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Family Matters: Brushing Pet’s Teeth


I’ll never forget the first time I took our dog, Jill, to the vet and the doctor asked if I brushed her teeth.

Um. She’s a dog. A DOG.

Exactly, the vet responded, and dogs need their teeth brushed just like humans do.

Dogs don’t get cavities the way we do, but they do get plaque, tartar, and gingivitis — all of which can cause foul breath and tooth problems for your pooch.

To avoid the doggie dentist, you want to brush your dog’s teeth every day.

SAY WHAT? I have a hard enough time getting my two boys to brush their teeth TWICE a day, let alone factoring my dog into the equation. And with the dog, it’s not like I can send her into the bathroom and trust she’ll come out with pearly whites.

The vet assured me that if I brushed Jill’s teeth once a week, I’d be doing well.

But, how to trick my cunning canine into allowing me to brush her teeth? I was guessing a pink princess toothbrush was not going to provide the incentive Jill needed to open wide.

The vet gave me a pamphlet with these tips:

Choose a time when your dog is a little tired and less likely to want to play.

Train her to let you touch her mouth. This could take some time.

Flip up her lips.

Wet the edge of a clean washcloth so you can rub your dog’s gums and teeth; hold a corner of the wet portion of the washcloth with your index finger and use a gentle, circular motion.

When she is used to this, it’s time to get her accustomed to brushing.

Get a soft, silicone finger brush made for pets. Don’t try to use a human toothbrush and NEVER use human toothpaste. Check your pet aisle for toothpaste appropriate for pets.

Flip up your dog’s lips and gently rub the toothbrush and toothpaste against your dog’s teeth and gums for a few seconds.

Give your dog a treat, even if she allows you to work on her teeth for only a few seconds.

Repeat steps one through three the next day, gradually lengthening the amount of time spent brushing.

Hopefully this will help when Fido gives you one of her enthusiastic kisses AND will keep her healthy.


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