Taking Care of Canine Teeth
So you’ve thought a lot about how to take great care of your teeth and gums, and have done your best to ingrain good habits in your children, but there’s one member of your family you may not have thought of, your dog. Good oral care is extremely important to your dog’s overall health. Veterinarians estimate that 85 percent of dogs over five years old have gum disease, but fortunately, brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent it. Here’s how to do it:
What You’ll Need
Pet stores carry toothpaste and toothbrushes for dogs that come in various sizes as well as brushes that fit over your finger. Make sure you don’t use human toothpaste, because your dog will swallow a lot of it.
Dip your finger into something he likes, such as peanut butter, and let your dog lick your finger. As he does, gently rub your fingers against the sides of his teeth and lift his lips as you would when brushing. This gets him used to having fingers in his mouth. Once he is, follow these steps to brush:
- Placing one hand over the top of your dog’s muzzle, gently lift his lips. With your other hand, brush or rub a few teeth. Don’t worry about opening his jaw yet. Just focus on cleaning the outer surfaces of his teeth and gums. After only two or three seconds of brushing, stop and release your dog’s muzzle. If he did a great job holding still while you brushed, reward him with a treat.
- Repeat Step 1 two or three times a day for one to two weeks, and slowly increase the time. Eventually you’ll be able to brush the outer surfaces of all your dog’s teeth during a single session.
- Once he’s comfortable, gently place one hand over the top of your dog’s muzzle and open his mouth. With your other hand, reach in and brush a few teeth for a couple of seconds and then release your dog’s muzzle. Give him a treat afterwards and repeat three to five times for three days.
- At this point, you can start alternating between brushing the outer and inner surfaces of your dog’s teeth during brushing sessions. Keep the sessions short and reward your dog with treats after you brush his teeth.
Daily brushing is important for both humans and dogs. Follow these steps to make sure your furry loved ones have healthy teeth, too!
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