Brushing dogs teeth doesn’t sound fun, but it’s an important part of maintaining your dog’s health. Ignoring dogs’ teeth is why 70-80% of all dogs over age 3 have dental disease. This causes bad breath, oral pain, abscesses, and worse. When it gets really bad, dogs may need their teeth extracted.
To avoid it, what do you do? Learn how to brush doggie teeth. Like many other things, the trick is to take it in baby steps and make it a positive experience.
1. Start by getting your dog used to having your hands in his mouth. Play with his lips little by little, until you can lift up his lips and take a look at his teeth, from the front all the way to the back. (The back ones are most prone to disease from neglect, so it’s important you can get back there.)
2. Then, work up to gently massaging his gums. Get him used to the circular motion that will be used with a toothbrush for the most impact.
3. Don’t forget to make this positive – offer healthy treats for good behavior, or do it before a walk each evening.
4. Get the right supplies. Your vet will likely have dog-safe toothpaste and a couple toothbrushes to choose from. The toothpaste will be specially formulated to be safe for dogs. It comes in flavors dogs enjoy, like peanut butter, mint, and malt. Don't use human toothpaste - it often includes ingredients poisonous to dogs.
Toothbrushes come in 2 main styles: an angled head on a handle, like a human toothbrush, and a finger brush. The handled brushes make it easier to get to the back teeth, but I prefer the finger brushes – my dog is more tolerant of my fingers in her mouth than some foreign object. Some owners start with the finger brush then switch to the handled brush. Our complete Dog Tooth Care Set includes both types of brushes, as well as mint-flavored toothpaste for dogs. Click the link to order yours.
5.Get your dog used to the toothpaste. Put a little on your finger, then offer it like a treat for your dog to taste.
6.Introduce the toothbrush with toothpaste. Once your dog enjoys the paste, it’s time to get to work. Sit down with your dog in a position that is comfortable and non-threatening to your dog. Start brushing the front teeth.
You may only get to do it for 10-20 seconds at first. That’s ok. Don’t force it – that will make your dog see it as a negative experience. Just work up to a full teeth brushing – little longer each day, and reaching more of the teeth until you are brushing all your dog’s teeth.
It takes getting used to, but dogs will get used to it. If you make it positive and the toothpaste is like a treat, your dog will even enjoy it.
Doggie tooth brushing will save your dog pain and discomfort. It will also save you from expensive doggie dental care – and a lot of bad breath. Brushing dogs teeth takes commitment, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did it.
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Photo credit: normanack