If you have a dog, you’re probably already aware of just how important it is to clean their teeth—especially if you’ve ever been licked by them and smelled their bad breath! But bad breath is just one of the many reasons why you should keep up with cleaning your dog’s teeth regularly, and it’s important to learn how to take care of this hygiene task on your own if possible.
In this article, we’ll give you a few quick tips to help you learn how to clean your dog’s teeth. You can use this information to get started practicing right away! If you have any questions, call Mille Lacs Veterinary Group in Becker at (763) 262-5595, Milaca at (320) 983-6303 or Foley at (320) 968-6677.
The most important first step to remember is simply to start slowly. You may only be able to touch your dog’s teeth with your finger right now, and if so, that’s okay. This is enough for the first few weeks. With time and patience, you can gain enough of your dog’s trust to get them to allow you to brush their teeth.
If your dog is never comfortable with a toothbrush but will let you put your finger in their mouth, you may want to try a finger brush instead. These brushes slip onto your finger and allow you to brush your dog’s teeth by moving your finger back and forth.
Choose the Right Products
Be sure you’re using products designed for dogs. Dog-friendly toothpaste is different from the type of toothpaste made for humans, so you should never use human toothpaste on your pet. There may be chemicals and other additives in human toothpaste that makes it unsafe for your dog.
Dog toothbrushes are also very important in this process. Dog toothbrushes are designed to allow owners to reach the dog’s teeth, including those in the back of the mouth. They have a special shape and design that is ideal for this type of hygiene and cleaning.
A Few Teeth at a Time
Try brushing only a few teeth at a time and focus just on the outer surfaces of the teeth. If your dog sits patiently and lets you brush a quarter of their mouth, that’s enough for one day. You can praise them and come back to the brushing the following day. With time, your dog will learn to let you finish the process in one sitting.
By working a few teeth at a time, you can also make sure you’re giving enough time and attention to each tooth. This will also make it easier for you to tell if anything is wrong with one of your dog’s teeth in the process.
If your dog is uncomfortable having her teeth touched, you’ll probably need to have some help when you brush their teeth. It’s best to ask another adult in your household to assist, but an older child or teen who is familiar with your dog and her body language may be able to help as well.
Distractions can also be useful. Try distracting your dog with the help of someone else holding a toy or treat behind you as you brush.
Brush Often Enough
It’s important to brush your dog’s teeth often. Brushing should ideally be done three times per week, but once a week is better than never. Be sure to ask your vet about whether or not you need to brush your dog’s teeth more often. Some dogs may have dental disease that needs more care, or there may be a specific area of concern in your dog’s mouth that they would like you to pay particular attention to.
Check the Gums
While you’re brushing your dog’s teeth, take time to check their gums. Look closely at them and take note if anything looks different or out of place. Sores on the gums could signify an abscess or a lump on the gum could be a tumor forming.
By learning what your dog’s gums normally look like, you will be better able to tell when their gums look strange, allowing you to keep better tabs on their health and wellbeing throughout their life. This is why it’s so important to incorporate gum checking into your teeth brushing routine with your pet.
Now that you’ve had a chance to learn a little bit more about cleaning your dog’s teeth, you can give it a try for yourself. You can purchase dog-friendly toothpaste and a dog toothbrush from any of Mille Lacs Veterinary Group clinics and just about any pet store, so pick up a set and get started practicing with your dog.
Keep in mind that, even with regular brushing, most dogs will need occasional dental cleanings done by their veterinarian, but may need those cleanings less frequently is you are able to brush at home.
If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to their veterinarian for more information and recommendations.