If you are a dog owner, you have probably stumbled across or considered the idea of brushing your dog’s teeth. Whether your dog’s teeth are already in need, or you just want to start the healthy habit, having a regular brushing routine can be extremely beneficial to your dog’s health. Periodontal disease occurs very frequently in dogs and it can unfortunately have some scary consequences. From bad breath to tooth decay, implementing a brushing routine can cut down on the risks from unhealthy teeth and gums.
Fortunately, it is never too late to start and you can help your furry pal adjust to their new routine with treats, praise and patience! So, let’s start with the basics.
Find The Right Toothbrush
The key to effective canine teeth brushing is to find the perfect toothbrush. Canine toothbrushes resemble human toothbrushes, but they are smaller in size and contain softer bristles. They can come in a variety of colors and styles, so be sure to ask your dog what they prefer. 🙂
You can also check out the finger toothbrush. This handy little finger glove slips right over your finger and contains tiny bristles that can be used to clean those hard to reach spots.
You can find some great toothbrush options here!
Use A Dog-Friendly Toothpaste
It is important to know that you should never use human toothpaste for your animal. Most human toothpastes contain fluoride, which can be extremely toxic or even fatal to dogs. Find a pet-friendly toothpaste that comes in a tasty flavor that your pet is sure to love. If you prefer the old fashion route, you can always whip up your own pet friendly toothpaste with a tablespoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of water.
Start the Process
The brushing process should always be a pleasant experience for both you and your pet. Most pets will enjoy the extra attention especially if the reward is extra time with their beloved owner. Be sure to have some treats on hand as they help to encourage cooperative behavior.
Step 1: Begin by gently petting or scratching your pet’s muzzle. Then, slowly left the lip for about 25-30 seconds. Lower the lip and reward with a treat if your doggy cooperated nicely.
Step 2: Repeat the above step. Yet this time, run your finger gently over the teeth for about 25-35 seconds. If all goes well, praise and reward again.
Step 3: Now, place a small amount of pet-friendly toothpaste onto the toothbrush. Let your dog lick it to try out the flavor. (Everyone loves taste testers!)
Step 4: If all is going well, you can begin actually brushing the teeth. The outer upper surfaces are the most important areas to target. Be sure to brush for at least 20-30 seconds on each side.
Now, you know your pet better than most. If they seem comfortable with the process, keep going! But, if your pet is resistant and uncooperative, take it day by day. Try a new step each day, slowly allowing them to adjust to the idea of teeth brushing. If they remain resistant, even after a few times of trying- discontinue attempts. You don’t want to stress your dog out more than necessary. Consider visiting your veterinary professional for some guidance.
Some Tooth Brushing Tips!
- Be patient! Staying calm and remaining patient will help your dog in feeling more comfortable with this process.
- You do not have to rinse the toothpaste from the teeth! They will enjoy the flavor and it is not harmful for them to swallow. (Remember- use PET SAFE toothpaste only!)
- Initiate the brushing session after a long walk or some great play time. That way, your dog has already been physically stimulated and will be somewhat worn out and more willing to cooperate.
- Focus on the upper teeth and the outside surfaces. Decrease the time spent inside their mouth by just focusing on these key areas!
Remember, this is supposed to be any enjoyable and positive experience. Have fun and encourage good behavior with praise and treats! Also, be sure to keep an eye out for any dental warning signs while you are brushing the teeth. Look for swollen or bleeding gums, missing or loose teeth, bumps or cysts and anything else that may be a cause for concern. Consult your veterinarian if you see anything alarming.