you can train your Beagle to become used to having his teeth cleaned. With a quality 3-sided toothbrush and an effective paste that has the proper cleaning properties, just a few minutes per day is needed for good oral hygiene. 
First 2 Weeks
During the first 2 weeks, you will simply want your Beagle to become used to having his teeth touched and his mouth manipulated. This is a very important step. Once you train your dog to sit still and behave while you do this, actually brushing the teeth with paste will be a lot easier. Here are some tips to remember:
  • Do this every day. Dogs that are given training randomly have a difficult time learning something new
  • Choose 1 time of the day in which it will be "Tooth Cleaning Time". Dogs who have a schedule do much better, as well. It does not matter if you choose 8 AM, 12 Noon or 8 PM...however once you choose a time, so stick with it.
During this beginning phase, your goal is to have your Beagle sit nicely while his or her teeth are brushed. Therefore, you will want to:
  • Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
  • Have your Beagle sit
  •  Gently rub your fingers all across your dog's teeth
You will not be using any toothpaste right now. Simply spend 5 to 10 minutes rubbing each tooth (and don't forget those back ones).
While you are doing this, talk to your Beagle soothingly and with a proud tone. When done, be sure to give great praise and a tasty dog treat. While your dog may at first try to run away, patience and consistency will train him or her to sit for you during this time.
Tip: If your Beagle does run, do not "give chase". Your dog will see this as a game...he runs....you run after him... what fun! Just stay calm, slowly walk up to him , pick him up if you must, bring him back to the designated area and begin again. 
You will find that with young puppies, cradling them in your lap may prove work better than asking them to sit for you. Once your Beagle has been trained to stay with you for dental care, you can always move up to having him sit independently.
The Next Month
Once your Beagle has gotten used to having his teeth touched, it is time to take this to step 2. You will want to obtain a dog finger brush or alternatively you may use some damp gauze. A dog finger brush is a small piece of rubber with soft knobs that slips over your finger to clean the dog's teeth. This is recommended as it will allow your Beagle to get prepared for the next step.  
For the first week, just go over each tooth with the dog finger brush and water. Then, as each week progresses, begin to use more and more of a quality canine tooth paste. Note: It is very important to never use human toothpaste. A dog will swallow most of the paste and human toothpaste is can be toxic if too much is swallowed
The 2nd Month
Now that your Beagle has learned that every single day, at a certain time it is "Tooth Brushing Time" , has learned to be accustomed to the feeling & is used to the flavor of the tooth paste, it is time to move to the last step of using a regular canine toothbrush.
A quality brush will remove more plaque than your finger wrapped in gauze or the finger brush. Spend approximately 5 minutes per day brushing all three exposed sides. Using a 3-sided brush can help you do this thoroughly and effectively.  

The Importance of an Effective Dental Chew

Effective dental chews play an important role in helping to keep tooth decay at bay. The only one that we recommend, Greenies, is fantastic; nothing really compares.
It is the #1 veterinary recommended dental chew. It is also approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council and given a Seal of Acceptance for control of plaque and tartar buildup.
  • It works to get rid of both plaque and tartar
  • It promotes healthy gums
  • And it also works to freshen breath, which is a nice bonus
  • Greenies also comes in lots of sizes, so that it works right for your particular Beagle. Teenies are for pups 5 to 15 pounds, Petite is for dogs 15-25 pounds and Regular is for dogs up to 50 pounds.
  • They also have a weight management and a grain-free variety

Dental Care Tips

1) Experiment with different pastes to see which one your Beagle likes best; with the right flavor a dog can actually enjoy having his teeth cleaned.  Many Beagles do best with chicken or vanilla flavor.
2) Keep an eye out for red, swollen gums and take note of any exceedingly strong bad breath. Both are signs of dental issues that should be checked out as soon as possible.
3) Try to plan to brush your Beagle's teeth before a walk or before planned playtime. This way, a fun event is his reward for sitting still and he will be more apt to let you scrub away.

Professional Dental Care

One of the important tasks that a veterinarian will perform during a 'full dental' is a scraping of any tarter on the teeth and also below the gum line. If you chose to scrape your Beagle's teeth at home, this can often allow you to take your dog for dentals every 2 years instead of once per year.
A professional visit should entail all of the following:
  • Oral exam to visually look for any issues
  • Blood testing to check for overall health issues
  • X-rays to identify any issues
  • Scraping below the gums; this is important to prevent periodontal disease
  • Polishing - This helps to keep dental disease away since smoothed teeth will discourage bacteria and plaque buildup
Do be aware that during a "Full Dental", most dogs are given light sedation. 

Misaligned Teeth

It is not uncommon for an adult tooth to begin growing in while a puppy tooth is still in place. In this event, it is important for the veterinarian to remove the puppy tooth.
Doing so, will allow the adult tooth to move into proper place. Leaving "two rows of teeth" even if in just 1 spot can play havoc in your dog's mouth. The adult tooth will grow in crooked and the dog's bite can become misaligned. This can cause eating problems and quite a bit of discomfort. 
Since teeth drop quickly, as soon as this is noticed you will want to have that puppy tooth removed.
Jan Helge Mathisen
Jan Helge Mathisen

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