How To Properly Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

When it is time to brush your dog’s teeth, it can be a big challenge to get your dog to accept. It’s crucial to begin training this good habit while your dog is a puppy, especially if you have a large breed dog. For instance, can you imagine trying to hold a grown Rottweiler still while you’re working on his mouth for the first time? I can’t see that going very well, especially if your dog becomes frightened, it’s not a good idea to have your hands near its mouth. A dog that has grown up having its teeth cleaned will have a higher level of comfort when it is full grown.

Let’s discuss the proper techniques on brushing and also other things that you can do for maintenance to protect your dog’s teeth.

Unfortunately, unlike kids, we are not able to instruct our dogs to brush their teeth before bed. It is another responsibility of the owner to ensure that our dogs are practicing good hygiene rituals. Most vet offices or good pet shops will offer specialty toothbrushes for your dog and even toothpaste. Remember, NEVER use human toothpaste for your dog. Fluoride is found in a lot of our toothpaste and that can be toxic to our four-legged pals. Dog toothpaste is also made to swallow; dogs just haven’t mastered the art of spitting yet. Plus, most dog toothpaste is flavored, like tasty peanut butter or meat and that can make your dog think that it is getting a treat rather than being tricked into proper hygiene.

brushing dog teeth

Getting Into A Routine of When To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Now how exactly does one get a dog used to getting its teeth brushed? It’s likely that your dog (even as a puppy) will put up some resistance to having a brush shoved in its mouth. To make it easier, begin by loading their toothbrush with dog toothpaste and allow them to lick it straight from the brush. Your dog will be able to get used to the brush and also the feel and taste of the paste. You will want to do this for a few days, pick a time when you have thoroughly exercised your dog, a tired dog is more likely to be calm when you introduce its new brush. After a few days of letting your dog get used to having the brush near its mouth you can slowly start to actually brush your dog’s teeth. You’ll want to use a special brush that features double heads and brush at a 45-degree angle so you can get under the gum line. It may try and avoid this even after becoming comfortable with the brush but it is another thing that can be mastered with proper patience and practice. Make sure you praise your dog with a reward after each practice session. Dogs are suckers for rewards and will usually compromise and do an act that they really don’t care for in exchange for a snack.

You can also improve your dog’s chances of a clean mouth by choosing to feed it more dry food than soft food. By feeding your dog strictly soft food, it is likely sticking to your dog’s teeth potentially causing decay. Stick to a hard food that offers all of the nutrients that your dog needs and maybe allow soft food as a good behavior treat every now and then. There are also a lot of products on the market that can add an extra boost to your dog’s oral hygiene. These are designed to strengthen your dog’s gums and teeth as well as reducing plaque build-up. Think of that as the same way that we chew gum in between meals because it is dentist recommended. We still need to brush but our gum adds an extra level of protection, as do these specially designed dog treats.

brush your dog's teeth

Seek Medical Advice If Your Dog Has Poor Dental-Hygiene

Even though you have now taken active steps in properly caring for your dog’s oral health, there are still some signs to look for that will require a vet’s attention. Common problem signs include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, yellow tartar build-up and, of course, missing teeth. Hopefully, your dog is already set up on regular vet checkups and a dental exam is included with a normal checkup. It’s ok, even encouraged, to ask for the vet to check and make sure that the steps you are taking at home are being effective. By practicing due diligence toward your dog’s oral health, you’ll be saving money in the long run and maybe even its life in extreme cases. Some dogs need to be given anesthesia for a mouth cleaning if their buildup is serious enough.

Like any other part of taking care of your dog, this will take a lot of patience to get your pup on a regular teeth brushing schedule. You will surely be met with a little confrontation when you introduce this behavior. Remember to start it when they are young and you have already built up a trusting relationship with your dog. There is no reason to try and have your hands that close to a dog’s mouth if it doesn’t trust you and realize that you are looking out for its best interest.