Brushing your dog’s teeth not only prevents harmful diseases and extends your pup’s life—it can save you money in the long run!

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Just like us humans, our doggo's teeth need special care to stay strong and healthy for the long run.

If you and your canine companion are new to the practice of brushing his teeth, you might feel a little overwhelmed at your first try. But with a little practice (and a lot of patience), you and your dog can create a teeth brushing routine that will help keep his chompers in tip-top shape. Mariana Pardo, DVM, shares her tips for how to get started brushing your dog's teeth at home.

  1. Choose a pet-friendly toothpaste. Make sure you get a doggy toothpaste, and never use human toothpastes, as fluoride can be harmful for your furry family member. One that's flavored with a taste he likes—like beef or chicken—will be even better.
  2. Find a toothbrush that'll work with your dog's mouth. Pardo says a children's toothbrush will work, since it has small bristles. A finger brush can also be a good option for getting around all those nooks and crannies in your pup's mouth.
  3. Make sure your dog is comfortable. Start the brushing process by making sure your dog is OK with you touching their mouth. It may take some time to get Fido accustomed to having your hands around their mouth and touching their teeth, but go slowly and be patient.
  4. Start brushing the teeth you can see. Once your pooch becomes more comfortable with you touching their teeth, you'll be able to reach more of their mouth during future brushings.
  5. Be gentle! Pardo says to scrub your dog’s teeth in small round circles, paying special attention to the gum line where bacteria can grow. She advises that dogs who have periodontal disease may be more uncomfortable since brushing may irritate the teeth and gums, so take care not to accidentally hurt your pup by brushing too hard.
  6. Don't rush it. Pardo says brushing your dog's teeth should be done in stages over the course of several weeks until they're used to it. Make sure it's a pleasant experience for them so that they'll experience tooth brushing time with something positive, like playtime or treats!

Make sure you're giving them plenty of praise and pets to give them the best experience possible—and with regular brushing, you can help prevent doggy dental issues, while saving a good chunk of money in the long run.