Stinky Breath

AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior Owner Lindsay Rapp discusses how to get your dog used to having his teeth brushed.

Oh my gosh, that smells so bad!

I say that every time my dogs kiss me. Their breath is sometimes unbearable. Most of you know I have two small dogs (chichi’s) and a big girl (pit mix). Kayla is 3 years old and her mouth is just now starting to smell, but the two little ones… wow! Their breath is awful!

So, I started brushing their teeth a few months ago. I am starting to see a difference.

I had never brushed any of my dogs' teeth before, so I had to do a little research.  I had no idea there were so many products to help with canine teeth.

First thing, don’t use human toothpaste. They make special stuff for dogs since there are some ingredients in our toothpaste that is harmful to dogs. Also, they make the toothpaste taste like peanut butter and cheese (things your dog likes).

I learned that the real benefit of teeth brushing comes from the mechanical action of the brush on the teeth. So finding the right toothbrush that works for you and your dog is key. These also depend on your dog's gum heath and the size of their teeth and mouth. You can use a dental sponge, a finger brush or a dog toothbrush. It all depends on what works for you and your dog

Even though small dogs have smaller mouths than. big dogs, they still have the same number of teeth. Small dogs teeth are very crammed together in their mouth. That's why smaller dogs breath usually smells worse. They are also more likely to need teeth pulled over time.

Now, it's time to start!

  1. Give your dog some of the toothpaste on your finger. You want them to get used to the taste. Continue this step for a few days or until your dog looks forward to licking the paste.
  2. The next step is to have your dog become comfortable with having something placed against his teeth and gums. Apply a small amount of paste to your finger and gently rub it on one of the large canine teeth in the front of the mouth. Always verbally praise your dog so they learn to like it.
  3. After your dog is used to the toothpaste, and having it put on his teeth, get them used to the toothbrush. The texture or sound of the bristles might be something your dog is not used to. So just like anything else we do, we want to make it something good/fun. So, let your dog lick the toothpaste off of the brush so he gets used to the texture. Do this for a week.
  4. Now it's time for them to start getting used to the actually brushing. Start with brushing the two top canine teeth. I recommend every week add a few more teeth to the routine. Remember, through this entire process you should verbally praise your dog. Once you are done, reward your dog with a treat.

Some vets recommend brushing your dog's teeth every day, just like us humans do. But talk with your vet. He/she may need to do a major dental cleaning on your dog annually or every few years. By brushing their teeth in between these cleanings, you will have a happier and healthier dog!

AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior offers group dog training classes at Glenview Animal Hospital and private in-home training throughout the North Shore.

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