Brush up on dog dental care and sparkle two-gether

An overlooked area in your pet’s grooming is usually his oral health. It is time you take care of his pearly whites. Marking our 19th anniversary issue milestone with these useful tips.

Here’s a guide on how to clean your dog’s teeth at home and ensure that his oral hygiene is top-notch.

1. Choose the right toothbrush

Nitya Ramchandran
Nitya Ramchandran

Different types of dog toothbrushes are available in the market. These include conventional-looking ones with extra-long handles to facilitate easy access to the back teeth, finger brushes, and dental wipes. Check different options to find the one your pet is most comfortable with. You can also ask your vet for best recommendations.

2. Always use dog-specific toothpaste only

Your pet cannot spit out the toothpaste after brushing, so you must be extra careful about the ingredients. The toothpaste meant for humans should not be used for brushing your pet’s teeth as it contains ingredients that can be toxic for your pet. Dog toothpaste, formulated using dog-safe ingredients is readily available in the market in many flavors.

3. Help your dog embrace tooth brushing with ease

To make brushing your pet’s teeth a comfortable experience for him, you need to desensitize him to the brush, the toothpaste, and most of all, the handling of his lips and gums. Take it slow and reward him at every step to help him build a positive association with the process. If your pet is food-driven then his favorite treats would be the best reward, while if your pet thrives on attention, some extra pets and praises would be highly appreciated.
Desensitizing your pet is most effective when started in his early years, but it is possible to desensitize an adult pet through consistent training and timing the rewards well.

4. Familiarize him with dog toothbrush from puppyhood

Ideally, your pet should be used to having his mouth handled by a human in his puppy years. It will make brushing his teeth an easy job for you.
Begin by touching his teeth and gums with your bare hands. Lift his upper lip to see his top teeth, then pull the bottom lip downwards so you can see the bottom teeth. Get him used to this before you bring a toothbrush into the equation. Use treats liberally to help him associate positive feelings with having his mouth handled.

5. Slow and steady goes a long way

Once your dog is comfortable with you touching his teeth and lips,introduce him to the toothbrush. Bring the toothbrush in front of him and reward him with a treat. It will let him know that the toothbrush is not something he should be afraid of but rather something that helps him gain access to his favorite yummy treats.

6. One step at a time for the big win

When your dog has successfully made the association between the toothbrush and the reward, proceed to touch his teeth and gums with the toothbrush. Get him comfortable with this step by praising and rewarding him.Next, help your pet get comfortable with the brushing motion. Your goal should be to help your dog get comfortable with each step of the brushing process. You want your dog to enjoy or at least tolerate tooth brushing, not dread that activity.

7. Slowly introduce him to doggo toothpaste

Like the brush, the paste should be introduced to your dog slowly.If your pet seems okay with the brush but hates toothpaste, skip the latter. The mechanical act of tooth brushing without toothpaste will still help keep the teeth clean.

8. Let him lick off the toothpaste

To begin, let your pet lick off some toothpaste from your finger. Most dog-safe toothpaste mimics the flavor of foods that dogs love, so this should be easy. If your pet likes the taste of the toothpaste and licks it up gleefully, you can use the toothpaste with the brush.

9. Make it a part  of his daily routine

Ideally, you should brush your pet’s teeth daily, but if that is difficult, then brushing as frequently as possible is recommended.

10. Quiet time between you and your furry friend

Choose a quiet time for your pet’s teeth brushing session. Ideally, it should be only you and your pet in the room, without boisterous children or other pets.

11. The right spot to clean all the spots

Pick a spot with good lighting for teeth brushing, so you can see what you’re doing. And make sure that the place is not to noisy or uncomfortable for your pet.

12. Remember the sections and go slow

To simplify the brushing process for yourself, think of your pet’s mouth in sections: back right, front right, back left, and front left. Remember that you only need to focus on the outward-facing side of your pet’s teeth.

13. Be comfortable

Get your pet to sit on your lap, with both of you facing in the same direction. This position will help you access all the sections of your dog’s mouth –

14. With love

Apply pet-safe toothpaste to the brush and moisten it with water.

15. Address each section of the mouth individually

 Three horizontal back-and-forth strokes followed by the final vertical stroke that goes from the gumline toward the tips of the crown will do the trick.

16. Explore gently

The back region of your pet’s mouth is an often ignored. However, this is where most of the gunk builds up. Gently pull your pet’s lip at the corner of the mouth backward. It will expose the teeth in the back region, making it easy for you to clean them.

17. No pressure on teeth and gums

Do not apply too much pressure while brushing his teeth. Harshly brushing your pet’s teeth can significantly damage the gums in the long run.

18. No stress

 Your forceful approach can cause your dog to become defensive and aggressive-something you want to avoid at all costs.

19. Dental hygiene

A good dental hygiene routine will take you to wellness, health and togetherness.