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Yorkies are cute small dogs with a feisty and energetic personality. Brushing their teeth can be a battle of wills between dog and owner.
Keep reading to find out how to brush a Yorkie’s teeth.
First up: How often should you brush your Yorkie’s teeth?
Brushing your Yorkie’s teeth daily is highly recommended because they tend to have overcrowded teeth.
Even one day of overlooking brushing can result in food buildup that can result in dental disease down the line. But if you can’t manage a daily schedule of brushing your Yorkie’s teeth three times a week will work in addition to giving them dental chews that will maintain their dental hygiene.
The dental chews can also be given to a dog that gets its teeth brushed daily.
Is it common for Yorkies to have bad teeth?
Unfortunately, yes, it is. The Yorkshire terrier breed has a tiny jaw and 42 permanent teeth to fit into the small space. That results in the teeth growing at odd angles making it a challenge to clean and maintain optimal dental hygiene. Yorkies are a moderate brachycephalic breed.
Brachycephalic means shorter headed so this breed has a moderately short head resulting in small jaws. Severe brachycephalic breeds include pugs and bulldogs.
Why is Yorkie Dental Care so Important?
Yorkies are prone to dental conditions from a young age. Without consistent and targeted dental care, they can suffer from dental diseases for the better part of their lifetimes. They are susceptible to plaque buildup and bacteria which enter their bloodstream and cause problems with their heart health. A large percentage of canines presenting with dental disease also concurrently suffer from heart diseases like endocarditis. Endocarditis is a heart valve infection in dogs.
Also, plaque incites inflammation in the dog’s body starting with issues like gingivitis. The dog’s inflammatory response may kill the bacteria from the mouth but it also destroys the dog’s tissue cells in the process.
Poor dental care in Yorkies also makes them susceptible to tooth loss which impacts their ability to eat food.
But perhaps the most insidious results of poor dental health in Yorkies results in undetectable pain. You may notice serious symptoms like excessive drooling and bleeding from the gums when your pet has been living in pain for quite some time. Unfortunately, dental disease is a hidden disease and some of these symptoms may not even show. And your dog can’t speak up about its discomfort.
4 Tips for Brushing Yorkies’ Teeth
Because of the placement of Yorkie teeth, a moist brush is more comfortable on the gums compared to a stiff, dry brush. You want to reach the grooves and nooks in the teeth and mouth. Softened bristles do a better job of that than stiff, unyielding bristles.
Even fighters like yorkies can get their teeth brushed with the right toothbrush.
No, your old toothbrush will not do. Take a look at dog toothbrushes. They have long, curved handles and a shorter head allowing them more reach and penetration into the rim of the dog’s gums. Also, human toothbrushes are coarse and will cause the dog discomfort when brushing.
Toothpaste meant for human beings contains ingredients like Xylitol which is toxic to dogs. It causes hypoglycemia in dogs (a drop in their blood sugar levels) resulting in liver failure, seizures, and even death in some cases.
Dog toothpaste comes in flavors that the dog identifies with like meat and poultry flavors. Also, enzymatic dog toothpaste contains enzymes that kill bacteria while acting on existing plaque and preventing the accumulation of tartar. The right equipment will make the process much easier for you and your dog.
Dog teeth cleaning wipes can also be used to clean your Yorkie’s teeth. They are soft and easy to use especially when cleaning the teeth of puppies.
The sensation of brushing teeth is foreign to a dog. So you need to get your Yorkie comfortable with the presence of a foreign object in their mouth before you begin the actual brushing. Insert your finger gently into their mouth beginning with touching the side of the mouth gently with your fingertips until the dog is comfortable with your fingers. Next, put a finger or two inside the mouth and run gently along the teeth while talking softly to the dog.
This conditioning process is essential to getting the dog used to teeth brushing which will be a regular feature in their day.
Once the dog is comfortable with your finger in its mouth, gently open its jaws. There will be some resistance but fight the temptation to force your dog. Instead, hold the muzzle and head gently but steady all the while talking until your Yorkie calms down and resume running your finger on their teeth. Repeat this process over several days and start mimicking the brushing motion with your fingers until your dog is comfortable opening its jaws and having your finger in the mouth.
It is best to start with a finger brush instead of a regular brush so that your dog remains comfortable and calm.
Did your Yorkie take its tooth brushing session like a champ? A well-deserved treat will reinforce the behavior and train them to behave accordingly during tooth brushing. Positive reinforcement helps your dog adapt to the new routine of brushing its teeth.
But don’t give just any treat or you will undo the good work you have done of cleaning your dog’s teeth. Chewy or sugary treats stick to the teeth and reintroduce the buildup of bacteria and plaque.
Consider dental chews because they contain ingredients that help fight plaque. Rawbone also helps to scrape the teeth and clean them in the process. Just ensure that you supervise your dog if you give a raw bone to avoid the bone splintering becoming a hazard to your companion.
Some people prefer to reward their Yorkies with a chew toy. Chew toys are also excellent for cleaning the teeth. They have ridges and nubs that get in between the Yorkie’s teeth and dislodge any food particles or plaque hiding there.
If you continue to find that your dog won’t let you brush their teeth, take a look at our related guide on how to brush a dog’s teeth that hates being brushed.
Frequently asked questions
When should I start brushing my Yorkie’s teeth?
Between eight and sixteen weeks is a good time so that even their deciduous puppy teeth are healthy. If you don’t clean a puppy’s teeth, they become susceptible to the same dental diseases and their effects as an adult Yorkie. Plus, introducing brushing that early helps them get used to the activity and they don’t give you problems into adulthood.
Brushing a puppy’s deciduous teeth results in healthier permanent teeth which begin to come in at around four months of age.
What color should my Yorkie’s gums be?
Your Yorkie should have bubble gum pink gums. That is the healthy hue of a dog’s gums. And when you press on the gum it should become pale pink to white. But the minute the pressure is off they resume their natural pink color within two seconds.
Blue gums are an indication of inadequate amounts of oxygen circulating in your Yorkie’s blood. Congestive heart failure and respiratory diseases can cause blue gums. Bright red gums indicate that the dog may have gingivitis and white to pale pink gums occur when your dog is anemic. Bleeding gums can be a result of gingivitis or stomatitis.
How can I fix my Yorkie’s bad breath?
Brushing correctly and giving dental chews can go a long way in alleviating bad breath. If your Yorkie’s bad breath is because of teething brushing will help. The bad breath occurs during this period because of the saliva and blood buildup as the permanent teeth penetrate the gums. Bad breath during teething smells like milk gone sour.
Bad breath from periodontal disease may need a visit to the vet for professional cleaning. The overcrowding of teeth in Yorkies can make it hard to get to the problem areas with brushing at home only. Start taking your Yorkie to the vet before two years of age to catch any issues before they become a bigger problem.
How many teeth do Yorkies lose?
Yorkies have 28 puppy teeth which they lose to be replaced by 42 adult teeth. The permanent teeth begin to come in from the age of four months. However, in some cases, the permanent teeth grow beside the baby teeth causing extra teeth in the mouth.
What do you feed a Yorkie with no teeth?
Yorkie puppies are born with no teeth. So, they drink milk until their deciduous teeth come in and they can begin eating solid food. But if your Yorkie has lost teeth, consider feeding it soft canned food. Minced versions of dog food enhanced with gravy are available for such dogs.
They can also eat regular kibble moistened with warm water after being crushed into smaller crumbs. Most kibble takes a minimum of 20 minutes to soften fully. Some companies offer options for feeding your toothless companion. One of them is Just food for Dogs which creates ready to chew, swallow and digest nutritious foods.