How to Safely Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

brush your dog's teeth - dog holding toothbrush in its mouthA dog’s dental health is key to his overall health. Just as tooth decay can be life-threatening to humans, dental problems can lead to systemic infections in dogs. Even if they do not suffer a life-threatening infection, your dog could live for years with tooth pain and you might never know it.

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is well worth the effort. If you’ve never attempted this seemingly silly but very important task before, you might need some guidance.

Here are some tips on safely brushing your dog’s teeth:

1. Get the Right Supplies

You’ll want to pick out the right size, and type, of toothbrush first. Then, pick a dog-safe toothpaste in a flavor your dog tolerates.

Doggie toothbrushes are shaped differently than toothbrushes intended for humans, and you can find an inexpensive one online or at your local pet store. These toothbrushes have a longer curved handle that will allow you to reach your pup’s back teeth.

Never use human toothpaste, even in a pinch. Human toothpaste may contain ingredients that can hurt a dog’s stomach. Choose a canine toothpaste to try. You can buy doggie toothpaste in many different dog-friendly flavors like chicken or even peanut butter. You can also make your own with foods, herbs, and spices that you might have around the house.

2. Pick a Calm Time and a Well-Lit Place

You will definitely benefit from good visibility during this process. Pick a bright place where you’ll have space to maneuver!

Choose a time during the day when your pup isn’t wound-up, and when the house is quiet. Kids and other animals running around will only stress your pup out.

3. Touch Your Dog’s Teeth First

This is a nice, gentle way to get your pup accustomed to having their teeth touched. Just lift the top lip up, and then touch the upper teeth. Then, pull down the bottom lip and touch the lower teeth.

When you’ve completed this step, touch the doggie toothbrush to the top, side, and bottom teeth. Then, reward your pup with a treat for their cooperation!

4. Introduce the Toothpaste and Start Brushing!

Squeeze a little toothpaste onto your finger and let your pup lick it off. If they really don’t like it, you might have to try another flavor.

Next, squeeze some toothpaste onto the brush, and hold back your pup’s top lip and begin brushing their top teeth. Praise them the whole time! Brush the side teeth and then move to the front bottom teeth. Then, brush the bottom side teeth.

You will want to brush both the inside and the outside of each row of teeth. You may have to work up to brushing the inside as you and your dog both get used to their dental care routine.

You really should brush your dog’s teeth every day, but it may take a few weeks or months until he can tolerate daily brushing. Treats, praise, and love will go a long way toward achieving your doggie tooth-brushing goals.