It is estimated that 85% of dogs over 5 years old suffer from periodontal disease. That’s a huge number! This disease can become very serious and threaten the overall health of your dog. The good news is that it’s very preventable. All you have to do is brush your dog’s teeth!
Frequency of Brushing
Ideally, it’s best to brush your dog’s teeth daily. That can be a bit challenging, particularly if you have a reluctant dog or multiple dogs. At the very least, try to brush your dog’s teeth at least a few times a week.
If you have a smaller dog or a brachycephalic breed pooch, they may need more frequent brushing. Their teeth tend be more crowded which allows for more plaque and bacteria build up.
What You’ll Need
1. A toothbrush that will work for both you and your dog. You’ll want to use a toothbrush that is made for a dog, rather than a human toothbrush. The bristles are specially angled for a dog’s mouth and much softer. You can find dog toothbrushes at your local pet store. They sell standard toothbrushes that mimic human brushes as well as small, thimble type toothbrushes that fit on your finger. You can also use special dental sponges or clean gauze wrapped around your finger.
2. Doggie toothpaste. Be sure to use dog toothpaste and not human toothpaste. Human toothpaste can be harmful to your dog’s stomach. Dog toothpaste comes in many flavors, so you’ll want to get one that appeals to your pooch.
(To keep up the routine when you're traveling with your dog, don't forget to pack these items because you're not likely to find them in pet friendly hotel vending machines!)
Steps to Brushing
1. Find the right time. It’s best to brush your dog’s teeth when they are relaxed and calm. I like to brush my dog’s teeth just before bedtime when they are winding down and chillin’.
2. Get into position. Both you and your dog need to be comfortable. It’s best to be sitting down or kneeling in front of your dog…rather than standing or hovering over them. This should be perceived as a pleasant and bonding experience to your dog, not a threatening one.
3. Ease into it. If your dog is not used to you touching his gums then that is where you should start. Gently rub your finger along his gums and teeth. This will help him get comfortable with this new sensation. Depending on your pooch, he may be fine with this right away or you may need multiple practice sessions to make him more comfortable.
Allow your dog to get investigate the toothbrush and paste. Let him sniff the toothbrush and lick some toothpaste off your finger and the toothbrush. With my dogs, the tasty toothpaste is what makes them stick around when getting their teeth brushed!
4. Time to brush. Once your dog is used to you touching his gums, the brush and toothpaste, it’s time to brush! Gently lift your dog’s lip just enough to slide the toothbrush in. Start with the front teeth and work your way back. It’s important to gauge your dog’s anxiety and comfort level. If he is upset, don’t force this on him. . Give him time to get used to it. Stop and try again later. It’s important that your dog perceives this as a positive experience. Be patient, it may take your dog a little time to ease into this. If your dog is okay, proceed with brushing. Be sure to focus on the plaque and the gum line. Unlike humans, there is no need to rinse after brushing, however, some dogs do like to sip some water afterwards.
5. Postive Vibes. It’s important for you to be relaxed and not to stress. Your dog is an energy magnet and will pick up on your vibe and cause him stress as well. Talk to your dog and give him lots of praise during this whole process. And always end on a high note, by rewarding him with his favorite treat or toy and lots of lovin’!
Always check with your vet if you notice any areas of concern while brushing your dog’s teeth.
The more you brush your dog’s teeth, the more comfortable they will be with. So be patient and don’t give up. Your dog’s health depends on it!
Check out this fun video of me brushing my other two pooches teeth!