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K9 PREVENTIVE CARE

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dog with toothbrush

When you first get a new puppy, it is best to start to train them to obey commands. One thing that is also good to start teaching your dog is to tolerate having their teeth brushed.

Different types of toothbrushes

There are many kinds of toothbrushes you can use to brush your dog’s teeth. Some dogs do not mind the typical toothbrush, while others will not tolerate that being in their mouth.  If your dog does not tolerate a regular toothbrush, there are finger brushes that you can use.  This is a plastic brush that goes over your finger.  Most all dogs will tolerate this type of brush in their mouth.

How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth: Woman holding finger toothbrush with small tan and black dog in the background

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Many times you can brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week to help keep their breath fresh.  Some dogs tolerate this very well, while others you must slowly introduce them to brushing their teeth.

Slowly introduce them to “doggie” toothpaste and NEVER use human toothpaste, as this can be toxic to a dog if they ingest too much.  Squeeze out a small amount on your finger and let your dog have a taste.

Try these steps if you dog does not tolerate brushing at first:

  1. As they get used to the taste of the toothpaste, use your finger as a brush and brush their teeth with just your finger and toothpaste
  2. After they are used to your finger, you can try a toothbrush with just a little bit of water.
  3. Once they finally get used to the toothbrush in their mouth, you can brush their teeth as you regularly do.

What if my dog does not tolerate toothbrushes?

There will be a few dogs who will not allow you to brush their teeth.  If your dog does not tolerate their teeth being brushed, there are other things that you can do to help keep your dog’s teeth clean.

  • Dental chews: Dental chews are great at helping keep your dog’s teeth clean. *affiliate link

  • Water additives: There are additives that you can put in your dog’s water to help keep their breath fresh. *affiliate link

  • Dental food: Certain dog food companies make dog foods that help remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. Also, many times a hard food will help decrease tartar build-up.

What to look for when picking a dental treat?

When looking for a dental treat, look for treats that have a seal of approval by the Veterinary Oral Health Care (VOHC). http://vohc.org  This seal means that this treat will help reduce tartar and plaque build-up. The VOHC has a list of approved products for dogs and cats.  Their list can be found here: http://vohc.org/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Dogs.pdf This list contains food, chews, water additives, toothpaste and treat that help with tartar and plaque control.

If your dog has extensive tartar, they may need to be professionally cleaned by a veterinarian.  If your dog’s breath smells very bad, make an appointment with your veterinarian to have their teeth evaluated.  Your veterinarian can help you determine the best things to do for your dog’s teeth to help keep them healthy and happy.

Little girl with her dog and a veterinarian examining the dogs teeth

Edited by Aimee Stock

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