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Brush Your Dog’s Teeth at Home

It may seem like a huge hassle, but you can brush your dog’s teeth in the comfort of your own home without a searing migraine. Here are some tips on what you need and how to do it.

What you need

1.    Toothpastes and Rinses

  • Use toothpaste that has been made for pets. If you use toothpaste designed for people the active ingredients in it can severely upset your dog’s stomach.
  • Look for toothpastes, rinses or tooth gels that have the active ingredients Chlorhexidine, Hexametaphosphate, or zinc Gluconate. These might sound scary, but they are all approved ingredients for use on dogs.
  • If your dog has periodontal disease you may need to use a fluoride rinse on them. Again, do not use any fluoride products designed for people. You must choose one that is specifically for animals. Your vet will have some products they can recommend.

2.    Toothbrushes

  • When shopping for the right toothbrush for your dog take into consideration the overall health of their gums, size of their mouth and your ability to clean your dog’s teeth.
  • Check with pet stores or your veterinarian for specially designed pet toothbrushes. They are smaller and have super soft bristles to help make brushing your dog’s teeth easier. They also have a different shape to them for easier maneuvering in your pup’s mouth.
  • Finger toothbrushes are often easier to use for many.

3.    Sponges and Pads

  • Dental sponges and pads are a good item to use if you are just starting out with brushing your dog’s teeth at home.
  • Dental sponges have a small, porous sponge attached to the end of a small handle. You can use these the clean each tooth individually and more gently.
  • Dental pads are used by wiping them on each tooth to remove extra debris and tartar buildup.
  • Both of these items are softer and gentler than a pet toothbrush.

How to do it

1.    Allow your dog to get used to the toothpaste.

  • You’ll want to let your dog taste the toothpaste you will be using on them.
  • These pastes have flavors like meat so that dog’s will enjoy the taste. If your dog is not linking the toothpaste you have after a couple of days, you may need to try a different flavor.
  • Give your dog praise for licking the toothpaste so they will begin to look forward to eating the paste.
  • After they have tried the toothpaste a couple of times you’ll want to place some of it against their teeth so they can become used to having it there when it comes time for brushing.

2.    Get them used to having the toothbrush in their mouth.

  • Whether you are using a brush, sponge or pad you will need to help your dog get used to this foreign object.
  • Dogs do not readily allow strange things to be pushed against their teeth. Gently touch the instrument you are using to their mouths and teeth while praising them for licking the instruments or allowing them to be put fully into their mouths.
  • You want them to get the idea that having the toothbrush, sponge or pads in their mouths are a good thing. You can even give rewards such as small treats or toys.
  • This may take a few days of practice and positive reinforcement.

3.    Brush just a few teeth at a time.

  • Once your dog is used to both the toothpaste and toothbrush you want to start out slowly and gently when brushing their teeth. Make sure to pull back their gums lightly and brush a couple of teeth to start.
  • You are looking for how they react. If they seem to enjoy it or not care much either way, then you can continue to gently brush each of your dog’s teeth. Take care around their gums and focus on removing any plaque or tartar buildup your find. Do not brush back and forth too quickly and do not bear down on their teeth too hard.
  • If your dog seems to dislike the brushing then stop for the day and let them lick the toothpaste and toothbrush to re-familiarize with the items.
  • While you are brushing your dog’s teeth, be sure to hold the brush or sponge downward at a 45 degree angle.
  • Just clean the outside surface of your dog’s teeth. Their tongues do an excellent job of keeping the parts of the teeth that face inward very clean and plaque free.

Always talk to and praise your dog during this process. Make sure to let them know they are being good and doing such a good job. You want to make this seem like a game you two are playing. They will enjoy it a lot more and the job will get done faster. If you can, try to brush your dog’s teeth at least every week. Some shoot for every day, but that can be time consuming. Remember, the most difficult part of the process is just getting started and getting your pup or pups used to the process. Be patient with them and help them know that it is ok and actually something they can come to enjoy.

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