Doggie Dental Health - How to Brush Rover’s Teeth

Though it may often go ignored, basic dental care is an essential part of your dog’s health. As with humans, dental problems in dogs can turn into health issues. The bacteria can spread through the body and cause pain, infection, and other serious complications. Instilling the basics of proper dental care into your dog’s grooming routine when he is a young puppy will make him more cooperative as an adult dog. If your dog is extremely resistant to teeth brushing, you may want to consider taking him to a professional groomer for a thorough cleaning on occasion.

Basic Dental Care
Dogs need the same kind of dental care that people do, so it’s best if you’re able to brush your dog’s teeth on a daily basis. Most of the dry dog food, treats, and bones that they love contain ingredients to promote good dental health, and cut down on plaque, tartar, and gingivitis.

If you have a smaller dog, he may need more frequent brushing, since their teeth are closer together and allow for more bacteria and food particles to accumulate. A larger dog may be able to get by with brushings a few times a week, with no ill side effects, but a smaller dog will need more time and attention.

Improper dental care can cause inflamed gums, cavities, abscessed teeth, and even lost teeth. Periodontal disease can cause an infection to spread through the bloodstream, potentially attacking the internal organs, so proper dental care is a must for your dog to remain healthy throughout his life.

Supplies
Try avoiding brushing your dog’s teeth with a human toothbrush or toothpaste. Never give him human products like mouthwash, teeth whiteners, mints, or gum. Human toothpaste contains a product that may actually be toxic to some animals if swallowed, so doggie toothpaste should be used.

You can find toothbrushes for dogs at your local pet supply store, but a better option are small brushes or sponges that fit around your finger and allow you quick and easy access to your dog’s teeth. When you first start introducing your pooch to brushing, he may be very resistant, so try using a piece of gauze tied around your finger to get him used to the process.

Tips & Techniques
When first attempting to get your dog to willingly participate in teeth brushing time, you may encounter some obstacles. Some dogs won’t open their mouth or will try to run away and hide. A good way to convince your dog that teeth brushing will be a positive experience is to dip your finger in something tasty, like broth, peanut butter, or jelly. Once your dog realizes something good is happening, it will lower his defenses and allow you to begin the process of brushing his teeth.

It may take you attempting this every day for a week or so before your dog feels comfortable with the process. Never attempt to restrain him or do it in an aggressive way. This can cause the dog to freak out and has ended up with owners being bitten.

Once your dog allows you to keep his mouth open for ten seconds or longer, he’s ready to have his teeth brushed. At first, keep the brushing sessions short, even if it means you’re only able to brush a few of his teeth. If he sits patiently and allows this, reward him with a treat. Each time you repeat the process, your dog should allow you to keep his mouth open for a longer period of time, until you’re eventually able to brush his entire mouth.

Resistance
Some dogs are very aggressive towards grooming. If the process seems to anger or upset your dog, and he shows signs of fear or aggression when it’s time to brush his teeth, you should discontinue. Seek advice from your vet or a qualified behaviorist; your pet may need to work with a more experienced trainer before he agrees that having clean teeth isn’t such a bad experience, after all.

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