My dog won’t let me brush his teeth. What should I do to keep his teeth clean and healthy?
If your dog is not a fan of teeth brushing, don’t give up hope yet! From a dog’s perspective, having his/her teeth brushed is not a natural thing. We shouldn’t expect that all dogs will take to teeth brushing easily — some just have to get used to the idea!
Training your dog to the toothbrush is no different than leash training. It takes time, patience and ensuring that each step is perceived as enjoyable and non-threatening by your pet. Be sure to load on the praise and don’t move to the next step unless your dog seems comfortable with it.
The goal is to brush the outside surface of teeth in area where teeth and gums meet. Your brushing efforts should only last for one to two minutes, then discontinue the session. Keep it fun and reward your dog along the way!
How to brush your dog’s teeth
- Start by rubbing your bare finger along the gums. Do this for a few seconds and build up to longer periods of time.
- Add some dog enzymatic toothpaste to your fingertip and massage gums. Experiment with different flavors of pet toothpaste (chicken, liver, malt, etc), but never use human toothpaste.
- Apply some dog toothpaste to a pet toothbrush and brush outer surfaces of teeth and gums.
Other at home dental options for pets that don’t tolerate brushing, but will allow handling the mouth area, is using a home dental sealant (such as OraVet). This dental sealant can be applied by the finger once a week to provide a preventative barrier for the teeth.
Dental rinses and sprays are available as an anti-plaque step that can be sprayed or wiped on the teeth. Dental treats and diets are another tool that can be helpful in a home dental care plan, but should not be relied on as the sole dental care provided.
Be sure to see your veterinarian regularly for a professional dental prophylaxis. The frequency of recommended cleanings will vary depending on your pet’s health condition, but are typically advised every six to twelve months. The most effective dental plan for your pet is utilizing both professional veterinary cleanings combined with home dental care for your pet.