Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent plaque buildup so his chompers stay healthy for his entire lifespan. While brushing Baxter’s teeth should be a part of your daily routine to keep his mouth in tip-top shape, you need to follow certain steps and hold the brush at just the right angle. Otherwise you might not be giving his mouth a thorough cleaning, despite all of your efforts.
Place the brush flat on Baxter’s teeth and tilt the handle downward slightly, exposing the bristles to his gumline. The brush should be at a 45-degree angle before you start brushing with it. Once you have it in place, gently brush his teeth in a circular motion.
Why the Angle Matters
Brushing Baxter’s teeth at just the right angle is important to clean not only his teeth, but also his gums. By brushing at the proper angle, you’re gently sweeping away bacteria right at the gumline and slightly above it. If you point the brush down, allowing the bristles to face the ground, or if you brush at a 90-degree angle, you may not hit the gumline at all during the cleaning.
Using the Right Paste
Dogs can’t spit, so any toothpaste you put in your pooch’s mouth will most likely end up in his belly when he swallows. Because he’ll eat it, get him a type of toothpaste that is specifically designed for dogs. Human toothpaste often has artificial sweeteners that can be toxic to canines and has high amounts of fluoride that can aggravate your barking buddy’s stomach. Dog toothpaste is made with antibacterial enzymes that help prevent or slowdown tartar buildup, yet they can be eaten. Pick out a few different flavors to see what he likes -- it’ll help make the brushing experience a bit easier if the toothpaste tastes like a treat to him. Doggie toothpaste comes in beef, peanut butter, mint, chicken and many other varieties.
How to Approach Him
If you’re new to brushing your beloved pal’s teeth or if he’s a bit hesitant about letting you do it, you’ll have to work with him a little bit at a time to get him acclimated. Holding him down and shoving a toothbrush in his mouth can make him learn to dread the experience, making it more and more difficult each time you do it. Get in the habit of brushing his teeth after his morning walks, when he’s good and tired. Place a dab of toothpaste on the brush and let him sniff it first. If he licks it and doesn’t seem frightened of the brush, lift up his gums and slowly brush one side of his mouth. He may only let you brush for a couple seconds at a time, but with continuous praise, you’ll eventually build up to a full mouth teeth brushing in one session.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.