The best time to introduce your dog to letting you brush its teeth is during puppyhood; however with a little training and patience a dog of any age can become accustom to having its teeth brushed. The key to success is establishing a routine and making the entire experience positive for your dog.
Before you begin have all of your supplies ready. You will need: a chair, soft cloth, tooth brush and pet approved tooth paste
Find a tooth brush that works for you and your pet. There are many tooth brushes on the market specifically designed for dogs. Many dogs will tolerate a finger tooth brush designed to fit over your index finger. You may also use a children’s tooth brush with very soft bristles. You will want to use pet approved toothpaste; human toothpaste contains ingredients that may harm your pet if swallowed.
Begin by choosing a quiet area to start brushing
If you have a small dog place the dog in your lap with the head facing away from you
If you have a larger dog sit in a chair and have your dog sit next to you.
Start by simply lifting your dogs lips on one side by pushing the lip up with your index finger or placing your hand over the muzzle using your thumb to lift the lip.
Next using your free hand and a soft cloth around your index finger gently wipe the outer surface of a few of your dog’s teeth in a circular motion.
For the first few lessons you should just do a few teeth working your way up to the entire mouth.
Be sure to remain positive throughout this process praising your dog with each step; if it becomes too much for either of you stop the lesson on a positive note and try again later or the next day.
Once your dog has accepted you wiping the teeth with the soft cloth you can introduce the toothpaste.
Start by letting him or her lick the paste from your finger (there are various flavors available it may take trying a few to find one your dog likes) next try applying a small amount to the cloth and rub it over the teeth.
Once your dog is comfortable with you using the toothpaste with the cloth you may introduce the toothbrush.
Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush; gently raise your dogs lip and position the toothbrush along the gum line; start from the back and work your way forward moving the brush in a circular motion along each tooth.
To brush the lower teeth you will need to slightly open your dog’s mouth. While grasping the upper jaw around the muzzle with your index finger and thumb gently tilt the head backward; this should cause the lower jaw to open enough for you to brush the lower arcade.
Concentrate on only the outer surfaces of the teeth where most periodontal issues arise and aim for 30 – 60 seconds per side.
Daily brushing is recommended for the best results; however brushing 2 – 3 times a week will also be beneficial.
Getting your dog used to routine brushing can take several days to weeks. Remember to take your time, be patient and use positive reinforcement; before you know it your dog will be looking forward to having his or her teeth brushed. Do not hesitate to call us at Emerald Animal Hospital if you have questions or concerns about your pet’s oral/dental health care.