As you may know, keeping up with your dog’s dental hygiene at home can be a real uphill battle. Most dogs do not enjoy having their teeth brushed and will refuse all of your attempts. Knowing how to brush your dog’s teeth is just the first step in getting your dog acclimated and comfortable with the idea of having a foreign object rubbing all over their mouth.
To brush your dog’s teeth, begin by lifting their lips and using a toothbrush, gently work around their teeth and gums. Use a back and forth motion with the brush, paying close attention to working along the gum line. You can opt to use toothpaste as well to help reduce plaque buildup.
There are many schools of thought regarding the best brushes to use, how to get your dog used to having their teeth brushed, dental bones, and whether or not to use toothpaste. I will go over some of the best practices I have gathered throughout my experience that will make brushing your dog’s teeth a breeze.
Getting Your Dog Used To Having Their Teeth Brushed
Before you can begin actually brushing, you need to make sure that your dog is comfortable with having its mouth handled and lips moved around. If at all possible, begin touching your dog’s mouth when they are very young so that way they can get used to it early on. If you have an older dog, slowly introduce the concept to them each day and reward them with the best treats you have.
To acclimate an older dog to a toothbrush, let them sniff the brush and reward them immediately for the positive interaction. Place the brush in their mouth and then immediately remove it and reward with a treat. These slow steps will take a while, but your dog will begin to associate the toothbrush with yummy treats and lots of praise. Once they are more comfortable, start brushing one side of even a few teeth at a time. Reward them and wait until the next day to do any more as you don’t want your dog to feel forced to endure a full brush right off the bat.
How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Correctly
Now that your dog is acclimated, it is now time to go over exactly how to brush your dog’s teeth. If you are opting to use toothpaste, I would highly recommend using Petrodex, as this will loosen up any built-up plaque on your dog’s teeth. It comes in a poultry flavor which most dogs seem not only to enjoy but look forward to. Place the toothpaste on either your toothbrush or finger toothbrush and begin brushing along the gum line. You will need to get as close to the gum line as possible to remove the bacteria on their teeth.
Repeat the process for each side, top, and bottom of your dog’s mouth. Be sure to praise them often, as this can be an uncomfortable experience for them the first couple of times. It can be a bit challenging to maneuver around your dog’s mouth, especially having to get under their lip with the brush. I recommend using a finger toothbrush as this allows you to have a couple of extra fingers available. It also lets you have more control over where the brush is going when it’s inside your dog’s mouth and doesn’t have a long handle to contend with.
After a successful brush, reward your dog with a lot of praise. You can give them treats after brushing as the toothpaste doesn’t need to sit on their teeth to be effective. Depending on the level of plaque or natural chewing your dog does, it may be worth reading up on how often you should brush your dog’s teeth, which I have outlined in another post. With frequent cleaning and the right toothpaste and brush, your dog showing off some seriously pearly whites.
The more you brush your dog’s teeth and maintain their dental hygiene, the healthier they will be. Routine brushing significantly cuts down on the risk of periodontal diseases and can reduce the need for full dental cleanings at the vet’s office (which can be pricey!). Getting your dog used to your toothbrush of choice is imperative to your success in cleaning their teeth, but it is absolutely worthwhile for a happy, healthy pup.