How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

It may not be the most glamorous of jobs, but cleaning your pet’s teeth on a regular basis plays a big role in keeping him or her healthy. Most people who ignore the task do so simply because they don’t know where to start.

So here, in honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, are some easy-to-follow steps for brushing your pet’s teeth:

1. Brush up on brush styles. Sure, you could grab a toothbrush from the tooth care aisle of your favorite grocery store. And if that works for you and your pet, go for it. But if those styles don’t work for you — or if you’re worried about mixing up the dog’s toothbrush with your own, head to your local pet supply store. There you will find toothbrushes specially designed for dogs and cats as well as finger brushes that might be easier for you to maneuver.

2. Be picky about paste. The first time I ever tried to brush my puppy’s teeth, I used whatever toothpaste I had in the bathroom. Two buckets of foam and spit later, my Labrador let me know that peppermint was not his favorite flavor. That’s why they make pet toothpaste in flavors like chicken, liver and even peanut butter. Sounds gross, I know. But trust me, your pet will be much more willing to oblige if you’ve got her favorite flavor on the brush.

3. Start early and slowly. The sooner you help your pet get used to teeth brushing, the better this will go for everyone. The ASPCA website has step-by-step instructions for handling a dog’s mouth and introducing a toothbrush. The key point to remember is to take the process slowly so that your dog can get used to the procedure before you actually start brushing.

4. Make it rewarding. It’s unlikely that your pet will ever really love teeth brushing, but you can make the whole experience much more pleasurable for him by doling out the treats when he sits, when he lets you handle his muzzle, and throughout the brushing process.

5. Make it a habit. Now that you and your pet have made it through one round of tooth brushing, make it a point to make it happen more regularly. Tap it into your Google calendar, put a Post-It note on your fridge, or keep your dog’s toothbrush next to your own (just be careful to avoid mix ups!) — whatever it takes to remind you to brush your pet’s teeth. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends daily brushing of your dog’s teeth. If you can’t make that happen, at least aim for several times a week.

Article by Jenn Savedge


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Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

Ugh, I dread working on my dog's mouth. She is a pain in the tookush!

Howard Crosse
Howard Crosse4 years ago

I have never brushed my dogs teeth but they are in wonderful condition with absolutely no signs of plaque, the vet checks his teeth along with the rest of him during his annual health check. We buy him rope toys, these floss his teeth, nylon dog toys, specifically designed to clean off plaque and he has a dog dental treat everyday.

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B4 years ago

My Pug Maggie will not let me brush her teeth. She'll bite the toothbrush.

Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobets4 years ago

Thank you.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush4 years ago

There is one way and one way only, to get my cat's teeth brushed.
That hand him the toothbrush.

Carole H.
Carole H4 years ago

I use a dog mouthwash which I add to his fresh water daily even though he is now about twelve the vet always remarks how white and great his teeth are so no need to brush them - would recommend it and the dental chew sticks.

BJ J4 years ago


Fred h
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Kara, for Sharing this!

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck4 years ago