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How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

How to Brush Your Dog's TeethBrushing your dog’s teeth is important in maintaining your dog’s oral health. Lack of brushing can cause plaque to build up on their teeth which will promote bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease which can also cause a painful infection. Severe infections can spread throughout your dog’s system, causing life-threatening conditions.

Pick a time when our dog is calm and relaxed and work up to brushing their teeth daily. If your dog’s mouth is healthy, even three days a week can make a difference.

What To Use To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

You’ll want to use a toothbrush with soft bristles with specific angles that are made for dogs. Finger brushes can work well for smaller dogs, however, longer handles provide a better reach for larger dogs. Be sure to only use dog toothpaste, not human toothpaste, as it not harmful to your dog when swallowed and comes in flavors like peanut butter or chicken.

What To Know Before Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Before taking on the task of brushing your dog’s teeth, ensure he or she is comfortable and in an area where your dog can relax. Try being in a level position with your dog by kneeling, sitting in front of, or beside him or her. Standing above or over your dog, holding him or her down, or taking a threatening stance will only increase anxiety. If he/she seems anxious or upset, stop, and try again later. Be patient and ease into it – this may take some time to master.

Easing Into Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Rub your finger along your dog’s upper gums and teeth, using light pressure, and test its willingness to have their mouth touched. This will help them become familiar with something against their teeth. Again, this may require numerous sessions before they become comfortable and are able to move on to the next step.

Acquaint your dog with canine toothpaste by putting some on your fingertip. Allow her to lick the toothpaste so that she can get used to the taste and texture. If she refuses to lick the toothpaste after her initial taste, try a different flavor. The goal is to find one she sees as a treat.

The Next Steps to Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

After your your dog becomes familiar with you touching and opening their mouth, begin using toothpaste on a toothbrush. Lift her upper lip and angle the bristles so they will reach the gum line when placing them at a 45-degree angle against her teeth.

Brush in a small circular motion, a few teeth at a time, moving from top to bottom. If light bleeding occurs, every so often, as you move the bristles along the gum line, this is okay. However, ongoing or heavier bleeding may indicate you are brushing too hard or that gum disease is present. If unsure, always ask your veterinarian for more information.

Only brush a few teeth at a time, working up to more each day, aim at a total of two minutes per session. Start on the outsides of the back teeth, where the concentration of plaque tends to collect. If you can manage to get to the insides, great, but if your dog resists, keep that as a future goal, inching your way there.

While brushing your dog’s teeth, talk to her in a calm manner throughout her daily brushings and stroke her jowls or pat her head to let her know that she is doing a good job.

It is important to finish brushing your dog’s teeth on a high note so stop BEFORE she has had enough. Let her know you are happy with her, give her some extra attention and reward her with a treat. Good dental care doesn’t end with just brushing, certain enzymatic drops or sprays, chews and treats can also assist in preventing and fighting plaque buildup.

Enzymatic Oral Care Gel For Dogs

The ingredients in enzymatic dental gels and sprays mix with your pet’s saliva when applied to their teeth and completely coats your pet’s teeth and mouth. This process kills harmful bacteria and loosens existing plaque and tarter.


Disclaimer: All content provided on, is meant only for educational purposes on health care and medical issues that may affect animals or pets and should never be used to replace professional veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any veterinarian or other medical health care practitioner’s advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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