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11:58 AM   April 28, 2015
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How to Brush a Dog's Teeth

Courtesy of Olena Adamenko,

Polishing a pup’s pearly whites should be an enjoyable time for both of the dog and its owner. Though it’s best to introduce the routine when a dog is a puppy, adult dogs can be coaxed into getting their teeth cleaned, too. In either case, customers should take it slowly and give their pets lots of praise along the way. Before long, their dogs will look forward to the nightly tooth-brushing ritual!

To make the chore as simple as possible, here is a list of techniques you can provide to your customers. As they become accustomed to the routine, they’ll discover which methods work best.

1. Gather your tools: First, pick up some dog-specific toothpaste and a dog toothbrush as your local pet specialty retailer. If this is your first time brushing your dog’s teeth or if you have a puppy, consider using a finger brush, which is a small plastic sheath with soft bristles that fits on the tip of your finger, or a dental sponge, which is a stick with a small sponge on the end.

2. Introduce the toothpaste: Dog toothpastes taste nothing like the human varieties. They’re specially flavored to appeal to canine taste buds. Before you begin brushing your dog’s teeth, offer him a bit of the toothpaste, letting him get used to the flavor and consistency.

Don’t worry if he swallows it -- it’s formulated to be safe for dogs to ingest. Praise him and give him lots of love through this process so he associates toothpaste with your attention. Repeat this step for several days or until your dog looks forward to licking the paste.

3. Get him used to having something in his mouth: The next step is to teach your dog to be comfortable with having something placed against his teeth and gums. Ask your dog to sit or lay down. Squeeze a small amount of paste on your finger and gently rub it on one of his large canine teeth in the front of his mouth. Repeat this exercise as often as needed -- and don’t forget to heap on the praise!

4. Introduce the brush: When your dog is used to having something applied to his teeth, it’s time to introduce the toothbrush. Because the brush has a consistency he likely hasn’t experienced before, let him first lick the toothpaste off of it, praising him as he goes. Do this for a week or so, making sure your pup readily licks the paste off the brush.

5. Start brushing: After your pup is used to the paste, the brush and having something in his mouth, the next step is to polish those pearly whites. Ask him to sit or lay down. Gently lift his upper lip and place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and move the brush back and forth. Follow a similar technique for the lower teeth. You don’t need to brush the inside surface of his teeth. The movement of his tongue over those surfaces keeps them relative free from plaque. Remember: take it slowly. If you just get one side -- or one tooth -- done, it’s a start. After you’re done, give him lots of praise and love.

6. Repeat as often as possible: Try to brush your dog’s teeth daily. By keeping your pup’s teeth clean, you’re keeping him healthy. Chronic plaque and tartar buildup can lead to periodontal and systemic disease -- not to mention really bad doggy breath!  <HOME>

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