Brushing your dog’s teeth is a crucial component of keeping him healthy and happy. While most dogs are not naturally inclined to sit still for a brushing, all dogs can be trained through positive reinforcement and a little bit of care to at least tolerate the brushing process. Using an electric toothbrush makes things slightly more complicated, but it follows the same basic procedure as teaching your dog to deal with any other hygiene inconvenience. Dogs can learn almost anything if you’re willing to put in the work.
Reasons to Brush
Brushing your dog’s teeth is more than just an exercise in keeping those pearly whites gleaming — it has very real health benefits for the dog. Dogs who do not have their teeth brushed regularly are at risk of developing periodontal disease, which in turn can cause abscesses and tooth loss. Additionally, periodontal disease can lead to an infection of the blood if left untreated. In other words, skipping those brush sessions puts your pooch’s health at risk.
How to Get Started
Before you bring the electric toothbrush into the mix, it’s important to get your dog comfortable with the brushing process. Approach the dog when he is calm and relaxed and try getting down to his level to limit intimidation. Lightly rub your dog’s gums to help him grow comfortable with something being placed in his mouth — this step can take several training sessions. Then it’s a matter of introducing the toothpaste and brush in increments, slowly working your way up to full brush sessions over time.
Incorporating the Electric Toothbrush
Once your dog is comfortable with having his teeth brushed, you can try upgrading to an electric device. First, make sure you’re using a brush made for a dog; human toothbrushes are stiffer and made for human teeth. Next, sit with your pup and offer him small treats while you run the electric toothbrush in your hand. The idea here is getting him used to the sound before you try the actual brushing. Finally, you’ll introduce the toothbrush to the brushing process in small increments, stopping when you feel your dog getting uncomfortable. This could take several sessions as well.
Making it a Habit
The best way to get your dog used to having his teeth brushed and touched is through regular brushing. The ASPCA recommends that you brush your dog’s teeth every day, or at least several times per week if you can’t commit to the daily routine. It’s also important to have your vet check your dog’s teeth — he may need a professional cleaning from time to time. The most important thing is that you make teeth brushing a fun and rewarding experience for your dog, keeping him healthy along the way.