Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Good dental health is very important for your dog’s overall health and well-being.
Regular checkups by your veterinarian are very important, and professional cleanings may be necessary. However, you can help your dog maintain their oral health in between visits by brushing their teeth yourself.
Use ONLY toothpaste made for dogs! Many human toothpastes contain ingredients that are harmful or toxic to dogs.
- Consult your veterinarian on recommended brands of canine-specific toothpaste and toothbrushes. Just like all products, some are better than others! Once you have chosen your brands, it’s time to get your dog acclimated to having their teeth brushed.
- If your dog is not a fan of having their mouth handled, you will need to condition them to tolerate it first. Gently lift your dog’s lips, then give them a high-value treat. Repeat this a few times, and then end the training session. Do this a couple of times a day. Then, gradually increase how long you handle their mouth, always giving lots of praise and a food reward. Once they are comfortable with you handling their mouth, start touching their teeth, working up to running your finger over all the teeth on one side, the front teeth, and the other side. Do one section of their mouth, then reward them. Do this for the top and bottom teeth. Take your time! It is best not to rush into a lot of handling all at once.
- You can now start introducing your dog to the toothbrush, but without the toothpaste at first. Because the toothbrush is probably a novel object for them, just putting it in their mouth could be disconcerting. Let them sniff the brush, then put a little bit of peanut butter on it and let them lick it off. You’re making a positive association with the toothbrush, so they will be happy to see it rather than nervous! Next, move on to touching their teeth with the brush, then to running the brush along their teeth, then to actually brushing as instructed by your veterinarian. Again, don’t rush the process! It should be an easy and routine occurrence for you and your dog once they are used to it.