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Posted on 04-06-2014

How Do I Brush My Dog’s teeth?

I am often asked by frustrated pet owners for tips on brushing their dog’s teeth. They report that their pet refuses to cooperate or runs away. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. This is especially true if your pet is “food motivated.” The principles of training involve rewarding the behavior you wish to continue, ignoring the behavior you wish to stop. In other words, give a reward just like you did when they went potty for the first time in the backyard!

If your dog is a “chow hound”, waiting with a voracious appetite for dinner, use that moment to gently rub your pet’s teeth and gums with your finger. You don’t need a separate cookie since you have to feed dinner anyway. Feed dinner directly afterwards. After they become more tolerant, use a tooth brush to get the front teeth. After they become used to it over a few days, brush further towards the back teeth, still feeding dinner immediately afterwards. Get the idea? After a few weeks you should have a patient that is starting to figure out tooth brushing means dinner is about to be served. Humans need to brush teeth after they eat because of cavities and dietary sugar. Unless we are really messing up, their diet won’t be high in sugar. Tartar and plaque buildup is my concern and whether you brush before or afterward a meal, it will still be effective.

Remember, when you introduce toothpaste, ALWAYS use pet toothpaste with NO fluoride. You will need to brush your dog’s teeth at least 3 times weekly to make an effect, so don’t pay extra for your pet’s groomer to brush teeth once a quarter!  

Just like we go to the dentist twice a year even though we brush our teeth twice daily, your pet still needs to come see us at least once a year for a professional cleaning.

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