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Published: Feb 15, 2024 4 min read

Regularly brushing your dog's teeth can prevent dental disease and bad breath, but many pet owners overlook its importance. Starting early and making it a habit, even with weekly brushing, can ease your dog into the process, ensuring a safe and consistent oral hygiene routine.

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Brushing your dog’s teeth can be an easy way to prevent dental disease and bad breath. Most pet owners, however, are not aware of its importance, and are therefore not implementing teeth cleaning as part of their regular dog care.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council states that dental cleaning is the most important thing in a pet’s oral hygiene and that dog’s teeth should be brushed daily if possible. However, it maintains that even some weekly brushing is better than no brushing at all.

Let’s learn how to brush your dog’s teeth in a safe and consistent manner, including how to ease your dog into making this a recurring habit.

Tips to brushing your dog’s teeth

Start as early as possible

Toothbrushing can start as soon as they have all their adult teeth, usually at 6 months old. This will allow your puppy to get accustomed to the process, including it being comfortable with you touching its mouth, the taste of pet toothpaste, as well as associating the process with an overall positive experience.

The first few times, you can just use your finger as a brush so that your puppy can get used to the teeth cleaning process. As your dog gets more and more accustomed to regular tooth brushing, you can transition to a pet toothbrush with soft bristles.

Start with the front teeth and work your way to the back teeth

At first, your dog may not be fully comfortable with you brushing its whole teeth. Start with your dog’s canines, brushing them in a circular motion before eventually moving on to the molars. Be patient and listen to your dog’s reaction, being mindful of its gum line.

When your dog gets more comfortable, introduce a dog toothbrush to get into the back teeth, gently opening its mouth to get to the harder-to-reach teeth. If your dog gets nervous or resists, calm it down without forcing it. Remember: this is an ongoing process to get your dog used to opening its mouth regularly and calmly.

Make it a habit

Whether it’s daily, weekly or biweekly, brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is better than never brushing them. Creating a regular schedule to examine and clean your dog’s teeth will not only help you remember to do it but will also help accustom your dog to the practice, making it something that will get easier to do every time. Dog toothpaste tastes good to dogs, so pretty soon it will look forward to the activity, as it will associate it with a treat.

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How to brush dog teeth FAQs

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

You can brush your dog’s teeth as often as you brush your own. However, daily brushing might prove difficult for most pet parents. Veterinarians usually recommend brushing at least three times a week to prevent gingivitis, gum disease and tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth.

Do chew toys help clean your dog’s teeth?

Chew toys can help clean your dog’s plaque buildup and help prevent tooth decay. Dental chews and dental treats can also be powerful tools that your dog will enjoy and will help it with its oral health.

Can I use human toothpaste or a human toothbrush to brush my dog’s teeth?

Never use human toothpaste on dogs as it can contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be fatal to dogs. You can, however, use a baby toothbrush with soft bristles instead of a store bought dog toothbrush.

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