Should I brush my dogs teeth?

As dog owners, we all know we’re supposed to brush our own teeth after every meal or at least three times per day – of course, whether we do or not is another story. But did you know brushing your dog’s teeth could be just as beneficial to their oral health as brushing your own teeth should be?

Why would you want to brush your dog’s teeth? Speaking of which, how exactly do you brush your dog’s teeth, how often, and with what? Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth yields many of the same benefits you enjoy from keeping up on your own oral health, such as prevention of periodontal disease, fresh (or fresher) breath, and strong teeth and gums. The tools, however, are different. Rather than use a human toothbrush and toothpaste (which is actually harmful to pets), obtain a doggie toothbrush specifically designed to brush your dog’s teeth and gums along with a tube of doggie toothpaste in a flavor you think your dog might like.

While holding back your dog’s lips, place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your dog’s teeth. Apply light pressure as you rotate the brush in a circular motion over the front of each individual tooth. If you are able to open your dog’s jaw wider in order to get at the back of each tooth, then great! But don’t worry about it if you can’t since tartar doesn’t accumulate there much.

If you are having difficulty acclimating your dog to having its teeth brushed, try the following “test” steps. First, check to make sure your dog likes the toothpaste you’ve chosen by offering some on your finger. Do this for a few days as a treat. Next, place some toothpaste on your dog’s front canine tooth so they get used to having something placed on their teeth. Do this for several days. Finally, place some toothpaste on a doggie toothbrush and let your dog lick it off. Do this for a few more days so your dog gets used to the texture of the brush. If all goes well, your dog should feel comfortable enough to allow you to brush its teeth once you’ve completed the above steps.

Of course, not every dog will appreciate a teeth brushing no matter what you do, and that’s okay. A piece of gauze wrapped around your finger can replace a toothbrush, if need be. And chew toys or dental treats can help keep your dog’s teeth cleaner if absolutely nothing else you do gets your dog comfortable enough for a more thorough cleaning.

Either way, don’t get frustrated when attempting to give your dog some proper dental care. Your dog deserves a set of healthy teeth and gums. It makes human food taste so much better. Doesn’t it?

Article Source: Doctor Foster & Smith (, Pet WebMD (