According to the American Veterinary Dental Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association, dental disease is one of the most common and costly health problems for dogs. Dental care using dog grooming accessories is vital to the overall health of your pet.
Here are some things you can do to care for your dog’s teeth at home.
1: Find the right time
Dogs are nocturnal creatures, so brushing their teeth at bedtime is a good idea. It’s easier to manage their behavior and keep them in place when they’re tired.
Consider scheduling it for right before you go to sleep, too—that way, you can make sure your dog doesn’t wake up and wander around while you’re sleeping!
You’ll also need to have some privacy—your dog will probably not enjoy being brushed, so it’s best if you can do this somewhere quiet and where other people or animals won’t be disturbed by the noise or commotion.
2: Gather your tools
You’ll want to have everything ready before starting—this way, you’ll be able to brush your dog’s teeth quickly without having to stop for anything else.
- – A toothbrush (soft bristles)
- – Toothpaste designed for dogs (not children) or baking soda and water mixture
- – A dog-safe water bowl (you can use one from home)
3. Assume the position
Your dog’s favorite position for brushing their teeth is probably lying down, which makes sense—they’re more likely to enjoy what’s happening if they don’t have to hold themselves up. If your dog doesn’t like being brushed while standing, try squatting at their level or sitting on the floor with them.
4. Get their gums ready
Since this is all about getting your dog used to having something in their mouth, you’ll want to start by introducing the toothbrush without any toothpaste on it. So get your brush wet, but don’t put toothpaste on it yet! Then put it in front of your dog’s face and let them sniff at it for a little while so they can get used to the smell and feel of it in their mouth—which will make it easier when you start applying toothpaste later on!
5: Test the toothpaste
Start by testing a small amount of your chosen toothpaste on the dog’s gums. If there is any irritation, discontinue use, and try another brand or flavor.
6: Try the toothbrush
Use a small-tipped toothbrush or fingerpuppy toothbrush. You want something that your dog won’t be able to bite off and swallow, but also something that will fit comfortably in their mouth without being too big or too small for them to manage comfortably on their own.
7: Use a circular motion
Brush using circular motions (not up and down), focusing on removing plaque from around each tooth rather than just brushing along each row of teeth like you would with yourself! When you get to the gums above his upper teeth, lift them up gently with your thumb and index finger so that you can reach all of those hard-to-reach places behind them.
If you’re having trouble getting the right angle, try holding one end of your dog’s mouth closed while they lick themselves clean with their opposite paw.
8: Focus on the plaque
Focus on the plaque buildup in between the teeth —that’s what causes gum disease in humans and animals alike! So focus on getting rid of plaque by brushing away as much as possible before moving on to another section of teeth or gums (if necessary).
If there isn’t any plaque present on your dog’s teeth, then there won’t be any build-up either! Use a dental rinse after each brushing session as well so that once again if any plaque has formed in between cleanings then it will be removed easily (and safely) from their gums and mouth area!
9: Be reassuring
Your dog is going to be scared of this new toothbrush, so it’s important to make sure that you are as calm and reassuring as possible. Remember that your dog understands you more than he does his own instincts, so if you appear nervous and unsure of what to do, he will be too.
10. Get help from someone else in the house
It may seem like a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth yourself if you’re alone with him, but if he’s too nervous or scared, having another person there can really help take the edge off. You could even try taking him outside—the fresh air will help him relax and make this experience less scary for him!
12: Start small and build your way up
If your dog is still very young or has never been brushed before, start by brushing just one tooth at a time until he gets used to it and starts feeling more comfortable with the process (and then move on to two teeth at once). This way, you can build up trust between both of you over time until eventually, everything seems normal again!
11: End on a positive note
When you’re brushing your dog’s teeth at home, it’s important to end on a positive note.
You want your dog to associate the act of brushing its teeth with something positive. Otherwise, they might just decide that you’re some kind of mean person who’s trying to hurt them.
And if that happens, your dog won’t want anything to do with you—and that means no more brushing! So be sure to end on a positive note by giving them lots of love and praise when you’re done.
The Bottom Line
Regular oral hygiene, including brushing your dog’s teeth, is essential for maintaining your dog’s overall health. A lot of this process is going to be trial and error. Every dog will respond differently to the same technique, and you’re going to need to find what works best for your dog. Following up with professional teeth cleaning every six months will also ensure that your dog’s teeth remain healthy and clean – it may even save his life!
Emma Anderson has been involved with dog grooming for the past 15 years and now wants to share her experience and knowledge with others.