How to Get Your Dog Used to Brushing Their Teeth
Whether you have a puppy, adult or senior dog, tooth brushing is vital to their health and wellbeing. In addition to preventing bad breath, plaque, tartar and gum disease, routine brushing can also help with other oral problems. Getting your pet used to the process of brushing their teeth can be difficult, but it’s not too late!
It’s always a good idea to begin brushing when they’re young, as it’s easier for dogs to accept it. But it’s not impossible for an older dog to get used to it, too.
If your dog isn’t too frightened by the idea of having their teeth brushed, it can be a great way to bond with them and give them a fun activity in the process. The key is to take your time and make the experience positive for them.
Start with their front teeth and work your way back to their molars. Once they’re comfortable with the brush, start working on their tongue and insides of their mouth, too. If they become aggressive or if you can’t get to all of their teeth, stop and wait for them to settle down.
When you do, reassure them with praise and a dental-friendly treat at the end of each session. Talking to them throughout will also help them get used to the process.
Try to find a comfortable spot for you and your dog that’s free of distractions. This will make it easier for you both to focus on the task at hand and avoid becoming distracted or stressed.
Before you begin brushing your dog’s teeth, pick out a toothbrush that’s made specifically for dogs. This will be softer than an average human toothbrush and it’s important that the brush doesn’t have sharp edges. The best ones have soft bristles and a long handle to allow you to reach the back teeth.
Once you have your chosen brush, add some toothpaste to it and let your dog lick it off. This will help your dog get used to the texture and taste of the toothpaste, as well as make them more likely to let you brush their teeth in the future.
While it’s not necessary to use a dog-specific toothpaste, you should definitely choose a flavour that they’ll enjoy. Most pet toothpastes are flavored to smell and taste like poultry or other things that dogs would find delicious, so they’ll be more receptive to your efforts at brushing their teeth.
When you’re ready to begin brushing their teeth, gently lift their upper lip to open their mouth and use your toothbrush to clean the surface of each tooth. Then angle the brush at a 45-degree angle so it massages the gum line and removes plaque, Dimock suggests.
Then, brush each tooth and the sides of their mouths to remove food debris. Once your dog is able to tolerate this, move on to the bottom and top front teeth. Repeat this exercise until you’ve cleaned their entire mouth.