How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

By Sherry Frewerd

If you’re a pet owner, are you aware that dogs get cavities in their teeth just like humans? If left untreated and uncared for, dogs get cavities which result in not only bad breath, but other physical ailments as well. Dogs do not get cavities as frequently as humans do, but many of the problems of bad dental care in dogs can be prevented.

People who feed their dogs only soft food are potentially contributing to dental issues. The soft food is left in the gums of the dog causing bad breath and infections. Also, people who live in areas of the country where the water is hard will very likely have dogs with tooth problems since the hard water leaves tartar that builds up on dog teeth just as it does in humans.

So what are you supposed to do other than buy hard food and give your dog filtered water? Number one; regularly brush your dog’s teeth. Some folks are extremely intimidated by the idea of opening their dog’s mouth and brushing the rows of sharp teeth, if you slowly get your dog used to regular teeth brushing, you should be able to get the job done without too much trouble.

There are many different kinds of dog toothbrushes and flavored toothpaste now that help make your dog more interested in the idea.

If your dog is young you can start off brushing his teeth from the get go and he’ll ease into the idea rather quickly most likely. Dogs simply do not like having their mouths messed with, so it may take some time to instill the habit. One way to begin easily is to start by lifting his lips and examining his teeth several times a week, each time giving him a small treat when you’re done. Both you and your dog will be more relaxed when you are handling his mouth, and your dog will be more comfortable with the idea when he knows there will be a treat when it’s over.

Now that your dog is used to having you handle his mouth regularly, it’s time to start brushing his teeth. Some products that you’ll need to brush his teeth are a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste. The toothpaste has been specially formulated for animals. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. You can find a dog toothbrush and toothpaste at pet stores, large retail stores and of course from your veterinarian. Dogs like the taste of dog toothpaste, and since it does come in different flavors you can find one that your dog loves which will make the job of brushing his teeth even easier.

The process of actually brushing your dog’s teeth is very much the same as brushing your own teeth. If your dog is a large breed, the most comfortable position is on the floor, with your dog in front of you. If you have a small breed or a puppy, simply hold the dog in your lap. When you’re ready to start brushing, lift your dog’s upper lip and brush the teeth in a circular motion, making sure to brush at the base of each tooth where it meets the gum line. Also make sure to brush the back teeth or molars, because these teeth are more likely than the front teeth to develop dental problems. A good idea is to only brush one or two teeth the first few times. As your dog becomes accustomed to teeth brushing, you can brush more teeth each time. To instill the positive aspect of the process, always remember to give your dog a small treat after each teeth brushing session.

For the most part, brush your dog’s teeth twice a week. If you have an older dog with lots of tartar build up, and if he’s never had his teeth brushed before, you should take him to the vet to have them professionally cleaned. Also, feeding your dog dry dog food or hard dog biscuits every day is the best way of preventing tartar build-up. There specially made dog dental bones on the market that help tremendously with preventing tartar build up. These dental chew bones come in various sizes, so choose a bone based on the size of your dog.

Brushing your dog’s teeth needn’t be a big chore, and certainly nothing to fear. Your dog depends on you to make proper health choices for him, and dental care is one of them. Start off slowly and follow the tips mentioned above, and you’ll be able to clean your dog’s teeth with no trouble and your dog will feel great as a result.

Find more dog care and dog health care tips and suggestions at “The Dog Owner’s Handbook”

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