How To Teach Your Dog To Like Getting Their Teeth Brushed
While few pet owners take the time to brush their dog's teeth, it is crucial to maintaining good health. It may sound intimidating, but with a little practice and a lot of patience, you can teach your pet to enjoy their regular brushings.
While dogs aren't prone to cavities to the degree that their human companions are, they can certainly develop tartar, plaque and gingivitis. Not only do these issues cause foul breath and discomfort, they put your pet at risk for tooth decay and dental infections that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Unlike children, however, it's not enough to chide your pooch about his or her brushing habits, and very few pets are ready and willing to "open wide" without a bit of preparation and training.
Most dogs are not comfortable with unfamiliar handling. Before beginning to work on a brushing schedule, it can be helpful to take a few weeks to get your pet used to the basic idea of having your fingers in his or her mouth. Many veterinarians recommend starting with a damp, clean cloth. It's also a good idea to choose the right time. After exercise or before bed are typically good moments: a tired-out puppy is less likely to put up too much of a fuss.
Once you have your dog secured and comfortable, flip up the lips to expose teeth and gums, wet the edge of the cloth, and using your index finger rub it gently in a circular motion. Make sure to speak in a calm, soothing voice as you do this. If he or she becomes impatient at first, it's fine to stop for the moment and give out a treat. This allows your pet to become gradually accustomed to brushing, and helps him or her to begin to associate brushing with positive feedback. Over the next few weeks, continue to practice, slowly lengthening the amount of time you spend cleaning.
When you feel that your pet is ready, you can begin to experiment with actual brushing. While some people prefer to use a soft-bristled children's brush, you might also consider using a rubber finger brush. You should be able to get recommendations from your veterinarian, or pick one up from a well-stocked pet store. Using the above training technique, a finger brush offers an easy transition from the cloth massage to actual brushing.
To begin, squeeze out a small amount of doggie toothpaste onto the brush, and let your dog lick it off, to become accustomed to the taste. Then, use the same steps as before: flip up the lips and gently rub in a slow, circular motion. If your pet becomes irritable or uncomfortable at this new procedure, make sure to once again start, stop, reward and slowly increase the amount of time you spend cleaning. With a little patience and a little time, you should eventually build up enough trust to give your dog the dental hygiene they deserve. For more information on dental hygiene for dogs, visit this website of an emergency animal clinic in Morgan Hill.
Nancy has a deep love of animals and talks and writes about them regularly. She is a huge animal rights advocate. Read her thoughts at veterinary blog.
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