We all know that we need to take our dental health seriously. Without brushing and flossing regularly, our gums and teeth are subject to a host of undesirable health problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. But what some pet owners may not consider is that these same issues apply to dogs whose oral care routine is lacking. If you want to keep your dog healthy and happy, learning how to brush a dog’s teeth is simply part of being an owner.

Are you looking to take better care of your dog’s pearly whites? If so, here are some tips on how to brush a dog’s teeth safely and effectively so you and your buddy can enjoy their smile for years to come!

How to brush a dog's teeth: Dog smiling at photographer

How Do You Brush a Dog’s Teeth?

For many, the concept of brushing a dog’s teeth sounds downright hilarious. After all, won’t they simply try to take the brush out of their mouth as soon as you manage to start the process?

The good news is that many dogs are accepting of a good dental cleaning after a meal. But like any part of their routine, whether it be trimming their toenails or giving them a bath, it’s something that they become accustomed to as you continue to make it a habit for them.

The first and most important step is to find a high-quality doggy toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for their needs. Like human shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste is another product that you do not want to use on your dog as it includes toxic substances that can be detrimental to your pup’s overall health.

Once you’ve found the suitable toothbrush and toothpaste, begin by slowly introducing both of these objects to your furry friend, choosing a time when they’re calm to start working through this new routine with them. You can expect some resistance at first, so it’s important to take things slow and allow them to explore to avoid making it an unpleasant experience for the both of you. Feel free to praise them with affection and a treat as well to get them excited about the process of brushing their teeth.

Regarding the technique and frequency involved when you brush a dog’s teeth, you’ll want to mimic how you brush your own, thoroughly covering the top and bottom teeth so that you’re removing most of the plaque and leftover food residue (keep in mind that some sections may be harder to clean than others as you lift up their lips and move your brush around, depending on your pup’s response). Try to brush their teeth at least every day in order to keep their mouth squeaky clean, and if you feel like being especially careful, you can even use a doggy dental rinse afterward.

Warning Signs of Oral Health Complications

When you brush a dog’s teeth regularly, you’re able to keep their mouth further protected against tooth and gum damage. But if you pick up this habit later in their lives, enough time may have passed to where they already have significant tooth damage and will require a quick dentist visit in order to get their oral health back on track.

Before you begin brushing, make a note of any of the following issues:

  • Look for colors like yellow, green, or gray on the surface of your dog’s teeth. If their teeth are any color other than white, this indicates that tartar has already built up and needs to be removed professionally as brushing alone will not remove this residue.
  • Pay attention to the color of your dog’s teeth. Dog gums should look healthy and pink. If they are red and inflamed and bleed when you brush their teeth, your dog may already have developed gingivitis, which is the precursor to periodontal disease. If you see that the gums look unhealthy, have started to recede, and that your dog’s breath smells bad no matter what you do, periodontal disease may already have begun to take hold.
  • Sometimes, cysts or tumors will grow inside a dog’s mouth. While these issues aren’t necessarily tied to poor oral health, they need to be drained or removed so that they don’t pose a problem for the dog in the future should they burst and become infected.
  • Certain breeds like boxers and bull terriers are known to have proliferating gum disease, in which gum tissue will grow over teeth and pave the way for infections. Thankfully, should you catch this early, you can treat it with antibiotics.

Think about it as if your dog’s mouth were your mouth. If you notice anything that is abnormal and raises concern in you, you should get your dog the medical support they need to fix this problem and get their smile back to normal.

Other Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

Learning how to brush a dog’s teeth isn’t the only way to keep your dog’s dental health in check. In fact, pairing your toothbrushing habit with a wide variety of methods that already exist can be a great way to maximize your effort and make the process more fun for your pup as well.

Here are just a few of the products you can use to make sure your dog’s teeth are properly cared for!

  • Dental Dog Treats: Whether your dog loves a tasty chew or can’t resist a doggy bone, there are a lot of products on the market designed to improve your dog’s oral health while offering them a treat that they absolutely can’t say no to. These should not replace brushing but can be used to help your dog freshen its breath and remove some of the plaque at home and on-the-go.
  • Doggy Dental Wipes: Sometimes, you may not always have access to your dog’s toothbrush and toothpaste but still want to make sure that you’re taking care of their teeth. If you find yourself without their oral care products, doggy dental wipes allow you to get some of the plaque and clean their teeth with ease. Just make sure that you brush later on!
  • Dental Toys: Food-based dental products are great, but there are toys out there that can perform the same function without getting more food into your dog’s teeth at the same time. Look for toys that they will gnaw on to help them strengthen and clean their teeth.

Finally, diet plays a big role as well. If you can, feed your dog mostly dry food as soft food is known for having an easier time sticking to the teeth and resulting in tartar. When you follow all of these tips, your dog is sure to be protected against common dental issues!

Choosing to brush a dog’s teeth can sound foreign to some owners, but it’s an essential health practice that must be observed if you want to keep your dog healthy and happy. Use the guide above to learn more about doggy oral care, what steps you need to follow in order to brush your dog’s teeth, and what products you can supplement your routine with to make sure your pooch is properly cared for!