How to Groom a Large Dog's Teeth

Medium
15 - 20 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Your big ol' dog runs up to you, jumps up on your shoulders, and then tries to kill you with his doggy breath. 

Sound familiar? 

If it does, you probably aren't doing your part to take care of your pup's oral hygiene. While dogs are not subject to cavities like humans, their teeth and gums still need good care if you want to avoid your pup having problems with gum disease. Gum disease can lead to serious pain and loss of teeth. With a little practice, time and patience, you can learn to brush your pup's teeth and he can learn to have it done. 

Dog's Perspective

Do you think your dog cares if his teeth are yellow or that his breath could drop a T-Rex at 30 feet? Not likely, but what he will care about is if his gums become painful and he starts losing teeth. The thing is, your pup doesn't understand this. The only thing he understands is that you are sticking a toothbrush laden with toothpaste in his mouth. 

The Fingertip Brush Method

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Step
1
Shopping first
Time to go on a shopping spree to the local pet supply store. You will need a tube of canine toothpaste, a fingertip toothbrush (looks like the tip of a glove with a toothbrush on it), and a regular canine toothbrush. You may find you need to try more than one flavor of toothpaste before you find one your pup actually likes.
Step
2
Mmm... yummy
Place a small dollop of the toothpaste on a fingertip and let your pup sniff at it. Then give him the chance to lick it off your finger so that he can taste it. You may need to do this a couple of times, it won't take long before he finds out he likes it.
Step
3
Introduce the finger brush
Place the fingertip brush on an index finger and add a dab of toothpaste to it. Introduce this to your pup. Don't worry about brushing at first. Just let him get used to the taste and feel of the toothbrush and toothpaste.
Step
4
Work those teeth and gums
Using the finger brush, go over every tooth, working in circular motions making sure to get the gums as well as the molars that are almost in his throat. Keep the early session short and work your way up to being able to do all of his teeth and gums in a single sitting once a day.
Step
5
Inside surfaces too
Make sure you get the insides of his teeth and gums as well. Remember, the better you take care of his teeth and gums now, the longer his moth will stay healthy. Take your time, be thorough, and most of all be patient at your pup learns to enjoy having his teeth brushed.
Recommend grooming method?

The Taste Test Method

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Step
1
Starting out right
Getting the right toothpaste is half the battle when trying to teach your pup to let you brush his teeth. There are many different kinds of canine toothpaste; you may have to try several of them before you find one that your dog actually likes the taste of. The meat-flavored varieties are among the most popular. Let your pup taste each one if you are lucky it won't take more than one or two types. Your pup will let you know when you find the right one.
Step
2
A slow start
The younger you can start brushing your pup's teeth the better. No matter what age your dog is when you get around to brushing his teeth, always start off nice and slow. Let him smell the toothpaste on the brush.
Step
3
Front teeth first
One good way to get off to a good start is to start by working on his front teeth. Do the outside for a couple of days, then move on to doing the insides. Be sure to work on cleaning his gums at the same time.
Step
4
One side at a time
Work on the top and bottom molars on the side first, just for a couple of days until your pup seems comfortable with it and then move on to the other side. Just like you do with your teeth use a variety of motions to reach all surfaces of his teeth and gums.
Step
5
The last teeth
We saved the best for last, those hard to reach back molars. But, you have to get them or risk gum disease far back in his mouth. You may have to wait for a few weeks until your pup is very comfortable with having his teeth brushed every day before he will let you brush those teeth.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Be sure any dental care products you buy are vet approved for use with dogs.
  • Never use any dental care products made for humans as they contain ingredients that may be toxic to your dog.
  • Your dog's teeth should be brushed every day, right after his last meal of the day is a great time to do so.
  • Always brush gently, too much pressure can damage his gums. But at the same time, too little pressure may not get his teeth and gums clean.
  • You can use dental chews along with brushing to help keep his teeth and gums healthy.
  • Be sure to take your dog to see the vet once a year for a complete dental exam and professional cleaning. This is done while your dog is anesthetized so that the vet can clean without fear of being bitten. He will be able to remove any plaque or tartar buildup. 

Conclusion

It's your job as your big dog's human to take care of his every need (just don't tell him that). This includes his teeth and gums. While dogs don't get cavities like we do (lucky them), they do get gum disease that can cause them to lose their teeth and suffer a great deal of pain. While it might take a bit of practice to get both of you to a point at which both of you are comfortable with the entire process. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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