What’s that smell? When your dog leans in to give you a kiss, do you ever think to yourself, “peeeeee-yoouuu”! Well, stinky breath is one sign that you need to take better care of your dog’s teeth!
A few months ago, I shared an article detailing how poor oral care can impact your dog’s overall health and well-being. In case you missed it, the read highlights everything from bad breathe, plaque, tartar, gingivitis, heart disease, liver damage, and compromised kidney function.
Here’s the really bad news. According to Dogs Naturally, more than 70 percent of dogs and cats will suffer from periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by the time they’re just two years old.
Now for some good news—you can do something about it!
Daily teeth brushing is one of the best ways you can keep your pup’s teeth pearly white! I promise it’s not a time-consuming task. But spending a few minutes each day to show your canine kid’s teeth a little TLC will provide him many benefits throughout his lifetime.
While I’ve talked about the importance of brushing your dog’s teeth before, I have never actually shared a step-by-step guide for how to do it. So here it is!
What You’ll Need
Special Canine Toothpaste
This is very important—never use your personal toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Most human teeth cleaning products include ingredients that are harmful to your pooch. Take fluoride, for example. It’s poisonous to dogs. Instead, pick up a formula that is designed exclusively for pets. They usually come in dog-friendly flavors, such as poultry, malt, or mint, and you can find the tubes at your local pet store or online! Here is a top-rated dog toothpaste on Amazon (and it’s the one that I use):
You’ll notice in the step-by-step breakdown below that I recommend brushing your dog’s teeth with a gauze pad first. This is a little less intimidating for your pooch than a traditional finger brush or pet toothbrush with soft bristles.
Dog Finger Brush and Soft Bristles Toothbrush
A finger brush is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a little toothbrush that goes over your finger. Here’s a pack on Amazon that even comes with storage cases:
Or you can use a toothbrush that resembles a traditional toothbrush. Canine toothbrushes are shaped and angled specifically for a dog’s mouth. They come in a variety of sizes. For little dogs, I love THESE Vibrec brushes (they’re the ones I use on my toy Poodle and Chihuahua).
For larger dogs, you may want to opt for a duel-head brush that offers a large head on one side and a small head on the other. You can switch sides depending on which part of the mouth you’re trying to reach!
How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
1) Get Your Dog Used To His Lips Being Touched
Before you jump right into brushing your dog’s teeth, spend a few days gently massaging his lips. Simply rub your fingers in a small circular motion across his gumline and teeth area. You don’t need to do this for a long period of time—just once or twice a day for about 10-15 seconds.
2) Introduce The Toothpaste
Toothpaste’s texture is unlike anything your dog has eaten before. So he needs a little time to get used to it. Start by placing a very small amount of pet-formulated toothpaste onto your finger and let your dog lick it off. If he doesn’t seem interested then gently dab a very small amount of it on his lips. Do this for a few days in a row.
Not only will this step help your pooch get used to the texture of toothpaste, but also the taste! As I mentioned earlier, there are several different pet-toothpaste flavors. If your dog doesn’t seem to like the toothpaste you’re offering, I recommend trying another flavor.
3) Introduce The Gauze Pad and Brushes
Now that your pooch is used to toothpaste, it’s time to introduce the tools you’ll need to actually clean. Start by showing your dog a gauze pad—let him smell and investigate it for a moment. Once he’s familiar with it, lift his lip to expose the outside surfaces of his gums and teeth and wipe them with the gauze.
Once your pooch seems comfortable with the gauze pad, move on to the finger brush and/or soft bristle toothbrush. Repeat the same process—first allowing him to smell the brush and then pretending to actually brush the teeth.
4) Get Brushing For Real
It’s finally time to brush your pup’s teeth!
Start by lifting his lip to expose the outside surfaces of his gums and teeth. Using your tool of choice (gauze, finger brush, or toothbrush), make gentle, small, circular motions. This is similar to how you would brush your own teeth.
Along with brushing the front teeth, make sure to get your dog’s back teeth since those are the dirtiest!
When you’re brushing, focus on the outsides of your pet’s teeth—that’s where the most tarter and plaque build up. Veterinarians say the average canines won’t allow us to brush the inside surface of his teeth, but that’s okay. When your dog licks his lips after you’re done brushing, he will naturally move some of the toothpaste to the inside surface.
5) Don’t Rush & Stay Calm
When you first start brushing your dog’s teeth, don’t rush the process. If your dog is only comfortable with getting a few teeth brushed at a time then only brush a few at a time! You can always break your brushing into sessions—cleaning a few in the morning and a few at night.
Once you finish brushing your dog’s teeth, don’t forget to offer lots of praise and reward!
Dog Breeds Prone To Dental Problems
- Chinese Crested
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
While some dog breeds are more prone to periodontal disease than others, it’s important to clean your fur kid’s teeth regardless!
Tips To Make The Brushing Process Easier
- Start as young as possible!
- Stay consistent. Daily brushing will eventually become a normal part of your dog’s routine.