Q: My newly adopted four-year-old Terrier mix does not let me brush his teeth. What can I do to improve his dental health?

A:  Terriers are challenging to manage, let alone a mixed breed adult with a temperament that you might not be very familiar with at this point of time. Hence, I understand the frustration you are going through. Your new pet may be intimidated by the toothbrush, however, with proper introduction, I believe that you will be able to get him accustomed to brushing teeth.

Start by offering him some mint flavoured treats to get him used to a taste that is similar to toothpaste. Water additives that aid in dental cleansing can be added to his drinking bowl to freshen his breath. These options can help to remove tartar and make your furry friend more prepared when you attempt to brush his teeth in future.

You can introduce the idea of teeth brushing by using a cotton wool or pad soaked in lukewarm water to gently rub the sides of his teeth. Be gentle to avoid injuring his gums. Alternatively, you can coat your fingers with food that he is fond of, such as peanut butter or chicken stock, and allow him to lick it off as you handle his mouth and teeth. Overtime, replace the food with dog toothpaste. Once he is comfortable with this, slowly introduce the toothbrush to him.

It will certainly help if your dog is tired out prior to brushing as he will be more inclined to sit still and go through with it. Take it a step at a time and stop when Fido gets overwhelmed. Gradually increase the duration and frequency of each session. Be encouraging and don’t forget to reward him with a tasty treat afterwards. Once he establishes a positive experience with getting his teeth brushed, you will find him looking forward it. If the above methods do not work on your Terrier mix, I would encourage you to make a teeth scaling appointment to manage his dental hygiene instead.


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