How to Brush a Dog's Teeth

Medium
15 - 20 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

So, your pup just came running over to you and blasted your face with breath so bad it could kill living plants on contact. Did you know your dog's teeth should be brushed on a daily basis, just like yours? No? 

One of the biggest reasons most people give for not bothering to brush their pup's teeth is, "Why do I need to brush his teeth, they don't get cavities." While it is true that dogs don't get cavities in the same way ours do, they do get gum disease that can be painful and lead to the loss of teeth. 

Dog's Perspective

Very few dogs, if any, start out liking it when you try to brush their teeth. In fact, many will high tail it out of the room when they see you coming with a toothbrush and toothpaste in your hand. Remember, your pup doesn’t care about a Hollywood smile or what his breath smells like. But, at the same time, it is your job to take care of your pup's teeth and gums. Not doing so can lead to gum disease and numerous other medical and dental issues. 

The Taste Test Method

Effective
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Step
1
Try this out
Start by going to your local pet supply store and picking up a tube of great tasting doggy toothpaste. At the same time, grab a toothbrush made for dogs. The good news is that doggy toothpaste comes in flavors like beef, chicken and salmon, all of which taste quite yummy to your pup.
Step
2
Avoid human toothpaste
At no time should you use any brand of toothpaste made for humans. These toothpastes typically contain fluoride, which has been found to be toxic to dogs.
Step
3
Taste this
Put a small dab of the toothpaste on your finger and let your pup taste it. You may have to do this for a few days to get him used to it. Then do the same with toothpaste on the toothbrush. You want your pup to feel comfortable with you putting a toothbrush in his mouth.
Step
4
Lift and separate
Lift the upper lip or jowl so that you can see your pup's teeth and gums. Brush each tooth and the gums thoroughly. Be gentle, you don't have to be rough or forceful to get the job done. Make sure you get the inside of his teeth and especially the molars in the back that are so hard to reach.
Step
5
Finish and reward
It shouldn't take much more than 15 to 20 minutes to get the job done. While you are brushing his teeth, keep praising him in a gentle relaxing tone. When you are all done, praise your pup and give him a treat. Repeat this process once a day, seven days a week if you want his mouth to stay healthy.
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The From Day One Method

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Step
1
Go shopping first
Start out by hitting your local pet supply store and buying a puppy toothbrush (yup, you can buy them) and some puppy toothpaste, (yup, they have this too). You may have to try more than one flavor before you find one your pup will like.
Step
2
An early start
Start working with your pup the moment he starts eating solid food. Not only is this great for his teeth, but it lets him get used to brushing his teeth as part of his normal daily life. This will make it much easier for you to brush his teeth when he is older.
Step
3
Hit the trail
Since it is much easier to brush a dog that is nice and calm, start taking your pup for a nice long walk first. Try staying out for at least 30 to 45 minutes as this will help tire him out and calm him down.
Step
4
Off to a slow start
Start out nice and slow, giving your pup time to get used to both the toothpaste and the toothbrush. Do one side at a time. If your pup puts up too much of a struggle at first, stop, give him a night to get over it and try again. In time he will get used to it.
Step
5
Daily brushing for the win
The rest is all about keeping up the good work by brushing his teeth daily. The more you do this, the less your pup will fuss. Keep up the praise while you are brushing and give him a treat when everything is done.
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Caution & Considerations

Human toothpaste contains fluoride and other chemicals that could seriously harm your pup.
Be sure you are using a canine toothbrush, as those made for humans are not made with the head at the right angle for use in a dog's mouth. Because of this, you may not get his teeth properly cleaned.
Take your time and be gentle, you are only trying to clean your pup's teeth and gums, not scour them and make them hurt. If you brush too hard, you may make your dog more skittish instead of calming him down.
Be sure to take your dog in to see his vet for a full oral examination once a year to have his gums and teeth checked for damage.
Your dog's teeth should be brushed every day, this is the best way to keep his teeth and gums clean. But you can also use dental chews, bones, and dental sprays to help out along the way. 

Conclusion

The reality is, that once your pup stops fussing, it should only take you a few minutes to do the brushing. But, those few minutes can make a huge difference to your pup's dental health. If you have an older dog, have the vet check him out and give him a clean bill of health, then get on track with brushing his teeth on a daily basis. It won't take long for both of you to master this very valuable skill. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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