Brushing your dog’s teeth is essential to keep his mouth healthy and his jaw strong.
Periodontal disease can not only leave to tooth decay but can also cause a variety of health issues with your pup, so it’s important to learn how to brush his teeth early.
Unfortunately, not all dogs make this task easy on their owners.
Before you start brushing your dog’s teeth it’s important to get him used to having your hand in and near his mouth. Otherwise, your fingers will look like they came out of a war zone after the first go around. Start by using your fingers to gently caress in inside of his mouth, including the gum and touching the tongue. Take a few days to practice this with sessions in the morning and afternoon.
Dogs love anything that tastes great, so avoid the boring old standard taste and opt for bacon or beef flavored instead. You’ll figure out pretty quickly which tastes your dog loves the most, which is probably the one you should use to brush his teeth.
Start With Your Fingers
Brushing too vigorously can cause pain and leave a bad impression on your dog right out of the gate, making it next to impossible to get him to agree to a brushing ever again. Start with your fingers as the brush rather than something with bristles. It’s softer on his gums and allows you to build up to something a little more firm.
Use Gentle Strokes
When you do finally move up to an actual toothbrush, be sure you use gentle movements along the gum line. Brush at an angle, just like in your own mouth, and don’t press so hard you cause the gums to bleed. They even have sponges for the job if brushes are too rough to handle.
Focus on the Back
The first signs of tartar in a dog’s mouth generally appear in the back because those teeth don’t engage in as much action as the ones located near the front. They don’t use them to chew quite as often and, since they’re more square and flat, they don’t rub up against bones and chews the same way canines might. Take extra care to brush those in the back of the mouth so they stay as clean as the ones in the front.
If your dog is having trouble adjusting to you poking around in his mouth, consider making it into a fun game. After brushing a small area of the mouth, toss him a treat for good behavior. He’ll associate the brushing with treat time and might be more apt to let you do your thing.
Some dogs will never enjoy brushing no matter how easy to try and make it for them. When all else fails, a quick brushing is better than no brushing at all. Get in there, keep him distracted if you can, and try and clean for at least 30 seconds if he’ll let you.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.