How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Pets have been an important part of our lives for many years. You can extend your pets good health and quality years with simple dental care. Dental disease is the most common problem seen in our pet population today. More than 85% of all dogs and cats presented to veterinarians are affected by dental problems. Periodontal disease is what causes bad breath, mouth pain and eventual tooth loss.

We recommend daily dental care at home for your pets, just like the rest of the family. It is best to begin home care at an early age, but it is never too late. Visible tartar should be removed ultrasonically in a process known as scaling and polishing, just like when people go to the dentist. This makes your home care efforts easier and more effective. Always remember to make it FUN.

Gathering Supplies:

Washcloth, toothbrush or finger brush

Pet toothpaste (We have products available in our hospital)

Step one: Slowly acquainting your pet with mouth care (this can be started as soon as you get your puppy.

Using your hand, gently open the pet’s mouth and run your finger around his/her lips, lifting the lips, etc. This should begin with just 30 seconds on day one and progressing to a couple of minutes by the end of the week. Reward your pet with a small treat or praise at the end of each session. You can use a special tartar-reducing treat. Ask us about dental diets!! After your puppy/dog is comfortable with this step and old enough you can proceed to step two.

Step two: Introducing toothbrush or washcloth (without toothpaste) after your puppy has all of their adult teeth

This step should not be done until your puppy is older than 6 months or has all of their adult teeth in place. Prior to that age your puppies mouth might be sore from cutting teeth and you don’t want to add to that discomfort by banging into the gums with a tooth brush or wash cloth. You also do not want your puppy to associate the discomfort of their teething with having their teeth brushed. After your puppy has all the adult teeth in place you can start this step. Use either a washcloth wrapped around your index finger or wet toothbrush on the teeth. Lift lips. Massage the outer surfaces only of upper and lower teeth using a back and forth motion. Do this for 30 seconds on day one, progressing to three minutes by the end of the week. Once your puppy/dog is comfortable with this step proceed to step three.

Step three: Add toothpaste, extend brushing time

For this step you will use your dental cleaning instrument and add ¾ inch of toothpaste to brush outer surfaces only of upper and lower teeth in a back-and-forth motion.

A few pointers

  • Do not rush the process or else your pet may become resistant
  • Always give your pet a treat at the end of each session, making it enjoyable
  • If your pet shows any indication of aggression (growling, biting, scratching, etc.) stop immediately. Call the hospital for further professional advice.
  • NEVER use human toothpaste. Vomiting is common if this is used.
  • Cleaning at home will reduce the frequency of professional teeth cleaning.