How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth

Just like us, a dog’s oral hygiene is important, but we cannot expect our furry friends to grab a toothbrush and polish their canines before bedtime. They will need a little help from us. 

How-to-brush-your-dog's-teeth

Brushing a dog’s teeth is not all that different from brushing our own, however, the process can be a bit more challenging. 

The first thing you are going to want to do is to gather up the needed supplies. Luckily, you will not require much. You are going to need:

  • A Toothbrush. While you can use a toothbrush that people use it is best to get one that is designed for a dog. There are several different designs to choose from such as a finger brush which simply slips over the end of a finger. 

There are also brushes with angular heads or multiple heads for more effective cleaning.

  • Paste. Do not use toothpaste designed for people on your dog’s teeth because it is not designed to be swallowed and you will not be able to prevent your pet from doing so. If they eat it, it can upset their stomach and even cause them to become ill. Always consult with your veterinarian as they know your dog well and what pet-safe paste would be best for them. 

Time To Brush!

Once you have your supplies it is time to get brushing! When it is possible, it is always best to start brushing their teeth when the dog is young. Not only will it be physically easier to brush their teeth but by starting them young, a routine will be easier to develop.

Older dogs who are not used to having their teeth brushed can still have it done but it may take a little more time and patience for them to become comfortable with it. 

The first thing you can do to make brushing time easier is to always do it in the same location. This will make the dog comfortable and give them a cue as to what is coming. You could even do it in the bathroom after the dog watches you brush your teeth.

Consistency and a familiar location will also help the dog to develop a routine and feel at ease.

To being, try using your finger or a soft washcloth and begin massaging the dog’s gums and teeth. This is a gentle way for the dog to become familiar with what you are doing. Take your time and be careful because doing this does pose a bite risk.

Once the dog seems to be comfortable with you doing this go ahead and move on to using a brush and paste. One of the benefits of using dog toothpaste is that it is usually flavored in beef, chicken, and other desirable flavors. 

Start by placing a small amount of paste onto the brush lift the dog’s lip. Gently begin scrubbing the exterior of the teeth and focus on the area where the gums and the tooth meet. This is where bacteria and plaque tend to build up the most.

How Long Should You Brush? 

Dog-and-tooth-brush

If the dog pulls away praise them with a few ear rubs and a “good boy,” or “good girl.” Try and resume the brushing while continue to offer praise. Roughly thirty seconds on each side should be enough brushing unless your dog allows you to do more.  

It is not necessary to cover every inch of all the teeth and most likely the dog would not sit for that to be done. Concentrate on the larger teeth and the canines. 

Since it is possible you will be able to brush all of their teeth, you can give them a dental treat or toy such as a Greenie after each brushing session. This will help to further clean their teeth and the dog will likely enjoy it more than brushing. 

How Often Should You Brush?

Ideally, a dog’s teeth should be brushed just as much as our own, twice a day and after meals. However, brushing just a few times a week would be the minimum recommendation. 

If you find that your brushing schedule is difficult to maintain or that you often forget, be sure to supply your dog with plenty of dental treats and toys. Chewing on these types of toys will help to remove plaque and any other debris that could lead to a problem. 


Wrap Up 

Every dog’s personality and temper are different, and some will be more willing than others to sit and have their teeth brushed. When first starting to brush your dog’s teeth it will take a lot of patience and follow-through.

Be sure to give them lots of praise and the time required for them to become comfortable with the process. In short, patience, praise, and dental toys! 

If you follow these steps your dog’s oral hygiene should be as good as yours. Good luck and keep on brushing! 



Written by Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has been a dog lover since childhood. He has had his Lab Mix with Hound for over 10+ years now! They enjoy playing outdoors together. Brian loves sharing his knowledge about all things dog on this website. Read more of Bryan's articles.