How to Brush Your Dogs Teeth to Maintain Proper Canine Oral Health

Brushing your dog's teeth should begin once you bring that pup into your home. In order to ward off dental diseases and bad breath, it is imperative that your dog receives proper oral hygiene at home . . .

Just as with humans, brushing your dog's teeth on a daily basis is imperative for good canine dental health.

You as the pet parent can keep your dog's oral health in optimum condition with an at-home dental care routine.

Begin by purchasing a good dog toothbrush or a child's toothbrush will do. Finger toothbrushes are sometimes easier for some pet parents and work well. Sponges and dental pads are also an option though they do not do as good a job. The purpose for them is when the dog already has mouth and gum sores and needs a more gentle approach to at-home oral care.

Pet stores sell a variety of dog toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste as it could upset your dog's stomach. Most veterinarians recommended that you use pet toothpaste, gels, and rinses that contain chlorhexidine, hexametaphosphate or zinc gluconate. Pet toothpaste are meat flavored, making them more acceptable and palatable for the dog.

To begin the brushing process, try 

  • Getting your dog used to the tooth paste. Put some on your finger tip and let your dog get accustomed to the taste. If this taste is not acceptable, try another paste until you find one your dog likes. With every step of this process, as your dog succeeds and proceeds, use a lot of praise. Brushing teeth should not be a chore but a fun and bonding experience for you and your dog.
  • Now put some of the paste on your finger and rub it on the teeth and gums in your dogs mouth. Be patient with your dog, reward him/her every time you succeed and the dog is receptive. You can use a tasty treat reward as well when you accomplish each step and do them often.
  • Now it is time to put the paste on the brush or pad you are going to use and slowly introduce it to the dog's teeth. You may not get much brushing done just yet but the whole process is to get your dog first used to the toothpaste and then the texture of the brush. As he/she accepts the brush, praise and treat.
  • At this point you should be able to actually begin brushing the teeth. Hold the brush in one hand and pull out the dog's lip with the other. Start in the back, then to the front and onto the other side of the mouth. Be sure to talk your dog through the process in a calm tone of voice. If you are not completely successful brushing all the teeth the first time, that is fine.

Try again tomorrow and each day thereafter. Just remember praise and treats when your dog does as expected by you. Our dogs do want to please us and it is a way to enforce what it is we want through treats and praise.

Brushing your dog's teeth is all a matter of routine. It is best to brush daily or every other day. Once your dog gets accustomed to the routine, knowing it comes with rewards and praise, he/she will be begging to have his/her teeth brushed.

There are other things you can do to provide good canine oral care at home. Choose a dry dog food which helps to keep plaque from accumulating on the teeth. A special prescription dog food, endorsed by veterinarians (t/d Hills Science Diet) has proven that pets eating this food have less plaque and calculus build up. Never give your dog table scraps. It not only promotes more plaque and tartar build up but other health issues as well.

There are many chew toys that you can give your dog to tackle plaque problems such as plaque attacker dental toys, ropes, and rawhide chips and bones. Be sure to look for dental chew bones as well that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Always monitor your dog when chewing toys and bones as some dogs are quite aggressive chewers.

There is now available a new water-pik type dental system for dogs. Chlorhexidine is added to the water to kill bacteria in the mouth as the streams of water also removes plaque. Some dogs may not be open to this process. It will take time to get used to the streams of water and turn out to be fun for your dog once they get past the initial shock.

Some natural herbal and homeopathic supplements are available which can help prevent gingivitis and tooth decay as well as improve canine dental health. Some of these supplements that you can check into for your dog are spirulina, horse tail, dandelion, silica (6c), calcium fluoride and calcium phosphate (6c). Speak with your veterinarian in regards to the use of these supplements and the benefits they may have for good canine oral health care.