How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Establishing an at home dental care routine is an important part of your dog’s overall health. You would never think to go days without brushing your own teeth, and it’s no different for your pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), "Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian."

How Often Should I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Here at Southern California Veterinary Group of the Inland Empire, we recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily, but a great goal is at least three times a week.

Before You Brush:

One thing you will want to do first is simply look at the color of your dog’s teeth. Ideally, they should be white. If you are seeing yellow, grey, or a greenish tinge to the teeth, it is most likely that there is tartar accumulating there. That is not something that you will be able to brush off, and they will need a professional dental cleaning. Also, the gum line should look nice and pink. If you see a red line at the gum line, that can indicate gingivitis or inflammation of the gum tissue.

By brushing on a regular basis, you are preventing more tartar from forming, as well as keeping the gum-line happy.

To get your dog used to having their teeth brushed, it can be helpful to first get them used to having their mouth touched. Especially as a puppy, putting your fingers in their mouth, touching their teeth, as well as their gums, can help to get them used to it.

If you have an adult dog who has never brushed their teeth before, we recommend starting with lifting their lips and looking at their teeth. It is a good starting point to make sure they will tolerate you handling their mouth. From there, you can work your way up to touching the teeth, and even putting a bit of toothpaste on your finger wiping it on the tooth, and let them get used to the flavor.

It is important to remember that human toothpaste is not safe for pet use.

There is specific toothpaste specially made for pets, including tasty flavors such as chicken. What is great about this toothpaste is that it has an enzymatic action. Meaning, it will stick to the tooth and work on the plaque, even without a lot of physical brushing.

How Do I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Once your dog is used to having their mouth handled, you can try using a toothbrush. In addition to toothpaste, there are also toothbrushes made specifically for pets! You only need to use a small amount of paste, and don’t worry about getting the brush wet before you begin. You don’t want to be in your pet's mouth for a long time, so we recommend brushing the most important areas first.

Pulling back your dog’s lip, you will want to focus on the upper cheek area of the mouth, and work your way back to their canine tooth. Next, you can try to brush the front top teeth, or incisors. Some dogs enjoy chewing on the bristles a bit, and this helps to remove tartar as well. The bottom teeth are a challenging spot to reach. We recommend getting your dog used to the top teeth before attempting to brush the bottom.

And there you have it! You've brushed your dog's teeth, and now they're ready to show off their pearly whites!


We hope these tips will help make brushing your dog’s teeth an enjoyable experience for everyone. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, here!

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