What Do You Need to Know About Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?

March 31, 2021

We all know that oral hygiene is important. Brushing helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, infection, and bad breath. But this does not apply to just us humans, your best friend needs this too!

So, let’s talk about cleaning your canine’s canines.

What you need:

Firstly, you will need a toothbrush and pet friendly toothpaste.

You can purchase a dog toothbrush, which typically has smaller, softer bristles than human ones. If you have a smaller dog, you could also try a finger or toddlers’ toothbrush.

Next is toothpaste. Dogs cannot use human toothpaste as it contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs. We know to spit and rinse out after brushing – your dog does not. Purchase specific pet toothpaste from your vet directly, or your local pet store. Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavours, such as chicken, beef, even peanut butter – but don’t be tempted to try it yourself.

When to brush:

Ideally you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, but every other day will help prevent most dental issues.

Choose a time and place when your dog is relaxed and without distraction. Dogs can find teeth brushing stressful until they are used to it. Find a place with plenty of light too, as this will help you to see what you are doing.

Building the routine:

Ideally, we advise building a brushing routine from a young age, but it is never too late to start.

Have some of their favourite treats on hand. Sit or kneel alongside your dog, either in front or to their side. You do not want to increase stress and agitation by standing over them or trying to hold them down. Brushing their teeth should be a bonding exercise, just like brushing their coat.

Work your way through each of these steps, building upon them each time, stopping if your dog gets too agitated. Remember, you can always try again later. Constant praise and treats as they learn will make progress easier.

  1. Start by getting them used to having their teeth and gums touched. Lifting their upper lip and running your fingertip along the outside of their gums and teeth. Gently pull down their lower lip and repeat the same on their lower teeth.
  2. Get them used to the toothpaste. Have them lick a little of it from your finger or incorporate it into the process of running your finger over their gums and teeth. If they do not like the taste, switch to another flavour or brand. You want them to see this as a treat too.
  3. Introduce them to the toothbrush. Again, you can have them lick some of the toothpaste from it.
  4. Start to brush their teeth. You want to begin with the upper teeth, just as you did with step 1, starting at the front, and slowly working your way to the sides and then back. Brush in a small circular motion. Repeat the same with the lower teeth. Do not worry if you see a little blood during this process, especially when starting out. If there is a larger amount, stop and consult a vet as they may have a gum infection, gum disease, or your brushing style may be too vigorous.
  5. When they become used to brushing, you can add cleaning the inner side of their teeth to the routine. Your dog’s coarse tongue naturally assists with this, so it is not as important as the outer side, but preferable to include.

And that is it! Remember to give them plenty of praise throughout and a treat at the end, maybe a dental stick or chew that helps with bad breath and plaque.

Need more brushing advice for your furry loved one? Give our friendly team a call and we’ll be happy to help you with your specific needs.

Got a question?

We’re here to help you with any urgent enquiries or assistance you might need. Need a little extra help, or not sure if you should bring your pet in for a check-up? Give our team a call and we’ll happily answer your questions.