Maintaining your dog’s dental health by brushing their teeth is essential for their overall health. As a pet parent it means you’ve got to get your hands dirty, in order to get your pet’s teeth clean.
Dental disease is one of the most common ailments seen by Greencross Vets with 80% of dogs and cats showing signs of dental disease by their third year of life, however it is completely preventable. If you want tailored advice on how you can care for your pet’s teeth and avoid this disease altogether, book a dental check-up at your local Greencross Vets.
One of the many ways you can clean your dog’s teeth at home is by brushing their teeth. As with most activities, it’s best to introduce your pet to having their teeth brushed when they’re a puppy so they become accustomed to this routine, however it’s still possible for old dogs to learn new dental care best practices!
Remember that brushing their teeth should always remain a fun and positive experience for your pet. While it’s a necessary part of their dental care routine, it’s also a bonding moment for you each day. Reward your pet for good behaviour (perhaps with a dental treat) so that they enjoy having their teeth brushed and don’t resist this important activity.
How to brush your dog’s teeth
1. Buy a dog toothbrush.
Compared to human toothbrushes, toothbrushes for dogs are smaller and have softer bristles. Depending on the size of your dog, you may be able to use a kid’s toothbrush, or if your dog is on the smaller side, finger toothbrushes may be a better option for you.
2. Select a dog toothpaste.
Available in flavours like chicken and beef, dog toothpastes are designed to fight plaque and tartar but still be tasty and appealing for your pet. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog as it contains ingredients that are designed to be spit out, which your dog won’t know to do.
3. Allow your dog to become comfortable with you touching their mouth.
Start by giving their muzzle a light rub with your finger. Progress to gently touching their teeth and gums so they become used to you interacting with the inside and outside of their mouth. You may want to build on this step over a few days before you actually begin brushing their teeth.
4. Give your dog a taste of the toothpaste and show them the toothbrush.
Familiarising your dog with these items will encourage them to not be afraid of this new activity. You can try putting some toothpaste onto the brush and letting your dog eat off it as the appetising flavours should make them eager to begin this process.
5. Choose the right moment.
Brush your dog’s teeth when you’re both relaxed. Try your best to make this an enjoyable process for your pet for example by getting down onto their level and not standing over them when you brush their teeth.
6. Begin brushing your dog’s teeth in small circles.
Start with the easiest to reach teeth until you both become more confident with the process, and then move on to the rest of their teeth. Remember to brush all the inside and outside surfaces as well as across the entire gum line to remove the daily plaque build-up on their teeth. Praise your dog’s good behaviour throughout the session.
7. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth for two minutes every day.
Integrate this activity into your daily routine together so they become accustomed to having their teeth cleaned, which will help fight off dental disease.
8. After each session, reward your dog.
Give them a small dental treat or their favourite toy to play with to help your dog to associate tooth brushing with a positive memory, making them more agreeable to the activity each time.
Brushing your dog’s teeth every day is the best way to keep their teeth free from dental disease, but there are other activities you can integrate into their daily routine in order to clean your dog’s teeth at home. Start by feeding a dental diet and provide your pet with a range of dental chew toys and dental treats for enjoyable ways to scrub away plaque. Remember to still book regular dental checkups at your local Greencross Vets because just like for you, it’s important that your dog sees the dentist in addition to having a home dental care routine.