If you haven’t brushed your dogs teeth before then you can start now. Follow these steps to ease your dog into the swing of things. If you can brush them once a week you are doing a great job.
1: Find the Right Time
Brush your dog’s teeth when they are calm and relaxed.
2: Get Their Gums Ready
I start without a brush and just rub my finger along the gums and teeth. This gets them used to the feel of something against the teeth. I start with light pressure and add a tasty meat flavour dog toothpaste to make this more fun. If this is all can do for a while that’s great – choose an enzyme toothpaste as it will prevent dental plaque from forming on the teeth and help to reduce bad breath. If after a few days they refuse the taste, try a different flavour to find one they like.
3: Get Prepared
You should use a toothbrush made for dogs. The bristles are softer and specially angled. Finger brushes can work well for dogs under 30 pounds – think of a silicone thimble with soft bristles. For larger dogs, longer handles can give you better reach. Use dog toothpaste, too, it comes in dog-friendly flavours like chicken. Never use human toothpaste; it contains ingredients that may hurt your dog’s stomach.
4: Assume the Position
Make sure you’re in a spot where your dog is comfortable. Don’t stand above them, hold them down, or take a threatening stance. Try kneeling or sitting to the side. Gauge your dog’s anxiety level. If they seem stressed, stop, and try again later. It may take practice and time to get there but it is worth it.
5: Try the Toothbrush
Once they are used to all the above, start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together. Only lift the upper lip rather than the whole mouth and angle the bristles so they reach the gum line and clear away plaque gently. Slight bleeding every so often is OK. But ongoing or heavy bleeding may mean you’re brushing too aggressively or it may be a sign of gum disease. Speak with your vet for advice.
Brush 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 as well, don’t stress too much. Their coarse tongue helps keep that area cleaner.
6: End on a Positive Note
Once you finish, reward them with their favourite (non sugary) treat or extra attention. Always stop when you are both still enjoying yourself.
Good luck!! For more ways to keep your dogs teeth clean without brushing read the next post..