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2 steps to brushing your dog’s teeth

Tooth brushing has to be carried out regularly to be effective, ideally on a daily basis. Dogs like routine so it’s important to do this at a regular time each day and make the process as enjoyable as possible. Use lots of verbal encouragement and give praise whenever performing any oral hygiene measures.

Equipment

The benefit of tooth brushing comes from the mechanical action of the brush on the teeth. Various brushes and sponges are available, depending on the health of your dog's gums and the size of his mouth. Toothbrushes designed for pets are extremely soft and have a unique shape that makes brushing easier. Finger toothbrushes are sometimes easier to use on small breed dogs that have smaller mouths. For some dogs, beginning with dental sponge or pad may be helpful since they are more pliable; however, they do not provide the mechanical cleaning action that tooth brushes do.

It is important to use dog specific toothpaste, preferably a highly palatable one as the human alternative may contain ingredients which can upset your dog’s stomach. Dog toothpaste which contains the active ingredients chlorhexidine, hexametaphosphate, or zinc gluconate can be beneficial and fluoride treatments are recommended for dogs with periodontal disease, always ask your veterinarian which one is best in your dog’s case.

Step 1

 Initially just allow your dog to play with the toothbrush and paste and get used to the idea of having it in their mouths. Place a little tooth paste on your finger and allow your dog to lick it as a treat, then smear a little on their gums and allow them to lick it off. You need to get your dog used to the texture and taste of these items, especially the bristles on a brush, so let your dog lick the toothpaste off of the brush so he gets used to the texture. Gradually encourage your dog to enjoy having their mouths handled with verbal encouragement.

Step 2

Place your hand on their muzzle, gently push the lip in between the teeth, this gently holds the mouth open. It also helps stop the chewing on the toothbrush that many dogs do to start off with. Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Gently move the brush back and forth. At first, you may just want to brush one or both upper canine teeth. You do not need to brush the inside surface of the teeth. Increase the number of teeth you are brushing as the dog becomes familiar with the treatment.

Remember to always reward your dog with lots of praise during and after tooth brushing. Tooth brushing is a vital part of your pet's preventive health care. Dental disease is the most common non-infectious disease of dogs, helping to prevent it will not only help prevent tooth abscesses, bad breath and loss of teeth, but will also help prevent heart, kidney and other internal diseases in later life.