Caring for our pets is a full-time job, especially if we want to keep them looking and feeling their best at all times. Even the most low-maintenance of pups need regular grooming in order to stay clean and healthy. And for many busy pet parents, canine dental care is not always a top priority and tends to be forgotten about more often than not.
As humans, we understand how important it is to regularly brush our teeth to ensure we have fresh breath, healthy gums, and a beautiful set of pearly whites. But when it comes to our dogs dental hygiene, many pet owners do not tend to be as concerned. For both humans and dogs alike, without proper dental care, our mouths can become a breeding ground for disease and infections.
The task of brushing your dog’s teeth tends to be easier said than done. Rather than placing the burden of doing it themselves, many pet owners choose to enlist the help of a trusted professional to take care of cleaning their pet’s teeth. And while it is much easier and convenient to be able to drop your pet off for a quick teeth-cleaning, it never hurts to know how to brush your dog’s teeth at home should you ever need to.
What You Will Need
While our dog’s teeth may be strong enough to take a bite out of the toughest chew toys or the crunchiest of bones, when it comes to cleaning, their mouth requires a much more gentle approach. You will need to make sure you have a pet-safe toothbrush that is specifically designed for cleaning your dog’s teeth. You can even find some brushes that have moisturized bristles for an even softer cleaning. A regular, human toothbrush has much stiffer bristles that can be rough against your dog’s teeth and gums and could potentially cause the gums to tear or bleed.
If you do not already have a pet toothbrush on-hand, you can try using a child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, gauze around a finger or a cotton swab. You just make sure that the brush is small enough to get into all of the nooks and crannies inside of your dog’s mouth. Finding the right tool to get the job done will be important, as some dogs will be much easier to handle, while others will be a bit more of a challenge.
As much as we love to share with our pets, you should never use your own toothpaste on a dog. Even alternative teeth-cleaning agents such as baking soda or salt, that might be safe for you to use, can be harmful should your dog happen to swallow or ingest any of it. Instead, use a pet-safe toothpaste with a flavor you know your pup will love.
There are now so many dog-friendly options to choose from, such as bacon, turkey, ham and even salmon-flavored toothpaste. So before getting started, let your pet have a taste of what’s in-store with a little flavor sample to entice their palette. The more they enjoy the flavor, the more likely it is they will be cooperative throughout the cleaning process.
How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
So, how do you brush your dog’s teeth at home? After preparing your pet-safe toothbrush and toothpaste, make sure your dog is in a comfortable position for the cleaning. Whether they are laying down or sitting up, try to make sure you are both in a position that will be comfortable. Once both you and your pet are situated, lift up your dog’s lip to expose the outside areas of their gums and teeth.
Then, begin gently cleaning the gums and teeth using the same motions as you would to brush your own teeth. Depending on your dog, they may allow you to really get in there and give them a deep clean, while others may not be as willing. If your dog becomes restless, be sure to focus on the main areas inside of their mouth that require the most attention. If you notice plaque building up in certain areas or the teeth becoming yellow or brown, try your best to remove as much tartar and debris as possible.
After you’re done cleaning, give your dog a treat for their patience in order to positively reinforce this cooperative behavior. As you begin brushing your dog’s teeth more often, they will become more familiar with the idea and the process will become much easier. But if you do find yourself struggling to effectively clean inside your dog’s mouth, opt for a different cleaning tool or toothpaste next time. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your pet in order to get the job done!
How Often Should You Brush?
So, how often should you brush your dog’s teeth? In an ideal world, your dog’s teeth should be cleaned at least once a day. But if you’re a pet owner that does not have the time for round-the-clock cleanings, try to keep up with a weekly cleaning to start. This will help to keep your dog’s mouth fresh and clean in-between their professional appointments.