How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

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brush your dog’s teeth

Your dog has teeth.

I know: SURPRISE!!!

A recent survey carried out by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Veterinary Association* found that only 10% of their clients brush their dog’s teeth on a daily basis.

Your dog’s dental hygiene is just as important as yours. Lack of care can lead to some pretty gnarly health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and respiratory issues.

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day could not only prevent these issues from arising, but will also leave your dog’s breath minty (or chickeny or beefy or livery) fresh and also give you guys another opportunity for bonding – that is, if you do it right.

Dos & Don’ts of Teeth Brushing

  • DO try to start brushing your dog’s teeth when they are a puppy, so that they get used to it early on
  • DO ask a veterinary professional to show you how to brush your dog’s teeth before you have a go yourself. You don’t want to risk damaging your dog’s delicate gums (or your delicate fingers, for that matter)
  • DO brush daily if you can, or if not, at least 3 times a week to help prevent tartar build up
  • DO choose a toothbrush that both you and your dog can get on with: a mini version of a ‘normal’ brush, dental sponges, one that fits over your finger or just a clean piece of gauze all do the trick
  • DO experiment with dog toothpaste flavours until you find one your dog likes
  • DO build up the time spent brushing slowly, so that your dog isn’t overwhelmed
  • DO take your dog for an annual check-up and professional clean at the vets
  • DON’T rush in and scare your dog with a new experience. Get your dog used to having your fingers in his mouth before starting with dental products
  • DON’T use toothpaste made for humans. They have ingredients that can be harmful to dogs
  • DON’T brush your dog’s teeth in a noisy area with lots going on. Take him somewhere quiet and calm
  • DON’T force it. Some dogs have real issues with their mouths being touched and won’t take to having their teeth brushed. If this is the case, use dental treats to do some of the work and take your dog for a regular professional clean instead

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

  1. Get your dog used to having your hands on and in his mouth by dipping your fingers in peanut butter and rubbing the outer surface of his teeth. Practise this a couple of times a day until he is comfortable
  2. Teach your dog to open his mouth for you by placing one hand under his jaw and one on his muzzle, opening his muzzle then placing your finger on his tongue for just a second. Again, practise makes perfect!
  3. Build up the time spent placing your fingers in your dog’s mouth and on his teeth, remembering to reward him for good behaviour
  4. Once your dog is OK with having your fingers in his mouth for more than a few seconds at a time, place toothpaste on the brush and gently lift your dog’s lips to show his front teeth. Brush for no more than 5 – 10 seconds. (Give him a treat if he was well behaved during this!)
  5. Gently open your dog’s mouth and brush the back teeth and inner surfaces of his front teeth
  6. Gradually build up the time spent brushing until you are sure that his teeth are sparkly clean
  7. Remember to reward your dog every time you brush his teeth so that he thinks of it as play rather than a chore

Use the above tips and method to help you brush your dog’s teeth and help him stay healthy in the dental department. Your doggy (and his vet) will thank you for it.

Happy Brushing!

* In conjunction with Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Featured Image credits: AJU photography via Flickr

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