How to Clean a Dog's Teeth

Medium
15 - 20 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Ohhhh that doggy breath, and those yellow teeth! Does this sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, this is the one part of doggy hygiene far too many owners tend to ignore. The good news – unlike humans, dogs don't have to worry about cavities if their teeth aren't kept clean. But at the same time, they are subject to gum disease that can lead to the loss of their teeth and significant pain. 

You can, of course, pay to have your dog's teeth cleaned by his vet, but this tends to be expensive. With a little practice, you can brush your pup's teeth every day just like you do your own. 

Dog's Perspective

There are some dogs who will run off and hide at the first sign of a toothbrush and toothpaste, while others will sit and let you do the work. Bear in mind that your dog couldn't care less what his breath smells like or if he has Hollywood style bright white teeth. What your pup doesn't know is that failure to take care of his teeth can lead to a variety of oral and overall health issues.  

The Taste First Method

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Step
1
Mmm toothpaste
Start by picking up a doggy toothbrush (yes, they do make it) and a tube of doggy toothpaste (again, yes, they do make that as well). The toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors; it may take a while to find one that your pup will like or at least tolerate.
Step
2
Never use human toothpaste
You should never use toothpaste made for humans as they may contain ingredients that could harm your pup and, of course, he probably won't like the taste. In fact, you should never use any human grooming products on your pup as they could make him sick or cause injury.
Step
3
Sample first
Put a small dab of the toothpaste on the tip of a finger and hold it out for your pup to smell and taste. Give him time to get used to it. If necessary, repeat this until your pup appears to be comfortable with the flavor.
Step
4
Lift and brush
Starting on one side, gently lift your pup's upper lip to expose his gums and teeth. Using the toothbrush and toothpaste, gently brush your dog's teeth and gums in the same manner as you do for your own teeth. Be sure to get the inside of his teeth (he may not like this very much but be patient) and his back upper molars and canines. These areas tend to build up plaque more rapidly than the rest.
Step
5
Reward time
The whole process should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Once you are done, it's time to reward your pup with some play time to positively reinforce the whole brushing experience. The more you can reward him and let him know he has done a good job, the easier it will become to brush his teeth on a regular basis.
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The Early Start Method

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Step
1
Gather up the supplies
Start by going to your local pet store or your vet and pick up a toothbrush made for dogs. These have a head that is angled at 45 degrees. Pick up some puppy toothpaste at the same time. Since most of it comes in meat flavors, try to choose the one you think your pup will like.
Step
2
Start early
The sooner you can start working with your pup and a toothbrush, the better. Puppies tend to be far less fearful of things like this than adult dogs. If you bring your pup up always having his teeth brushed, he will go through his whole life with fresh breath and a happy smile.
Step
3
Exercise first
Since you need a nice, calm pup to brush his teeth, try to schedule your sessions for right after a long walk or play time. This will help your pup to burn off all that excess energy and make him more relaxed.
Step
4
Start slow
Give your pup a taste of the toothpaste to let him get used to the flavor. Then, lifting his lips one side at a time, gently brush his teeth. Go slow at first, giving your pup time to get used to having his teeth brushed. If he balks, stop and try again tomorrow.
Step
5
Keep it up
The rest is all about practice, you should be brushing your pup's teeth on a daily basis. This means you have plenty of opportunities to practice and learn to reach the teeth in the back. Use lots of praise during each session and reward him with a little playtime or engage in his favorite activity to let him know he is doing a good job.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Never use products made for people. Toothpaste made for human use contains fluoride, which can be deadly to dogs.
  • Use a toothbrush made for dogs, those made for people do not have the right angle on the head and may have bristles that could hurt your pup's gums.
  • You should be brushing your pup's teeth on a daily basis, but you can use things like dental chews, dental sprays, and certain toys to help supplement the routine brushing.
  • Be gentle. Not only will being rough startle your pup, but you could end up injuring his gums. On top of this, you may take a dog that would not normally mind having his teeth brushed and turn him into one who refuses to comply.
  • Even if you are brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis, you should still take him to his vet for an annual cleaning. During this time your pup will be under anesthesia so that the vet can thoroughly clean his teeth, remove all plaque, and give his teeth and gums a thorough inspection for signs of damage or infection that must be treated. 

Conclusion

If you have any questions at all about the condition of your dog's teeth or how to take care of them, be sure to talk to his vet. He can give your pup a complete dental exam, clean his teeth, and show you how to brush his teeth at home. It might take a little time and practice to master brushing your pup's teeth, it will be time well spent. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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