Dogs need to have their teeth cleaned as do humans. You must clean your dog's teeth to clear away food debris that can harden and become plaque. If you do not brush your dog's teeth, your dog is at risk for bad breath, tooth decay, doggy breath, and tooth infections that can spread throughout the body and be fatal. Familiarize your dog with tooth brushing by putting your fingers in your dog's mouth and touching their gums and teeth for a month or so before you actually brush their teeth. When your dog is familiar with this action, begin to brush your dog's teeth as follows:
Dog Toothpaste: Do not use toothpaste made for humans as it has toxic ingredients that can be fatal when swallowed. Only use toothpaste made especially for dogs. You can buy dog toothpaste at a pet supply store or from your veterinarian. Doggy toothpaste is flavored especially for dogs in flavors such as liver, beef, chicken, and peanut butter.
Dog Toothbrush: To brush your dog's teeth, use a toothbrush especially made for dogs. Dog toothbrushes are softer and slanted to make toothbrushing more effective. Do not use a toothbrush for humans as it is not shaped correctly and is ineffective. If you do not have a dog toothbrush, you can use a soft cloth wrapped around your finger.
- Prepare to Brush: Stroke your dog's teeth gently with your finger to let your dog know that you will be working around their mouth. Touch all of your dog's gums and teeth to prepare your dog for this brushing.
- Time to Brush: Only brush your dog's teeth when they are calm and relaxed. If not relaxed, you will only upset your dog and they will resist you next time they see the doggy toothbrush or smell the doggy toothpaste. Sit in front of your dog and pet your dog around their face, neck, ears, and snout.
- Place the Toothbrush: Lift up your dog's upper lip and place your dog's toothbrush at your dog's gum line angled toward your dog's teeth. Place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle for best results. Do not rush.
- Brush Your Dog's Teeth: Start at the back of your dog's mouth on your dog's upper teeth. Use small circular brush strokes brushing your dog's teeth and massaging your dog's gums. Stop every so often to allow your dog to lick her teeth. Brush the outside surface of your dog's teeth first and move toward the front of their mouth. Move to your dog's bottom teeth in the back of their mouth. Brush from the back to the front of their teeth. Move to the other side of their mouth and repeat brushing your dog's top teeth and move to their bottom teeth.
- Reassure Your Dog: Keep talking and reassuring your dog as you brush their teeth. Tell your dog that they are good and how much you love them. Keep talking and reassuring them throughout this procedure. Tell your dog what you are doing and how good they are to allow you to brush their teeth.
Once you have finished brushing your dog's teeth, lead your dog to their water bowl so that they can take a drink of water and rinse their teeth and mouth. Brush your dog's teeth often. Begin by brushing their teeth once a week and work up to brushing your dog's teeth every other day. In this way, you will be able to give your dog a clean mouth and cut down on veterinary visits.
If you want to keep your dog's teeth clean but aren't able to brush their teeth on your own at home, visit a clinic like Windsor Veterinary Clinic PC to have them perform the cleaning.