Brushing your dog’s teeth is an unpleasant task for both you and your dog. But for most dogs it is a necessity. Keeping your dog’s teeth clean can prevent health issues and will help your dog keep good strong teeth even in old age. When I got Pierson in January, I could tell by the shape and newness of his teeth that he was only about a year old. This was confirmed by our vet as well. But because Pierson had been living as a stray for nearly a month and eating god-only-knows-what, his back teeth were filled with gunk and plaque buildup.
Basic Tips to Minimize the Brushing Necessity
I seldom had to brush Sephi and Maya’s teeth because they were good chewers. Help your dog keep his teeth clean by giving him chew toys. You should always supervise your dog when he chews. And be careful about the kind of chew toys you give him. Rawhides and such can be okay so long as your dog only chews on them. I can’t give Maya a rawhide because she eats and swallows it in big chunks.
Another thing you can do to help your pet’s teeth is to feed him hard food. Don’t give him canned food. This soft stuff tends to get stuck in his teeth. And unless you brush your dog’s teeth immediately after he eats, soft food can cause faster tooth decay.
Getting My Dog Used to a Toothbrush
Before brushing my dog’s teeth for the first time, I let them get used to the toothbrush. I would show it to them and let them sniff it. Then I would give them lots of praise so they learned to associate the toothbrush with good things. After a few days, I would put the toothbrush in their mouth, but not brush. Again, I would give praise. Over the course of the next several weeks, I built up to actual brushing. I worked my way up from a couple of seconds to several seconds, and worked my way from the front teeth to the harder to reach back teeth. Yes, my dogs hate it. But over time, Sephi and Maya learned to tolerate it. I am still working with Pierson who has had less than two months experience.
Use Toothpaste for Dogs
Do not use your own toothpaste on your dog. It has ingredients in it which can make your dog sick. Unlike us, we learn to spit out the toothpaste. Toothpaste for dogs is specifically designed so that your dog can swallow it without ill-effect.
Using Positive Reinforcement to Brush My Dog’s Teeth
Always try to make brushing your dog’s teeth as positive of an experience as possible. Try not to give treats as a reward as some dog toothpastes say your dog shouldn’t eat or drink immediately after brushing. Give your dog praise or a non-destructible dog chew toy.
Brushing My Dog’s Teeth Everyday
If you brush your dog’s teeth every day, it will get easier and easier over time. The more you do it, the easier it will get. Once your dog gets used to it, some products (like the product I use) allows you to reduce brushing your dog’s teeth to 1-2 times per week.
The Product I Use
I never had to use toothpaste for dogs for Sephi and Maya. I just used a toothbrush only. But because Pierson’s teeth are so bad, I needed to start using toothpaste. After researching online and visiting a local pet store, I found this great product called Tropiclean FreshBreath toothpaste for dogs. This product says I don’t have to use a toothbrush, just put it in my dog’s mouth. His tongue will do the work of spreading the paste around. But it also says that using a toothbrush can help the product work faster and better.
Another great thing about the Tropiclean toothpaste for dogs is that it is one of the products which says that once my dogs’ teeth are clean, I can reduce usage to 1-2 times per week. Tropiclean toothpaste for dogs is a greenish gel and it is easy to apply. No messy tubes. Not only does it help to reduce plaque and tartar, but it also kills the germs that cause bad breath, plaque, and gingivitis.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is not the most fun you and your dog will have together. But with positive reinforcement and consistency, you can make the experience better for both you and your dog. And once his teeth are clean, you can reduce the number of brushing sessions with a product like Tropiclean.