Lincoln Land Animal Clinic, Ltd

1148 Tendick
Jacksonville, IL 62650


How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

What would happen if you stopped brushing your own teeth?

Even if you only ate hard food as most dogs and cats do, plaque would still accumulate. You should be brushing your pet's teeth at least twice weekly, daily if you can manage it. It's not as difficult as you might imagine.

What are the benefits? Brushing removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. Even though pets do not commonly get cavities, they do suffer from periodontal disease. Untreated, gum disease can lead to pain and loss of teeth. Brushing your pet's teeth, when done correctly, helps to build a positive relationship between you and your pet.   

 How do you brush your pet's teeth?

Goal: To maintain a positive relationship with your pet and improve their dental health.  Your pet should never be forced or held down to brush their teeth.  Training your pet to accept dental care is very important for their long term well being. Gaining your pet's trust so that when you approach them to look at their mouth, they are not fearful will facilitate medicating your pet as well enable your pet to have a more thorough physical exam.

Step one is to pick an appropriate pet toothbrush.

The ideal toothbrush is one designed for pets.  It will have a long handle, with an angled head to better fit an animal's mouth and extra soft bristles. Another option is the finger toothbrush that fits over the tip of your finger.

Step two is to select an appropriate toothpaste.

The best pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help control plaque. Try to avoid toothpastes with baking soda, detergents, or salt sometimes found in human pastes. Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors.  Finding the flavor your pet loves will make the process easier!             

Step three is to get the brush with paste into your pet's mouth and get all the teeth brushed. 

This step may be broken down into multiple smaller steps.  Please do not grab your pet's muzzle and jam the toothbrush and paste into their mouth.  Your pet's mouth is sensitive and it is not used to being brushed.  If your pet backs away from you please stop and reassess the situation.  Ultimately you should not have to restrain your pet to brush their teeth.  They should choose to do it voluntarily!  If they try to get away set lower goals, brush one tooth at a time, or bring your pet in to have their mouth examined to make sure they do not have a painful tooth or growth in their mouth.  This should be fun and easy for both of you!

Start with a little toothpaste on your finger.  Will your pet lick it off? If so then place a little on your pets large canine tooth, and stop.  Repeat several times a day on all four of the canine teeth.
If not, try another flavor of toothpaste, or even canned food.  Brushing your pet's teeth with canned food doesn't help prevent plaque and tartar build up, it does improve your pet's perception of your finger or a tooth brush in their mouth.  This is a very important first step. 

After your pet looks forward to you placing a finger on the canine teeth, lift their lip a little and see if you can run your finger along the gum line.  Just once.  If you can do this and your pet enjoys it, repeat this process several times a day. Try it with toothpaste on your finger.  Your pet is getting used to having  an object with toothpaste rubbing along their gumline.  

Then try to rub back and forth using your finger as a toothbrush.  If your pet doesn't try to get away you have done a great job training them!  If your pet is still trying to get away start at the beginning and go very slow.  

Next use a washcloth or piece of gauze to wipe the teeth, front and back in the same manner as above. Eventually graduate to using the toothbrush. Every time you change from finger to finger plus toothpaste, to finger plus washcloth and toothpaste, start at the first step.  While you may feel like your pet already knows how to have their teeth brushed everytime a parameter is changed your pet may be a little apprehensive.  The training with each new parameter shouldn't take long because your pet now has a positive aasociation between you and placing something in their mouth. 

Practice twice daily for about 2 weeks and your pet should be looking forward to you approaching them with the toothpaste. 

Once you have accomplished this goal the next step is to start brushing.  Once again, please proceed slowly.  If your pet shows any apprehension or discomfort please contact us.

To brush your pet's teeth place the toothbrush bristles at the gum margin where the teeth and gums meet at a 45 degree angle. The movement should be in an oval pattern. Be sure to gently force the bristle ends into the area around the base of the tooth as well as into the space between the teeth. Ten short back and forth motions should be completed, then the brush moved to a new location. Cover three to four teeth at a time. Most attention should be given to the outside of the upper teeth. 

In summary, pet home care should include daily (or at least every other day) brushing using an enzymatic pet toothpaste. Other therapies include dental diets, dental treats and chews as well as products that go in the drinking water. Taking an active role in the care of your pet's dental care will help reduce dental disease, bad breath and potential life threatening heart and kidney disease. Every one wins!

If you have any questions or problems please feel free to contact us!

Brushing your dogs teeth is so easy even a toddler can do it!


Pictures of Bad Teeth