1/17/15: Dental Hygiene Part II

#5 Canine Tooth-Brushing Kit

Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for canines. Never use fluoride with dogs under six months of age—it can interfere with their enamel formation. And do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate a dog's stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available.

#6 Brightening the Pearly Whites

Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:

First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with

your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums.

When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dog-

formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to

the taste.

Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs—it should be smaller than a

human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your

finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage

to your dog's gums.

Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing, as in step 7.

A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog's gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt her gums.

#7 Brushing Technique

Yes, there is actually a technique! Place the brush or your gauze-wrapped finger at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on one area of your dog's mouth at a time, lifting her lip as necessary. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, and giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your dog resists having the inner surfaces of her teeth cleaned, don't fight it—only a small amount of tartar accumulates there. Once you get the technique down, go for a brushing two or three times a week.