How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth: 6 Tips for Success

How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth: 6 Tips for Success

Many dog owners are aware that exercise and diet are incredibly important to the health of their furry companions. Along with staying active and eating properly, dogs also need routine dental care to ensure that their teeth and gums remain healthy and strong. One way to make sure that your dog’s oral health is maintained is by engaging in routine teeth brushing.

Of course, brushing a dog’s teeth is very different than brushing your own teeth. Here are six tips on how to achieve a successful teeth-brushing session with your pup:

1. Be Strategic with Time

Your ultimate goal when beginning an oral health regimen with your dog is to eventually work up to daily brushing. Figure out what time of day your dog is usually more relaxed. The more relaxed your dog is, the easier brushing his or her teeth will be.

2. Do Not Use Human “Tools”

Do not use toothbrushes or toothpastes that are meant for humans. Purchase a toothbrush that has been made for dogs. For dogs under 30 pounds, a finger brush will make for easier brushing. Dog toothpaste should also be used and can be found in a wide-range of flavors including peanut butter or chicken.

3. Use Proper Positioning

Brushing your dog’s teeth, especially for the first time, will be a learning experience for you, as well as your dog. Make sure that your brush your dog’s teeth in a location where your dog is noticeably comfortable. Kneel or sit beside him or her. Do not stand above your dog, hold your dog down, or stand in a threatening manner. If your dog becomes upset, stop. You may have to work your way up to being able to fully brush your dog’s teeth, and that is okay.

4. Familiarize Your Dog

Some dogs are quick to allow their owners to brush their teeth. Others require a learning curve. Before reaching for your dog’s toothbrush, familiarize him or her with the act. Lightly rub your finger along your dog’s gums and teeth. This may require a few cycles so that your dog becomes familiar with feeling something foreign on his or her teeth.

After your dog has become familiar with you touching the inside of his or her mouth, test out the toothpaste by letting your dog lick some off of your finger. This will allow your dog to get used to the taste and texture of the toothpaste. If, after a few attempts, your dog refuses to lick more and does not seem to enjoy it, consider trying a different flavor.

Finally, test out the toothbrush. Lift your dog’s upper lip and angle the bristles so that they are able to reach your dog’s gum line. If your dog is comfortable with the toothbrush, you are ready to begin a brushing routine.

5. Grab a Stopwatch

Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth for a total of two minutes. Begin by brushing his or her teeth in small circles. If your dog begins to resist, start by simply brushing the outsides of the canine teeth and the back teeth. While it is great if you are able to get the insides of your dog’s teeth, these areas are not as pressing because your dog’s tongue helps to keep that area clean.

Sometimes, light bleeding will occur at the gum line. Bleeding every now and then is okay, however, if bleeding occurs every time you brush your dog’s teeth or if the bleeding is heavy, you should speak with your veterinarian and make an appointment to have him or her check for any underlying oral health issues like gum disease.

6. Reassure and Reward

Talk to your dog throughout the process. Tell your dog that he or she is good and safe. Pet him or her continuously. Finally, when you are done brushing your dog’s teeth, reward your dog with a treat.

Brushing your dog’s teeth doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. By following these six tips, and by scheduling regular professional cleanings with your veterinarian, your dog’s teeth and gums can remain healthy for years to come.


We know your dog is a cherished member of your family, so our entire team shares a commitment to provide the best, most compassionate veterinary care for your dog. We offer a variety of dog services to in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area including vaccinesdental careweight managementsenior care, and more. Call (512) 251-BARK today to learn more!