Good oral health plays a critical part in the overall health of your dog. Unfortunately, dog owners usually overlook brushing their dog’s teeth compared to other grooming needs. Poor oral hygiene leads to bad breath and the build-up of tartar and plaque on the gums and teeth, causing periodontal disease. While this disease can cause tooth decay and gum disease, it can also lead to heart, liver, or kidney disease and has a deadly effect on your dog. Therefore, regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is the key to combat periodontal disease in dogs.
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When Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
It is advised to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice daily. Once brushing becomes a part of your canine’s daily routine, he will begin to expect and enjoy it. Brushing a week thrice is the minimum number to help remove plaque and prevent tartar accumulation in your dog’s teeth. It is good to start brushing your dog’s teeth when he is young, preferably as early as eight weeks of age. However, this will not create much difference in the puppy’s overall dental health as his permanent teeth are set when he is six to eight months old. Therefore, this becomes the ideal time to start brushing your dog’s teeth. If you have an older dog, the process may take a bit longer, but it is still worth the effort.
Tools Required to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
- Dog Toothbrush
- Dog Toothpaste
- Dog Treats
Steps to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
- Figure out the Right Time
When you notice your dog calm and relaxed, you can plan to brush your dog’s teeth. Of course, daily brushing is best, but even three days a week will be sufficient if their mouth is clean. Plaque formation occurs if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, which leads to bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay, and painful infections. Severe infection can cause life-threatening conditions.
- Get your Tools Ready
Use a dog-specific toothbrush whose bristles are softer and specially angled. Use a finger brush if your dog is under 30 pounds. For larger dogs, toothbrushes with longer handles can give you better reach. Do not forget to use toothpaste exclusively made for dogs. It comes in dog-friendly flavors like poultry or peanut butter. In contrast, human toothpaste contains ingredients that may hurt your dog’s stomach leading to stomach upsets.
- Find a Position
Make sure to be in a position where your dog is comfortable. Don’t stand above your dog, hold down, or take a threatening stance. Instead, sit or kneel in front of or to the side of your canine. Check his anxiety level; if he seems upset, stop, and try again later. This process can take some time for both of you to get used to it. It would be best if you mastered each of the following steps over time to understand your dog’s priorities.
- Get Their Gums Ready
Check if your dog is willing to have you touch their mouth and teeth. For this, try rubbing your finger on your dog’s upper gums and teeth to see if he allows it. Continue this trick until your dog gets used to the feel against their teeth. Apply light pressure and get your dog comfortable with this over a few sessions before moving forward into the process.
- Test the Toothpaste
Put some dog toothpaste on your fingertip and allow your dog to lick the toothpaste so that he may get used to the texture and taste. It will take at least a week for your dog to get used to the toothpaste taste. If your dog refuses to lick the toothpaste after several tries, pick a different flavor. Hopefully, your dog might find this as a treat.
- Test Toothbrush and Toothpaste Together
Firstly, introduce the toothbrush to the dog’s mouth. Do not brush instantly. After a few attempts, when your dog allows you to open and touch his mouth, start using the toothbrush and toothpaste together. Gently and gradually begin brushing your dog’s teeth. Lift his upper lip, and as you approach his teeth with the toothbrush, angle the bristles so that they reach the gum line. Placing the brush at a 45° angle against his teeth will help the bristles brush the gum line and clean away the plaque.
- Use Circular Movement
Brush your canine’s teeth in small circles, moving the brush top and bottom on each side. While you move the bristles along the gum line, some slight bleeding may occur. Slight bleeding every so often is not a big deal. But heavy bleeding may mean you are brushing too aggressively, or it may be a sign of gum disease. Speak with your vet for advice.
- Focus on the Plaque
Start brushing a few teeth at a time, working up to more each day. Aim for two minutes total. If your dog resists at first, try starting on the outsides of the canine and back teeth, where plaque tends to collect; If you can get the insides, great. But if you can’t get to them, don’t stress too much. Their rough tongue helps keep that area cleaner.
- Convince your Dog
Keep your dog’s mood light while you are brushing his teeth. Communicate with him throughout the brushing process, telling him exactly what you are doing. Tell him that he is a good dog by gently caressing his jowls or patting his head.
- Reward your Dog
Once you finish brushing your dog’s teeth, reward him with his favorite treat. Also, keep in mind that brushing alone will not keep your dog’s dental care in check. Some chews and treats can also prevent plaque formation. Finally, do not forget to schedule regular expert dental cleanings. Ask your vet about how often it is suitable for your dog.
How to Clean the Teeth of an Uncooperative Dog?
Not all dogs are cooperative. Some dogs are afraid of things that are new to them.Even after starting from the early stages of their lives, they still do not cooperate with you. To brush an uncooperative dog, you should plan for a few things before beginning the process. Those are:
- Use a Finger Brush/Dental Wipes/Clean Cloth
- Using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste is perfect. But, if your dog isn’t tolerating brushing, there are other possible options. If your dog does not accept a toothbrush, try applying toothpaste with a thin piece of clean material wrapped around your finger. You can also try finger brushes and dental wipes that fit your finger to make the process easier.
- Using these methods, you can notice some friction while applying the paste and help slow plaque build-up.
- Use Dog Chew Toys
- Chew toys can wipe away soft tartar present in your dog’s teeth and massage their tooth gums. These toys also help to prevent boredom and reduce stress. Give your dog rubber, rawhide, and nylon chew toys. You can also check with your vet for a recommendation.
- Dog chew toys and bones are an excellent supplement to regular brushing. Although, they are not a suitable replacement for brushing in the long term.
- Pick Foods That Help Clean Teeth
Feed your dog dry food and treats rather than canned food to slow the build-up of plaque and tartar. Some foods are designed to aid in cleaning a dog’s teeth while eating, but they aren’t a suitable replacement for brushing in the long run.
- Try a Gel or Spray
Some of the other alternatives to brushing include gels and sprays that you can apply regularly. These alternatives contain ingredients to prevent the bacterial growth that causes tartar formation in teeth. Consult with your vet about using these products.
- Get a Professional Cleaning
After all the trials, ask a professional vet to get it done for you if your dog isn’t still allowing you to clean his teeth. Also, make sure to discuss your dog’s dental wellness at your regular vet visits.
Pro Tips to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
- The sooner you start brushing your dog’s teeth, the healthier their teeth will be throughout their entire life.
- Dry dog food is better for your dog than wet food, which includes occasional chew treats.
- Do not try to pressurize your dog or punish him if he resists tooth brushing. Forcing him to co-operate will only make him more hesitant to let you brush his teeth—it might even cause defensive aggression. Instead, gently accustom your dog to tooth brushing.
- Consult a Certified Expert Dog Trainer to help you brush your dog’s teeth if you need any assistance.
- You can also consult a professional veterinarian if your dog needs more intense cleaning.
- It is recommended for your dog to take regular annual vet exams that include a dental check-up.
How to Brush Dog’s Teeth Videos
Regular brushing is the best way to keep your dog’s oral health in good condition. Initially, it can be challenging for you and your dog to get used to the process, but it is worth the wait. Never take this grooming process lightly, as many dog owners usually do not bother to brush their dog’s teeth. So it is suggested to take care of your dog’s oral health and help him stay away from dental problems.