Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth can be a fun, hands on way to bond with your four legged buddy, as well, it provides the very best oral care possible for their longevity! A healthy, disease free mouth is an essential key to a happy, healthy and longer life for your dog. Listed here are some tips and steps to confidently and carefully introduce your dog to having its mouth handled, examined and eventually have those teeth brushed!  Take all of the following steps slowly, over a few days at a time to prove best chances for success:

When beginning an oral care program it is essential not to rush the process.  Sometimes having their mouth opened and examined is a brand new experience and it should not be rushed. It may frighten them and then they will instinctively become defensive, or afraid which should at all costs be avoided. To begin simply place your hands around or near their muzzle and when they seem relaxed and comfortable they should allow you to touch their muzzle.  If they are calm, praise them, and offer them a small treat. Once seemingly comfortable with these motions proceed to move slowly and practice flipping their lips up to peek at their teeth. If they remain calm, then again more praise is awarded.

Once your dog seems comfortable with having their mouth handled it is time to introduce toothpaste and a tooth brush.  When choosing a tooth paste and brush for your pet please remember all are not created equally.  Dogs will swallow all the paste which is introduced to them so a human grade toothpaste should be avoided.  Veterinary grade toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors which are appeasing to animals and are safe for consumption. So these, paired along with an animal grade brush would be ideal for their sensitive gums and tummies. Human grade brushes can be too abrasive and difficult to maneuver around the mouth.

Squeeze a bit of toothpaste onto your finger and introduce it to your dog like a treat, again, praising them if they remain calm as you gently smear it over the OUTSIDES of their teeth.  If they seem worried, take a step back and try the process slower the next day.  If they seem calm, then massage a bit of paste over the teeth as they lick the paste off your fingers and their teeth.  Keep in mind when brushing dogs teeth it is the outsides of the teeth we want to focus on as those surfaces are more prone to collect plaque and tartar.  The insides are generally washed by the tongue and can prove to be difficult to brush. Once comfortable with your hand brushing his teeth, try introducing the brush with a small amount of paste and if calm, attempt to brush lightly on the outsides of their teeth.  Praise them if they are remaining calm and remember to remain calm yourself.  Keep positive, successful teeth brushing session short to begin with, maybe only a few moments at a time, and as they adapt and get used to the new sensation to gradually extend the duration of brushing sessions.

If all has gone well so far, and your furry buddy is now allowing you to open, handle, and brush those teeth, offer lots of praise and love and tell them how good of a dog they have been!  Teeth brushing should be a fun, positive way to bond with your little friend and a clean mouth will ensure a healthy happy dog!  If you have more questions in regards to brushing and oral hygiene please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian and discuss you options with a veterinary professional!

Written by Jessie, RAHT