How to brush a dog’s teeth, maybe something you have never thought to do or needed to do. But have you ever experienced the whiff of “dogbreath” during a snuggle with your dog. In some cases this can be a periodontal disease and just as it can in humans it can cause bad breath or dental problems
However, you can help avoid this by learning How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth, and by reading this guide you can give it a go.
Do you really need to Brush a Dog’s Teeth?
You have probably seen adverts for dental chews for dogs and think “cant i just toss them one of them every now and again”. There is nothing wrong with these dental chews but they still don’t recreate the cleaning action that dogs would get in the wild from eating bones and raw food. The change of dogs diets to the dry kibble variety means dogs don’t get the tooth scraping action that bones once would have provided.
What Is Canine periodontitis?
As you may know humans can develop dental problems from food stuck between teeth and this happens to dogs to. These particles can develop bacteria and in turn help plaque develop which eventually leads to a layer of tartar on the gum line of the tooth.
Tartar will cause inflammation to the dog’s gum and can lead to bacteria breeding between the tooth and gum then potentially leading to Canine periodontitis.
Canine periodontitis will cause mouth pain to your dog; it can be a cause of tooth loss, mouth abscesses, and bacterial infection, which in extreme cases can affect the dog’s vital organs. Sounds scary but it can be prevented by regualar brushing of your dog’s teeth.
#1 – Getting them used to brushing
The best time to Brush your dog’s teeth will be when they are calm and relaxed. The aim is to work up to brushing daily schedule but this will take time. Even brushing three days a week can make a difference if their mouth is already healthy.
Your dog is not going to be sure about you putting something in or around its mouth that it’s not meant to eat! So time needs to be spent to get them used to your hands being in and around their mouth.
A way of getting them used to this would be getting something they like such as peanut butter. Put a bit on your finger and rub it around in the mouth and on their teeth and gums. They will love this and it will get them used to you moving things around in their mouth. **ENSURE THE PEANUT BUTTER DOES NOT CONTAIN XYLITOL AS THIS IS DEADLY TO DOGS
#2 – Which toothbrush and toothpaste
There is large array of canine-approved dog toothpaste available. Many of the Dog toothpaste has a meaty flavour rather than the minty flavour we are used to.
If your dog likes the taste it’s going to make your job a lot easier!
Never use your own human toothpaste! The fluoride content can be harmful to dogs.
Dog toothbrushes can have longer handles and softer bristles than your normal human tooth brush. They come in a multitude of sizes, so suit most dogs from a Chihuahua to a St. Bernard
Finger brushes can work really well for smaller dogs under 15kg. but for larger dogs, the longer handled variety can give you better reach.
#3 Assume the cleaning position
The most important thing here is to make your dog is comfortable and relaxed. Dogs are probably one of the best judges of body language and if you do anything out of the ordinary they will be onto you! Don’t tower above your dog, or hold them down.
Try sitting in front of or to the side of them to get on the same level as them. Gauge your dog’s anxiety level. If they seems upset (or in our dog Bentleys case suspicious), stop, and try again later.
#4 – Test the Toothpaste
Put some of your newly purchased dog toothpaste on your finger. Let your dog smell and lick the toothpaste from your finger so they can get used to the taste. If in the rare case the dog doesn’t like it you can try a different flavour. Hopefully, they will like one of them. Again as with the peanut butter technique from before move you finger and toothpaste around the mouth until they are comfortable.
#5 – Start using the dog toothbrush
Once your dog is used to you opening and fiddling around in their mouth, start using the toothbrush. Gently lift your dogs upper lip to expose the line of teeth. Angle the tooth brush at 45 degrees to the teeth. This angle will allow the bristles to move along the gum line and gently clear away any build up.
#6 – Use a Circular Motion
It’s important to move the Brush in a small circular motion. As you move the bristles along the gum, you may notice some light bleeding this is not anything to worry about initially. Slight bleeding every now and again is ok. ***Regular bleeding may mean you are using to much pressure or it maybe a sign of gum disease. If you have any doubt contact your vet for advice***
#7 – Concentrate on the Plaque
When you first start the brushing routine just brush a few teeth, then work up to more each day to ensure your dog remains relaxed. Don’t try and brush for more than two minutes as even that is a long time for a dog that’s got better things to be doing!
If your dog is not convinced and is desperate to get away, try small quick brushing sessions starting on the outside of the back teeth, where plaque collects first. If you can get some brushing on the insides it can be beneficial. However, a dog’s coarse tongue does actually help clean the inside of the teeth.
#8 – Reassure your dog
Ensure a relaxed reassuring atmosphere is maintained throughout brushing. Maintain a constant normal tone of talking throughout the process by telling the dog what you are doing. They won’t understand what you’re saying but the tone of your voice will comfort them.
#9 – End on a Positive Note
The last step, presuming your dog hasnt run away or eaten the tooth brush, you have made it to the end. This will be the most memorable part for the dog when you hand them their favourite treat. Eventually they will associate the build up of the brushing session to a reward. Brushing isn’t the only dental care they are chews and treats that help with cleaning.
You can also have regular professional dental cleaning sessions these can probably be advised by your vet.