Dog’s dental hygiene is often forgotten, but it is just as important to maintain proper dental hygiene in dogs as it is in humans. While there’s no set age to begin brushing your dog’s teeth, you definitely want to be brushing them by the time they have all their adult teeth, which occurs around 4 to 6 months of age. We recommend starting as soon as they come home so your puppy gets used to having their teeth brushed early on.
How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?
You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth every day, and no less than every other day. Since tartar takes about 48 hours to form, brushing less than every 48 hours will not be an effective way to remove plaque and can lead to periodontal disease.
How should I train my dog to like brushing?
Brushing their teeth is not painful and should not be unpleasant for your dog with the proper socialization, so by slowly easing your dog into brushing, they will be comfortable doing this every day and might even look forward to it!
Step 1 (1-2 weeks): Praise your dog for face and lip handling
Make sure you always brush your dog’s teeth in the same location of your home, at least when you are staring out. This will help your dog associate this location with a positive experience around brushing their teeth.
Have your dog sit down while you brush their teeth.
For this first step, spend 1-2 minutes handling their face. Take a particular interest in their muzzle and lip. You’ll want to lift their lip to look at their teeth and gums all around their mouth. Once done, give them a treat and praise them for a job well done!
Step 2 (1-2 weeks): Introduce the toothpaste and brush
Repeat Step 1 while holding the toothbrush in your hand. This will help your dog get used to being around the toothbrush and be comfortable with the toothbrush being around their face. If you are starting out with the slip on brush, use that for this step.
Begin to introduce dog toothpaste to your dog. To do this, place some toothpaste on your finger and let your dog smell it and lick it off. Dog toothpaste is especially formulated to remove plaque build up in dogs and is safe for them to swallow. Never give your dog human toothpaste. If your dog doesn’t seem to love the toothpaste too much, you can smear some onto their favorite treat and have them lick it off the treat. Once they do, praise them and further treat them. Remember, the goal is to mark positive interactions with the toothpaste and toothbrush by praising and treating them. If your dog is not growing to like the toothpaste, consider switching your brand. There are several different brands and flavors you can try, and some are more palatable than others.
Step 3 (1-2 weeks): Introduce brushing
Begin by brushing gently. Introduce the toothbrush (without any toothpaste) between your dog’s cheek and teeth and begin to brush back and forth, and then in a circular motion. At this point you are still training your dog to get used to brushing, so don’t worry about how effective your brushing is yet. Do this for a few seconds, and then remove the toothbrush and give your dog a treat.
Do this a few more times as you alternate sides of the mouth, and increase the time as you go. Always give them praise and treats after removing the toothbrush and work up to longer time periods.
Once your dog is comfortable with the brush, add toothpaste and begin to brush their teeth the same way you would for yours!
Remember, it takes a while for both you and your dog to get comfortable with brushing their teeth, and consistency will be your best friend in this process. Do this every day until your dog is used to it and lets you effectively brush their teeth!