Learning how to clean your dog’s teeth at home is the first step you need, to take to care for his dental health. It’s quite easy if you have just brought home a new puppy. But if you already have an adult dog, then the teeth cleaning process will be much easier provided he is tolerant of the process. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly not only gets rid of bad dog breath, but also prevents dog plaque and tartar buildup. Poor dental hygiene in dogs can result in:
- Irritation and bleeding of gums.
- Loss of teeth.
- Damage to the kidney, heart and liver.
- Aggression and other behavioral issues.
Dog teeth cleaning doesn’t need to be an unpleasant experience. It will take some time for you and your dog to get used to the teeth brushing routine. And if done the right way, it can be an fun activity for both of you. Making teeth cleaning a positive experience for your dog is the most important factor.
If the dog enjoys the toothpaste and is comfortable with the sensation of dog toothbrush in his mouth, he’ll be happy to let you brush away. A list of various dental products to clean your dog’s teeth is available here.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth at Home
1. Start from an early age. Young puppies learn quickly.
It is important to learn how to clean your dog’s teeth from the moment you bring him home. This is essential for puppies so that they will accept teeth cleaning as adults. Cleaning your dog’s teeth is similar to cutting their nails.
You must start from an early age in gradual steps. Remember, you need to make the process positive for the puppy from the beginning or your puppy will develop an aversion to having you handle his mouth.
2. Develop a routine with your dog and stick to it.
Find out the best time to clean your dog’s teeth that is convenient for both of you. Choose a time of day when your dog is most relaxed and the house is quiet. This will create a peaceful and stress free environment. Try to keep brushing sessions short and positive.
Only brush his teeth twice a week initially and slowly work up to brushing the teeth daily.
3. Have the right equipment ready.
Be prepared and have all the tools necessary to begin cleaning your dog’s teeth. This is usually just a dog toothbrush and toothpaste, but there are some other tools like tooth scraper that can be used too.
Dog toothbrush comes in different shapes and sizes. Make sure you select the right size toothbrush for your dog. Dog toothpaste also comes in a variety of flavors. Try to pick a flavor of dog toothpaste that will be most appealing to your dog.
If you wish to choose a more natural way, you can use coconut oil. Cleaning your dog’s teeth with baking soda is not recommended because of its unpleasant taste.
4. Make your dog feel comfortable.
Try not to make your dog feel threatened during the process. Do not hold your dog down or hover over them. This will make him feel frightened and more likely to resist (and probably bite!) you during the teeth cleaning process.
Sit quietly beside your dog or kneel next to them. If your dog seems upset, then it is best to try again another time. Slowly work on getting your dog to accept teeth cleaning. Never force it.
5. Let them adjust to sensation of getting their mouth handled.
Start regularly handling your dog’s mouth as long as it is safe. Praise them if you are allowed to open their mouth or move the lips. Be gentle and slow so your dog does not feel nervous. Work up to running your fingers along their teeth and gums.
Try to teach your dog to allow you to clean his back teeth by pushing your fingers far back between their cheek. This will get them used to the unnatural feeling and make them more likely to accept a dog toothbrush. Gradually introduce the dog toothbrush and praise your dog for a job well done.
Offer a bit of the dog toothpaste to your dog on your finger. If they lick it readily, this means they enjoy the flavor and will be more likely to accept brushing. If they turn their nose up, they may not enjoy the smell or taste. This can make the process more difficult.
Consider a different flavor if this is the case.
7. Begin brushing gently.
After applying the toothpaste, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the teeth. Using a gentle circular motion, brush along the teeth. This process is very similar to brushing our own teeth. Use a systemic approach and work front to back, then top to bottom. Learn how to clean your dog’s back teeth to target the areas where plaque buildup is common.
Some light bleeding may occur, which is fine.
If the gums bleed excessively, then you may be applying too much pressure or there may be significant issue with gum disease. Consult your veterinarian if this occurs.
8. Focus more on the problem areas.
Dogs are not prone to cavities like us, but they still need some cleaning in order to maintain oral health. That’s why it is important to know how to clean your dog’s teeth properly.
While brushing, you should brush all of the dog’s teeth. But more focus should be given on areas in the mouth prone to most dog plaque and tartar buildup. These are typically along the gum line toward the back teeth. You will not be able to eliminate the dog plaque after just a few brushing sessions. Reducing the tartar buildup on dog’s teeth generally takes several weeks before noticeable results occur.
If at any point in time, while you are learning how to brush your dog’s teeth, they seem uncomfortable or scared, stop immediately.
Learn to read your dog’s body language so you know when they are unhappy.
Never force your dog to allow you to brush his teeth.
Training your dog to accept teeth cleaning can take time. Be patient and your dog should learn to enjoy having his teeth cleaned.
10. Remember to be very positive and gentle. Force isn’t going to work.
Stay encouraged while learning how to clean your dog’s teeth. Make the dog feel comfortable and praise him often. This process requires time and patience. Always finish off with a reward. After you are finished cleaning your dog’s teeth, give him his favorite treat.
Offer lots of praise and affection to your dog throughout this process.
How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
It is not just about how to clean your dog’s teeth, but also when and how often to clean them. It is important to choose a time when your dog is calm and relaxed. Perfect time for this is after a playing or exercising session. He will hopefully be tired and make the process easier.
Try to brush your dog’s teeth once everyday if possible. This way your dog will get used to the process faster and start enjoying it eventually. Also, cleaning teeth every day will remove the dog plaque before it has time to mineralize into tartar.
Due to negative experiences, behavior issues, or pain, some dogs will not tolerate having their teeth cleaned. Do not ever attempt to clean your dog’s teeth if you feel as though you may hurt him or he may bite you.
Consider products that do not require you to manually clean your dog’s teeth. You can learn how to clean your dog’s teeth with a microfiber finger brush or just a cloth.
You can also give your dog chew toys or rawhide. Although they help in scraping off tartar, they are not an alternative to dog teeth brushing. There are also several prescription dog foods that you can try. You can find a list of these dog foods here.
Having your veterinarian safely assess your dog’s dental health is also an option in this case.