Brushing Your Dog's Teeth: A How-To Guide

Posted on: 28 June 2016

Brushing your dog's teeth can go a long way towards preventing issues like tooth decay and gum disease. But how do you go about brushing your dog's teeth effectively? Follow these steps for more effective dog care.

Wait until your dog is relaxed.

If you try to brush your dog's teeth when he's feeling spunky or skittish, you'll have a hard time. So, wait until your dog is laying down and napping or otherwise calm to tackle this task. If your dog is not used to having their mouth handled, you may want to just practice playing with their mouth and opening it a few times before you actually attempt brushing the teeth. This way, when you do brush your dog's teeth, they won't react so excitedly.

Apply toothpaste to the toothbrush.

Make sure you use toothpaste made specifically for dogs. (This is sold in most pet stores.) Toothpaste made for humans contains substances that may be harmful to dogs. Apply the toothpaste to a brush made for dogs. Dog-specific toothbrushes have softer bristles, and the bristles are placed at an angle to make it easier to brush your dog's teeth.

Start brushing in circles.

Most people find it easiest to sit on the floor with their dog in front of them, facing them. However, if you have a small dog, you may find it easier to hold him in your lap as you brush. Experiment with different positions to find one that's comfortable.

When you're ready, insert the toothbrush into the corner of your dog's mouth. Use your finger to pull the dog's gums down so you can see the teeth. Brush in circular motions, similar to those you'd use if you were brushing your own teeth. Focus on the areas where you can see discoloration and tartar buildup on the dog's teeth. If your dog will only let you get the teeth closest to the front the first few times you brush, that's okay. As your dog becomes more adapted to brushing, you can start getting them used to you brushing the teeth that are further back.

End on a positive note.

After you're finished brushing your dog's teeth, reward them with a treat or some verbal praise. This way, your dog will come to see tooth brushing as a positive thing and won't fight you as much when you try to do so.

If you're struggling to brush your dog's teeth, ask the groomer for some assistance the next time you bring your dog in to be groomed. He or she can give you some tips for holding your dog and getting them more used to the toothbrush.