In case you've already forgotten, February is National Pet Dental Health month. So somewhere between the romantic getaways and Oscar bashes you're planning this month, be sure to find time to give your pet's chompers some love! I've given you teeth-cleaning tips in the past, but if you're looking for another primer on doggie tooth brushing, you're in luck: Heidi Ganahl, founder of Camp Bow Wow, has some helpful hints. Keep reading and get brushing!

  1. Buy the Right Tools: The first step to brushing your dog’s teeth is finding the right dental equipment. Make sure you purchase a dog toothbrush that is angled and soft. For large breeds, stick to longer toothbrushes so you reach difficult places. A finger brush is easier to use on smaller animals. Remember to never use human toothpaste on dogs because it contains ingredients that can harm Fido’s stomach. There are many dog-friendly toothpaste options that come in fun flavors like peanut butter, beef, or chicken.
  2. It’s All About Timing: It’s important to approach your dog when he is relaxed and in a good mood. Don’t force contact, because the pup will rebel against you.
  3. Positioning: Make sure your dog is comfortable before beginning. Avoid standing above your dog in a threatening way. Instead, get on the same level and sit in front of your pet.
  4. Prep the Gums: Test your dog’s anxiety level and willingness to have his mouth touched. Gently rub your finger on the top row of teeth and gums. You may have to repeat this step a few times before proceeding.

Four more tips after the jump!

  1. Taste Test: Place a dot of the dog toothpaste on your finger and have Fido lick it off. The key here is to find a flavor that tastes like a treat. This will make brushing a lot easier.
  2. Master the Technique: Start by opening your dog’s upper lip and brush along the gum line with a 45-degree angle. Continue to brush the rest of the teeth in a circular motion. Brush a few teeth at a time and focus on the plaque. Keep your dog calm throughout the process by gently patting his head and talking in a soothing voice.
  3. Reward Your Dog: Congratulate Fido for being a good sport with a treat, special attention, or extra playtime.
  4. Establish a Routine: Although daily brushing is ideal, three times a week is a good start. Remember that dental hygiene doesn’t end with brushing. Special treats were created to fight plaque buildup. Visit your veterinarian to determine the right routine for your pup.

Do you brush your dog's teeth? Any techniques or tips to add?