Oral health care is sometimes not a primary focus for pet owners. You wouldn’t believe the number of pet owners that we have talked to that don’t really do anything to care for their pet’s teeth. When asked what the number one preventative measure is to prevent oral health issues, our answer is brushing their teeth. If you brush them regularly, you can keep away germs and debris that may cause infection or other issues with your dog’s teeth or gums.
Dental disease can actually spread systemically to other major organs, including:
- The heart valves
- The liver
- The kidneys
If you are new to brushing your dog’s teeth, here is a guide that will help you to do it properly.
Step by Step: How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Step 1: Select the Right Toothbrush
First, you will need to take a look at the different types of toothbrushes that are safe to use on your dog’s teeth and gums. You can’t just run to your local supermarket and pick up a regular toothbrush, contrary to popular belief. There are certain brushes that are specifically designed for use on dogs. You can also choose from sponges and pads that are also effective at cleaning their teeth and gums.
Before you buy a toothbrush, sponge or finger pad brush, make sure that you think about the size of their mouth, and how healthy their gums are. If they have sensitive gums, you may just want to use a soft sponge to prevent abrasions. If your pet has a tiny mouth, a small finger brush may be adequate. Take a look at your options, and make the best choice based on your dog and your particular abilities.
Step 2: Select the Right Toothpaste
Next, you will need to make sure that you are using the right type of toothpaste. Just as you cannot use a regular toothbrush on a dog, regular toothpaste isn’t safe for them either. It can actually be toxic to them because it contains a high amount of fluoride. It is important to take a look at the toothpastes that are designed for dogs. The good news is that they come in pup friendly flavors, like peanut butter, chicken or beef. These flavors can really help, because pups generally like it, and it can make the whole process easier on you.
Step 3: Prepare Your Pup
Before you go to your pup and just try to brush their teeth for the first time, let them taste the toothpaste on your finger. Show them the toothbrush. Let them get a feel for it. This is important, and it also helps you to earn trust with them. It may be important to introduce them to these things over the course of a couple of days. You don’t want to just jump right in, because it can be a bit overwhelming for them.
Step 4: Brush Their Teeth
To properly brush their teeth, you will want to start by getting them happy about it. Then, gently lift their upper lip up and put the brush on their gum line at a 45 degree angle. You will then gently go back and forth with the brush. If it is your first time, you may want to only do one or two teeth to start out with. Again, you don’t want them to be overwhelmed by it. Once you work your way up to brushing them all at once, they will be used to it and it won’t be overwhelming to them anymore.
Step 5: Praise Your Dog
Once you get done brushing their teeth, you will want to give them praise for being good! This will help to encourage good behavior for future brushings. Some pet owners choose to follow up with a dental treat, just to make sure the teeth are cleaned thoroughly, and this makes a great “after brushing” treat, and your pup won’t even know that it is ‘good for them’!
So, now that you know how to go about properly brushing your dog’s teeth, you will want to make sure that you know how often you need to do it. Typically, it is a good idea to brush their teeth on a regular basis. Most veterinarians will recommend that you brush their teeth on a daily basis, but if you are realistic, everyone is going to skip a day every now and then. So, what do you do to help keep their teeth clean between brushings? That’s simple! Start out by giving them dry kibble instead of wet or canned food as their regular diet. The wet foods are okay as a supplement, but with these foods, there is no crunching helping to brush away plaque and other debris. For this reason, it is really important to always brush their teeth after a meal of canned or wet food.
There really are no excuses when it comes to properly caring for your pet’s teeth and gums. If you haven’t been brushing their teeth regularly, it is time to get started. Use this guide to properly brushing your dog’s teeth to help get you on the right track with their oral health care. Don’t just do it once and stop, make it a habit so that you can promote overall health and wellness.