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5 Secrets For Establishing A Successful Tooth Brushing Routine With Your Dog

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on March 16, 2017

For some of you lucky paw-rents, brushing your dogs’ teeth is simple. You just grab the toothbrush, toothpaste, and the dog, and go to work.

For others – myself included – it is an epic struggle of strength and will just to get your dog’s mouth open. This post is for those folks!

Happy National Dog Day!

Here are a few tips to take care of your four-legged friends…

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1. Start with a healthy, pain-free mouth.

First and foremost, you must make sure that you are starting with a healthy mouth. A common mistake that dog owners make is to wait to begin brushing until they notice bad breath or other signs of dental problems. If you try to brush a dog’s teeth while her mouth is sore, she will forever associate brushing with pain. See your vet first if you notice symptoms such as drooling, trouble chewing or bad breath.

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2. Make brushing part of your training routine.

The best way to ensure that your dog is tolerant of having her teeth brushed is to start a routine right away – whether you have a new puppy or have taken in an older dog. Just like establishing a feeding and walking schedule, it’s important to include grooming and maintenance when training a new dog.

Puppies are going to lose their baby teeth, but brushing early teaches them to tolerate the process later in life with their adult teeth. Be prepared, older dogs and rescue pups may have some preexisting attitudes and anxieties about having their faces/mouths touched.

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3. Try a washcloth for sensitive pups.

One of my dogs was so severely matted when he was rescued that his eyes, nose and mouth were almost completely blocked with hair. Needless to say, he is now very sensitive about any kind of grooming around his head and face.

Instead of prying his mouth open and forcing a toothbrush inside, I use a warm, damp washcloth with a bit of poultry-flavored enzymatic toothpaste. I sit him on my lap, facing out – this allows me to avoid reaching right for his face – and gently massage his teeth and gums from the side by sliding the cloth between his lips.

For the baby puppies, Teething Fix!
1 can low sodium chicken broth
Dilute with water
Soke a washcloth in it and freeze the washcloth
Soft, yummy and soothing teething fix!

Posted by Dog’s & Puppies on Thursday, January 5, 2017


4. Never use human toothpaste!

Toothpastes designed for humans often contain fluoride and xylitol, both of which are extremely toxic to dogs. Plus pups tend to despise mint and cinnamon flavors, so invest in a tasty, pet-safe toothpaste instead. Enzymatic pet toothpastes are designed to be swallowed and have an antibacterial ingredient that targets plaque and tartar.

Time for my morning brush! How often do you brush your teeth? #dogsofinsta #labrador #aussieshepherd #aussiesofinstagram…

Posted by Josh Wu on Wednesday, February 1, 2017


5. Ignore the 2 minute rule.

Dentists have drummed into our heads for years that we must brush our teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day for ideal dental health. Luckily, the same is not true for our pets. In fact, as long as you can get a dab of enzymatic toothpaste into your pup’s mouth, it’s going to be beneficial.

It’s certainly ideal to give each tooth a little scrub, and if your dog will tolerate an all-out brushing session, then go to town! But if your pup gets squirmy and restless after 30 seconds, that’s okay. The enzymatic toothpaste mixes with the saliva and spreads throughout the mouth via your dog’s natural tongue movements, helping to reduce plaque and tartar build-up.

It’s Tongue Out Tuesday!! Show me yo tongues!!! #whippet #dogtongue #tongueouttuesday #beansthewhippet #bestofpack #whippetpack @bestofpack @dogsofinstagram

Posted by Beans The Whippet on Tuesday, December 16, 2014


In between brushing sessions, try a safe, healthy dental chew! Formulated by vets, every triple-enzyme, grain and gluten-free dental chew purchase helps provide healthy meals to shelter dogs awaiting their forever homes!

Featured Image via (FMK) Foster Mom Kim – All My Tzus

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