Oral hygiene is often overlooked when it comes to our canine companions, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t important. In fact, brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can reduce their risk of oral diseases as well as ailments related to their respiratory, digestive, and even urinary systems. If you've got a young pup and are looking for some help getting started, or have an older dog that is dead-set against getting his teeth cleaned, here are some helpful tips on making the process a little bit easier on everyone.
#1 – Be Patient
Many dogs are never taught to have their mouths looked at or examined regularly, let alone have a toothbrush stuffed in there to move around. Teaching your dog how to handle this sort of handling can take time and patience, but can easily be done in your living room with your pup’s favorite treats! Whether you need to first start by rewarding your dog for touching his mouth, or you’re able to brush a few teeth at a time from the beginning, there’s really no harm in going too slowly. Working up to brushing your dog’s entire mouth can take time, so if you can only do a few teeth or one side of the mouth a day, take it! Being patient truly has only benefits for teaching this procedure.
#2 – Use Your Fingers
While your fingers may not be as good as using a toothbrush, they can certainly help get any extra plaque and tartar off of your dog’s teeth. Fido might never become accustomed to the way a toothbrush feels, but he might have no problem with his owner sticking her fingers in his mouth. So even if you can’t work up all the way to the normal equipment, there’s nothing wrong with putting a little toothpaste on your fingers and getting the job done that way. Make sure to wear gloves!
#3 – Check With Your Veterinarian
Some people realize they should be brushing their dog’s teeth later in Fido’s life, but it’s never too late to start. However, if your pup has never had a professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian, he may have so much build-up that at-home brushing won’t do very much to help. Check with your veterinarian to see where your dog stands now as far as oral health goes, and discuss a schedule to set up regular brushing at home. Not all dogs need brushing daily, and it can be difficult with less tolerant pups. Talk with your vet about a necessary schedule, and remember that a yearly dental cleaning is still recommended even with home brushings. Your veterinarian can also demonstrate how to brush your dog’s teeth if you’re unsure
#4 – Set a Schedule
With technology able to do just about anything these days, there’s no reason for you to forget to fit Fluffy’s teeth cleaning in! Setting an alarm on your phone or clock can really help you keep track of when you brush his teeth, especially if you aren't going to be doing it every day. It can be easy to forget if you aren't in the habit of it, and waiting too long can lead to him needing a professional cleaning because of too much build-up. Getting on a schedule is a great way to prevent a lapse in your pup’s oral care.
#5 – Provide Dental Chews
A great way to help keep your pup’s oral health in good shape is by letting him chew on safe chews made specifically for dental health. While these shouldn’t be done in lieu of daily to weekly brushing, they can certainly help get the tough tartar and plaque off of their teeth that might not easily come off with brushing. There are also edible treats that can be given to dogs to help keep their teeth nice and shiny. Make sure to never give anything unsupervised, and know that no chews are indestructible. But with safe, observed chewing, dogs really tend to enjoy this way of cleaning their teeth!