Cleaning our dog’s teeth. We all know it’s important. But for some of us, it’s something that seems hard to do regularly.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do a better job of taking care of Baxter’s teeth. Now, as we near the end of Pet Dental Month, it’s time for me to report on how I’m doing.

The answer?

Not great.

Argh.

I have brushes and paste and chews and rinses. I have a relatively cooperative dog. I had a few nights in a row where I brushed his teeth right after dinner. But then I stopped.

I’ve decided that what I need is a habit.

I’ve heard it takes something like three weeks to establish a new habit.

I also know that goal setting isn’t enough on its own. I need a plan. So here is my plan to establish our new dental cleaning habit over the next three weeks.

How to make brushing your dog's teeth a habit

Timing

I liked brushing teeth after dinner. We weren’t pressed for time, Baxter was pretty relaxed, my husband was home so we could tag team if we needed to. But then Baxter started going to bed before we finished eating. He ate his dinner, did a lap around the kitchen to make sure we hadn’t dropped anything and walked down the hall to the bedroom.

Getting him up or getting down on the floor to brush his teeth while he’s laying in bed are not ideal scenarios.

New plan: Brush teeth in the morning.

How to make a habit of brushing your dog's teeth

Equipment

Mr. B has more brushes, flavours of toothpaste, sprays and rinses than I do. The regular toothbrush is easiest to maneuver around his mouth as opposed to the finger brush, and he seems okay with the taste of the dog toothpaste.

However, he has some tartar buildup on his teeth that's too hard for the brush.

New plan: Add a tartar-softening rinse to his drinking water and find a scraper to try to remove the tartar.

Brushing your dog's teeth

Extra help

The comments on my last post and my own experience with Baxter confirm the biggest help for clean teeth is raw bones. We don’t feed raw (yet), so once a week we try to give Baxter a soup bone to chomp on.

The issues are we’re not consistent with every week, and I prefer he have the bones outside where he can lie down and chew for an hour or more. When he’s inside—like in the winter—he brings the bones to his bed. Yuck.

Baxter chewing on a raw soup bone

New plan: I’m not sure what I’m going to do here. Honestly, I may wait until the weather warms up to officially add bones to our routine. Spring is less than a month away now.

What else should I consider in my tooth cleaning plan?

How do you take care of your dog’s teeth?

Julia Thomson is a regular writer for That Mutt. Visit her blog Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating.

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