Set your puppy up for toothbrushing success

Set your puppy up for toothbrushing success

Are your puppies going to their new homes this summer? Give them the best foundation for good oral health!

Many puppies are born in spring and go to their new homes during summer. Responsible breeders provide instructions about feeding, vaccinations, training and grooming. What is often overlooked, however, is the importance of establishing a good oral hygiene at an early age.

Since puppies do not hold on to their baby teeth for more than a few months, the need to brush teeth may not be obvious from the start. However, it is not long before the temporary teeth are replaced by the larger adult teeth, and these teeth are for life!

Introducing a good oral hygiene routine in the first year is highly recommended, especially since most puppies are very accepting of new experiences in their first three months of life. If toothbrushing is introduced when the puppy has all his deciduous teeth (aka “milk teeth” or “baby teeth”) in place, at about 8 weeks of age, the activity will soon become part of the habit and routine that puppies thrive on.

Here are 5 tips on how to set your puppy up for toothbrushing success!

1. Get the right tools

Having the right tools at home when your puppy arrives makes all the difference. For successful toothbrushing, include the following items in your New Puppy Checklist:

  • A small yet sturdy puppy toothbrush with extra-soft bristles that won’t irritate the gums. Ideally the toothbrush has a reverse angle to accommodate a small mouth. ‘Finger toothbrushes’ can also work well for young puppies.
  • A doggie toothpaste that is safe for a puppy to swallow in small amounts. Choose a flavour that your puppy likes!
  • High-value treats to give your puppy after each training session.

2. Time it right

Pick a quiet time of the day when you puppy is not overly energetic or too tired. For young puppies it can work to time the session right before a fun event (a walk, dinner, playtime, etc.).

3. Take baby steps

Sit down with your puppy on a soft surface. Place a dab of toothpaste on a finger and encourage your puppy to lick the finger. Repeat a couple of time before applying new toothpaste to your finger and lifting the lip gently to touch the inside of your puppy’s mouth. Be enthusiastic when talking to your puppy and end the session with praise and treats. Remember to keep the sessions very, very short!

4. Introducing the toothbrush

When your puppy is comfortable with having his gums and teeth gently touched, it’s time to introduce the toothbrush. Apply a pea-size amount of paste on the small toothbrush and begin by lightly brushing the rear teeth and gums. This will be a new sensation for your puppy so remember to praise when you let the bristles touch the teeth and gums in gentle circular motions.

Focus on the outside (cheek-facing side) of the teeth as this is where accumulations of plaque and tartar will be greatest in the adult dog.

About 5 seconds per tooth is about right, but during the first sessions you should aim for only 2 seconds per tooth and limit the brushing to just one side of your puppy’s mouth.

5. Make oral hygiene a natural part of life

Aim to brush your puppy’s teeth around the same time each day. Puppies thrive on routine and a gentle but confident approach will help them feel secure and relaxed and anticipate the next session.

Brushing the teeth of an adult dog that has been gradually and properly accustomed to the routine takes less than 5 minutes!

When your puppy’s permanent teeth are in place you can use dental health products, such as ProDen PlaqueOff®, as a complement to brushing to help retard the development of plaque and tartar and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

The older dog will thank you!

The work you put in when your dog is a puppy will pay off in the senior years when oral and dental problems often come to the forefront. It is estimated that by the time dogs reach the age of three, 80 percent have some amount of dental disease. By establishing an oral hygiene routine early in life, your dog needs not become part of that sad statistic.

Dental care can help your dog live a longer, happier and healthier life. And isn’t that exactly what we all want for our puppies?

Happy toothbrushing!