We love our dogs so much that we’re willing to spend hundreds of dollars in food, accessories, and toys just to spoil them. We go to great lengths to keep them safe and healthy. This includes grooming, training, and veterinarian visits.
Dental health is often overlooked. When was the last time you opened your dog’s mouth to examine their teeth and gums? Sadly, many of us don’t bother checking. We’re content with giving them chew toys and dental sticks and hoping this will keep their teeth clean.
Unfortunately, like human teeth, dog’s teeth can also be damaged from years of neglect or improper cleaning. Plaque and dental calculus can build up if your dog’s teeth are not cleaned routinely. The buildup cause problems such as gingivitis, gum diseases, and tooth loss. Even typical “dog breath” could be a sign of dental problems. Halitosis is a common sign and should be monitored routinely.
Don’t just grab a spare toothbrush and force your pet to open wide. There are steps to properly brush your dog’s teeth. We should ensure that we make the experience as positive and pain-free for your dog. Over time this will likely result in a dog that’s less hesitant to let you brush its teeth.
Getting the Right Tools for the Job
A human’s toothbrush won’t work well for your dog’s teeth. It’s not designed to reach all the teeth in their mouth. Also, the design can be uncomfortable or painful for them. This can make it a traumatizing experience for your pet.
Consider the following:
- Angled pet toothbrush – the heads are angled to clean hard-to-reach areas in your dog’s mouth
- Finger toothbrush – a toothbrush head that easily slips on your finger, so that you can make the most out of your dexterous hands to thoroughly clean the teeth
- Electric toothbrush for pets – a pricey alternative, but an effective solution to quickly remove plaque buildup
With your choice of a toothbrush, you can choose your toothpaste. Be sure to use one that’s specifically for dogs. Human toothpaste can contain ingredients that are dangerous for your dog. Dog toothpaste has flavors that make brushing a delicious experience. Imagine brushing with something that tastes like chicken or peanut butter!
Finding the Perfect Time and Setting a Routine
If you haven’t tried brushing your dog’s teeth before, keep one thing in mind: patience is a virtue. The right time to brush is when your dog is calm and relaxed. Dogs are calm after long walks or after meals. Make sure your dog’s mouth is clean and healthy. Ideally, you want to brush your dog’s teeth daily to avoid plaque. While brushing, check for gum diseases, tooth decay, and loose teeth. If there’s a minimum buildup of plaque, you can switch to brushing three times a week.
Learn to brush Dog’s teeth in 4 steps
Step 1. Approach your relaxed dog and make sure that both of you are in a comfortable position. Don’t try to hold them down or stand over you. This is seen as a threatening position for most animals. They can become defensive or traumatized by this experience.
The best position is to kneel or sit in front of your dog. Make sure they’re okay with you touching and opening their mouth. If they’re anxious or upset, it’s better to let them calm down and try again later. Let them smell the toothbrush first, or give them a taste of the flavored toothpaste. Patience is a virtue, and you may need several attempts before you can master this step fully.
Step 2. Check to see if you can touch their mouth. Rub your finger along her teeth and gums. This way, they’ll get used to that brushing feeling rubbing against their teeth. Apply a light amount of pressure and see how comfortable they are with this movement.
Their first instinct is usually to lick, and they’ll probably eat most of the toothpaste before you even start brushing. This is one way to see if they like the flavor. While they’re licking, try to get a few brush strokes on their teeth.
Step 3. Now that you know your dog is receptive to brushing, you can finally start cleaning their teeth. Lift the upper lip carefully with your free hand. Check which parts have plaque buildup and start from there. Using the toothbrush, angle the bristles so that they reach the gum line. A 45-degree angle can massage the gum line with repeated strokes, effectively clearing away the plaque buildup. Repeat this until you’ve cleaned that area, then proceed to another part.
It’s better to follow a circular motion when brushing so that you can cover both top and bottom teeth effectively. Brushing in small circles slowly and carefully won’t hurt your dog. However, occasionally you may notice slight bleeding from their gums. This is a common occurrence and isn’t a cause for alarm. If you notice heavy bleeding, you might be using too much force. It could also be a sign of gum disease. If heavy bleeding happens frequently, you should check with your vet for advice.
Step 4. Always keep the mood positive, even when your dog is struggling a bit. Talk to them throughout the process and the usual praises will go the extra mile. This way, they’ll know that this isn’t a punishment for bad behavior. They won’t really warm up to the idea of getting their teeth brushed right away.
When done brushing, reward them with their favorite treat. These associates teeth brushing with a positive experience. It will help the next time its time for brushing. It may take them a while to get used to this routine, but setting a schedule and following through will be a big help.
Hi, I’m John. People often recognize me as a professional dog trainer and blogger. I wear many hats. My proudest title is being a dog advocate. Anyhow, if you ever want to reach out send me a message firstname.lastname@example.org