Dental care is one of the main pillars of a puppy’s health. When you brush your puppy’s teeth daily, you ensure that they’ll have a good set of pearly whites to eat, play with, and do other activities.
Getting started with a tooth brushing routine is where many puppy parents get stuck—and we completely understand why! Brushing your puppy’s teeth is different than how humans usually brush their own. And most puppies aren’t thrilled to have their mouths poked and touched.
So how do you brush your puppy’s teeth?
Even if your furry friend is the most fidgety puppy in the world, keeping a consistent dental care routine is a cinch with the right environment and routine.
Read to learn more about your puppy’s dental care needs and the steps you need to follow to brush their chompers.
Should I brush my puppy’s teeth?
In short, yes. In the same way, you would never skip brushing your own teeth, you should never skip brushing your puppy’s. Like human teeth, canine teeth build up debris from the food they eat, leading to dental plaque and tartar. Over time, this debris starts to break down their teeth if they aren’t properly maintained.
Many dogs suffer from dental problems throughout their adulthood due to a lack of good dental care. In fact, as many as 80% of dogs over the age of three have some form of dental disease, according to VCA Hospitals.
Untreated dental plaque and tartar cause loose teeth, tooth abscesses, tooth loss, malformation, and abnormal chewing. These dental issues are extremely painful and make it difficult for your puppy to live a happy life.
Your four-legged friend deserves to have healthy, clean teeth. The only way you can ensure your puppy’s teeth are in tip-top shape is to brush them daily.
When should I brush my puppy’s teeth?
You should start brushing your puppy’s teeth as soon as their milk teeth have erupted. All puppies have a set of 28 “baby” teeth that fall out at around 12 weeks of age. As such, many puppy parents believe that there’s no point in brushing your puppy’s teeth when they still have their milk teeth.
By the time your puppy’s adult teeth settle in, they’ll be used to having their teeth brushed. Learn more about when to start brushing your puppy’s teeth by checking out our blog, When Should You Start Brushing Your Puppy’s Teeth?.
How often should I brush my puppy’s teeth?
You should brush your puppy’s teeth twice a day at least 3 times a week. This helps remove plaque and tartar buildup from the foods your furry friend consumes every day.
Of course, we understand that brushing your puppy’s teeth every day is a challenge when you have work and other life commitments. If you aren’t able to brush your puppy’s teeth often, you can opt for healthy alternatives like dental treats, toys, and water additives.
Just make sure you don’t make it a habit to use alternatives often. Your puppy needs its teeth brushed regularly. We also suggest taking your furry friend to the vet for an annual dental cleaning.
Your vet will discuss your puppy’s dental health and clean up leftover debris so that your little buddy always has teeth that are squeaky clean.
How do I brush puppy teeth for the first time?
Brushing your puppy’s teeth comes with its challenges. Puppies don’t like having their mouth opened or touched, especially for the first time. They may squirm when their owners grab hold of them. Some puppies even bite if their mouth is touched.
Rather than rushing the routine, introduce your puppy’s tooth brushing routine little by little. Here’s a quick set of steps you can follow to ensure your furry friend is comfortable throughout the process.
Get your puppy accustomed to their toothbrush.
Like humans, puppies are creatures of habit. If you rush through their tooth brushing routine, chances are they won’t enjoy it very much. Start by introducing your puppy to their toothbrush.
Your puppy’s toothbrush should be designed for dogs only. Human toothbrushes aren’t able to clean some spots in their mouth. When introducing your puppy to their toothbrush, let them sniff, lick, and paw at it.
Once your puppy is finished, grab your puppy and open its mouth. Use their toothbrush to rub small circles on their teeth. If your fur-baby isn’t comfortable with their toothbrush, you can use your finger.
Give your puppy a treat when you’re done. This helps them associate their toothbrush with positive feelings. If your puppy is distressed throughout the process, stop what you’re done and try again later.
Do not try to force your furry friend into their tooth brushing routine. The last thing you want is for your puppy to fear or resent their tooth brushing routine.
Take it slow and at your puppy’s own pace. What matters is that your puppy is happy and relaxed during the entire session.
Use a chew toy to open your puppy’s mouth.
Your puppy will probably fidget or bite when you try to open its mouth. It’s a natural reaction since their mouth is sensitive. As such, one way you can get your puppy to show off those pearly whites is their favorite toy or treat!
All you need is to have the object in hand. Squeeze the toy or wave the treat to grab your puppy’s attention. When your puppy reaches for the object, gently grab its muzzle. Hold on for a few seconds before releasing.
Repeat this process several times, increasing the time you hold on to your puppy’s muzzle. Your puppy will grow used to having its mouth handled by you.
Brush in circular motions around your puppy’s mouth.
Clean your puppy’s teeth by starting at the front of the mouth. Don’t rush; be as gentle as you can. Use their toothbrush to make small circles around their teeth. Move around the mouth as you do so.
Make sure you clean the front first before moving to the back of the mouth. Remember to brush the inside of your puppy’s teeth as well. If your fur-baby squirms or refuses to open their mouth, stop for a few minutes and try again.
Practice the first step on this list so that your puppy won’t fidget during their tooth brushing.
Give your puppy treats and praise.
When you’re done brushing their teeth, give your puppy treats and kisses. Tooth brushing doesn’t seem like a big challenge for humans, but it’s stressful for puppies. Giving them a treat lets your little buddy know they’ve been a good puppy!
At Petland, we always recommend taking your furry friend to the vet for a dental checkup at least twice a year to make sure their teeth are healthy. Your puppy also needs to have a professional dental cleaning annually so don’t forget to book your appointment!
By maintaining a consistent dental care routine and annual vet exams, you will help your puppy lead a healthy, fulfilling life!
Read our blog, Puppy Teeth Stages: What You Need To Know to learn more about your puppy’s teething development!