How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

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Pet Dental Health Month is a great time to learn about the health benefits of proper oral care for pets!

As caring pet owners, we do all we can to keep our pets happy and healthy. However, dental care is an important part of our pets health care that is often overlooked. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that a dog's teeth be brushed daily. Poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth loss, Periodontal disease, and even more serious health issues such as bacterial infections in major organs such as the heart or lungs. Periodontal disease is one of the leading health concerns in dogs.

Brushing your dog's teeth might sound like a daunting task, but it isn't really all that difficult. Make brushing your dog's teeth part of your daily grooming routine. Start by keeping the brushing sessions short and pleasant for your pooch. You don't want your dog to associate tooth brushing with anything negative, so stay calm and be liberal with the praise!

10848355_1516848941926889_1479598734_nGetting Ready:

First, you'll need your supplies. There are a number of different styles of pet toothbrushes you can buy, or you can simply use a child size soft bristle tooth brush. Buying toothpaste with a pleasant (for example, chicken or peanut butter) flavor can make your dog more excited about his or her dental health.

Make sure to use pet toothpaste, as dogs can't rinse and spit after brushing the way that humans can, and swallowing human toothpaste can make your pup sick. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of toothpastes and brushes. Find the combination that works best for you and your pet!

How to brush your dogs teeth:

  1. The first step, after you have all of your supplies, is to get your dog use to being touched around his or her mouth. Gently touch around your dogs mouth, open his/her mouth, and touch the teeth. Not only does this help your dog get ready to start getting his/her teeth brushed, but it will also help make things a lot easier if you or your vet ever needs to look inside your dogs mouth.
  2. Get your dog used to the taste of the toothpaste. Put a bit of toothpaste on your finger and let your dog lick it off. Praise him/her and act like the toothpaste is a treat. Within a few days, your dog will start looking forward to getting his/her tasty new treat.
  3. Next, instead of letting your dog lick the toothpaste off your finger, gently lift your dogs lip and press your finger, with toothpaste on it, against your dogs teeth and gums. If your dog is comfortable with that, you can start to move your finger around against his/her teeth in a way that mimics a toothbrush.
  4. Now introduce the toothbrush. Put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, much like you did with your finger, and let your dog lick it off. Eventually, repeat step 3 only with the toothbrush. Don't worry yet about doing a good job at brushing your dogs teeth, just work on getting your pet use to the feeling of the toothbrush in his/her mouth.
  5. Start brushing! Concentrate on the areas along the gum line, and especially pay attention to the back and canine teeth, as they are often the teeth that start to develop tarter first. Brush in small circular motions. You can start by just brushing for a few seconds, but as your dog gets more used to and comfortable with the procedure, you can work up to spending about a minute a day brushing your dogs teeth.

If you follow these steps, your dog will be well on the way towards having a healthy smile!