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It is best to start with a puppy, if possible, but any age will do. Purchase toothpaste and a toothbrush made especially for dogs. Put a dab of toothpaste on toothbrush, and attempt to softly brush (circular motion) along the sides of their mouth along the gum line, pulling the cheek out. If they resist, let them lick the toothpaste and even lightly chew on the brush (if a puppy), and then try along the side again. Keep trying before bedtime each night, and they will get used to it.
When you can actually brush the teeth, use more toothpaste for each side. You should be able to even hold the mouth open and brush the insides of their upper teeth. It makes such a difference in their health and well-being, and you avoid the expense of teeth cleaning later on. It is important to be gentle at all times and don't lose patience. I always let them lick the toothbrush when we are done which feels like a treat to them.
Source: After needing to have our German Shepherd's teeth cleaned twice by the vet, we started with our first Westie. We have now had 4 Westies that we've brushed their teeth since they were puppies. We have had great success with good health and no need for teeth cleaning. They have made it to ages 14, 16, 14, and 14.
By Connie E. from Naples, FL
You don't need to be a professional to help your pet keep their teeth in good shape! With a little patience, brushing your dog or cat's teeth can be a breeze!
If you are starting with a puppy or kitten, your job will be much easier. An adult dog or cat will be much more reluctant to let you stick your fingers in their mouths. But the first thing you need to do is get your pet used to the idea of fingers near their mouth and toothpaste in their mouth.
You can use a brush, your bare finger, or any number of tooth-cleaning apparatuses. But please don't jam it right into your pet's mouth. Start with just the easily accessible teeth, and gradually increase the cleaning area. If you or your pet start to get agitated, it's time to stop for the day.
You want tooth brushing to be a positive experience, something your pet looks forward to as bonding time! Praise them for good behavior as you go, and give them a special treat afterwards. The more pleasant it is for your pet, the easier it will be for you!
Keep in mind that a large portion of everyday cleaning is done by chewing; gnawing on a rawhide, worrying a stuffed toy or rope, or crunching on biscuits and kibbles. All of these chewing activities help keep your dog or cat's teeth clean and healthy, but you can ensure even better oral health by brushing your pet's teeth twice a week.
I have a "recipe" for doggie toothpaste that I'd like to share with you guys! Mix together baking soda and water to make a paste. Gently scrub the teeth with a soft brush or with gauze wrapped around your finger.
Remember that human toothpaste can upset your dog's stomach.
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Here are questions related to Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth.
How can I get plaque off of my dog's teeth without going to a vet?
By Janet from Portsmouth, OH
I know you don't want to have the vet remove the plaque but for the dogs overall health please do so and maintain thereafter using Lorelie's suggestions.
What can I do? Bandit will not let me brush his teeth either with the tooth brush or the finger brush. He bites hard on the brush locking it out of his mouth and if I don't move my finger I'm afraid it will suffer the same. Any suggestions out there?
He is just over 3 and his teeth are in good shape; he doesn't like Greenies or rawhide. I have to buy him pigs ears and Bully Sticks (bull's penises) which are not cheap 3.00 a stick only 4" long and curly; he loves them. He won't eat Milk Bones either. I'm at my wits end. Help please, I cant afford to get his teeth cleaned. Who can?
By Debbie T.
I would love to hear from any of you who brush your dog's teeth and what kind of doggie toothpaste you use and how you got started and how the dog likes it, etc.
By Robyn from TN
By Virginia T.06/27/2014
I have 2 dogs & I bush their teeth with the toothpaste from pet store as human toothpaste has something in it that is not good for them. I use the rubber finger and also a toothbrush. I have to get them to open wide enough to get behind the teeth so its a little work but if I had started when puppies they would have been fine with it. I also put their toothpaste on a chew bone nyla kind I keep outside on porch I dont know how much good it does but I do it sometimes.
Has anyone ever heard of using a section of pantyhose wrapped around your finger to gently clean your dogs teeth?
By ComputerScott 09/28/2011
Never heard of that. Does it work?
Our 5 year old Rat Terrier needs to have her teeth cleaned. The Vet wants $250.00 for this. Has anyone cleaned their dog's teeth with the toothbrush and paste that the pet stores sell? I would be willing to try it. If so, how do you do it and how is the dog's mouth rinsed of the paste?
By valery 10/16/2006
You DON'T use our toothpaste. That is harmful to dogs. Get dog toothpaste at pet store. I let my dog chew on the toothbrush and she thinks this is fun. Then I just put her between my legs and brush as best as I can. They get used to it. But NOT our toothpaste please.
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We are the happy owners of a lovely female Fox Terrier Dog which we got from a dear friend who passed away suddenly. Penny is 3 yrs. old. I was checking her teeth and noticed that they could use a cleaning. Has anyone ever done this themselves, or do you have to have a Vet do it by putting the dog to sleep? I heard it is quite costly at the Vet do it. We give her hard dog biscuits to chew on for tartar removal, but it is not doing the job. Thanks for any help readers may be able to give me.
Rosalie from San Diego
By Vicki J
By From Australia