Like humans, dogs can suffer from poor dental hygiene and develop cavities or tartar. The consequences can be even worse for dogs with heart disease because tartar increases the risk of problems (and yes!).
Dry dog food, hard bones and treats made to promote dental hygiene can help keep your dog’s teeth healthy. But despite regular use of these products, it’s still necessary to brush your dog’s teeth at least once every two weeks.
There are six steps to brushing a dog’s teeth without toothpaste:
- Make brushing a fun experience
- Introduce the toothbrush to your doggie
- Prepare a bicarbonate-based paste
- Going into every nook and cranny with the right gestures
- Rinse your mouth
- Reward him!
Make brushing a fun experience
Brush your dog’s teeth gently, carefully and slowly so as not to frighten your dog; make brushing a fun rather than a scary experience. To do this, don’t grab your dog with force as if you were going to prevent him from running away.
While you’re brushing him, talk to him to reassure him and divert his attention. It’s the same technique as familiarizing him with a pulser. For Jodie, I like to sing silly songs to her and she looks at me with her big eyes. For Mookie, it’s harder and she struggles quickly. The best solution I have found is to talk to my partner and she starts looking at her and listening to us.
Introducing us with the brush
Let your dog examine the toothbrush before inserting it in his mouth. Let him feel it and lick it for a few seconds. This presentation is reassuring for him and he understands that it is not a painful accessory.
For the toothbrush, many masters use those for humans and that’s fine. Be gentle to avoid damaging the gums. A good kit like the one below also gives you an accessory really for dogs and another one to put the paw on the teeth, it is very useful.
No toothpaste for humans!
Use a cleaning agent that is safe for dogs. Human toothpaste, which is not designed to be swallowed, can make your dog sick. Toothpaste for dogs is available in kits like the one shown above.
To clean your dog’s teeth, you can also mix a little baking soda to make a natural toothpaste for your dog’s teeth. This is a perfect alternative to dog toothpaste. Add 1/3 baking soda and 2/3 water.
Which teeth to start with?
Dip the toothbrush into the baking soda paste and start brushing your dog’s teeth; use the paste sparingly. The front teeth are easier to reach. Stay on them at first until the dog gets used to what you’re doing.
Continue on the sides and back of his mouth. Stay fairly slow in your teeth. The movements are the same as for your own teeth. Low up gestures or circular movements avoid damaging the gums.
Rinse your dog’s mouth well
Wet a washcloth with water and wipe the paste over your dog’s teeth; he can’t rinse and spit, so be nice to him. He can swallow the paste, but it would be a shame if he gets used to eating it…
Fill his water fountain well with water so he can drink after brushing if he needs to.
Reward your pet
Congratulate your dog while you brush his teeth to make him more comfortable with the experience. Don’t get angry or frustrated if you have problems; your dog will notice these feelings and eventually panic or, worse, hate brushing.
In the end, reward him with a few pats or a treat, without overdoing it. He’ll be happy when you let go of the hug and he’ll often run to get a drink. Don’t hesitate to give him a small treat as a gift for his docility.