Tips For Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth At Home

Tips For Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth At Home – A Vets Perspective

How To Choose The Right Toothpaste For Your Dog UK

Caring for your dog involves a lot of obvious things; feeding, walking and exercise and training. But what a lot of new dog owners overlook is dental care, yet this is one of the most important aspects of looking after your pet.

Just like humans, dogs need to have clean and well-maintained teeth in order that they stay strong and healthy. Offering chews and toys is a great way to achieve this and I’ve written a full guide on this with lots of information. However, regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is also an essential part of this dental care routine.

If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, it can feel a little daunting. There’s the worry that you may hurt or scare your dog and of course, if you have a nervous or aggressive pup, you’ll naturally be concerned about him snapping. As long as you take the right approach, brushing your dog’s teeth should be an easy and enjoyable aspect of care for both of you. But if you’re in any doubt, here come my tips for brushing your dog’s teeth at home

Key Takeaways

Understanding Why Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Matters

Sometimes, getting a dog to cooperate and have his teeth brushed can be a real chore. In these cases, it’s often easier to just ditch the idea altogether and find an alternative, although I should stress the importance of finding a method to clean your dog’s teeth which works for both you and your dog.

One of the most common health conditions experienced by dogs is dental disease. By avoiding brushing their teeth, there is a risk of a build-up of plaque and tartar. When this happens, it can result in conditions such as dental disease and gingivitis.

Therefore caring for your pooch’s teeth and having regular brushing sessions contributes to your pet’s overall health and welfare, and can prevent conditions developing later on in your dogs life.

Choosing The Right Tools And Toothpaste For Your Dog

When it comes to looking after your dog’s teeth, you cannot simply use the same tools and products that you’d use for your own teeth. As is the case with many things, there are special dog toothpastes and tooth cleaning equipment. You’ll be able to get your hands on the right equipment either from your local pet shop or from your vet.

Selecting A Dog Toothbrush

It’s no good using a full sized human toothbrush for your dog as this will be too large and won’t get into all the nooks and crannies. Some vets suggest using a children’s toothbrush as these are smaller and more precise.

However, you can also purchase a rubber thimble or a special dog toothbrush, both of which are perfectly designed for the task at hand.

Picking A Suitable Dog Toothpaste

It is vital that you NEVER use human toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth. While you might do this with all good intentions, these products often contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs so should be avoided at all costs.

But there are plenty of special dog toothpastes out there that are not only ideal for caring for canine teeth but also come in a variety of dog friendly flavours like liver and chicken. These are enzymatic toothpastes and are designed not only to remove plaque but also keep your dog’s breath fresh and odour-free.

You can read more about choosing the right toothpaste for your dog in my in depth guide!

Preparing Your Dog For Teeth Brushing

It’s generally recommended to brush your dog’s teeth from as early an age as possible. By doing this, you’ll get your pet used to the process and it won’t be anywhere near as challenging.

That said, it’s perfectly normal for pet owners to overlook the importance of brushing their dog’s teeth. However, once they realise why they should be doing it, they’re usually keen to start but you have to consider that introducing this new process to your dog may be tricky. Therefore, it’s important to take things slowly and don’t expect too much too soon from your dog.

Getting Your Dog Comfortable

Preparing Your Dog For Teeth Brushing

One of the most important things to consider when brushing your dog’s teeth at home is how your pet feels. If your dog in any way tries to pull back or seems unhappy, don’t push it.

Some dogs will be perfectly happy to let you do whatever you want but many may be uncomfortable with being handled around their mouth. In this case, you may need to spend some time training your dog to get used to being touched in this area before you can actually start the process of brushing. How long this takes will vary depending on the individual dog.

It’s a good idea to start by simply placing your finger near your dog’s mouth and gradually adding in more. Maybe touch them lightly around the mouth, then inside the mouth and keep moving forward until your dog is totally at ease.

It is also important to provide positive reinforcement, making the teeth brushing a positive experience for your dog. Not only will this make compliance easier, but also will help to reduce stress for both owner and dog. Perhaps consider providing a treat to your dog at the end of the brushing session to achieve this.

Introducing The Toothbrush And Toothpaste

For a dog that’s never seen toothpaste and a toothbrush before, having them thrust into their mouth can be a bit of an experience. That’s why I recommend allowing your dog to familiarise themselves with the equipment before you try and put it anywhere near your pup’s mouth.

If you’ve followed the previous step then your dog should now be accustomed to you touching around his mouth and inside of it. The next step is to start touching his mouth with the toothbrush but you don’t actually need to start brushing yet; although if your dog is comfortable, go for it!

Otherwise, allow some time for your pet to get used to having the brush in and around his mouth before adding toothpaste into the mix. To start with, you may need to apply a little toothpaste to your finger and let your dog sniff it or lick it off. You can then advance to placing the toothpaste into his mouth before finally moving on to applying it with a brush.

Some dogs will take to this more easily than others but remember to always reward your pet with a treat. It’s also worth mentioning that a small handful of dogs may refuse teeth brushing altogether but there are alternative ways to clean your dog’s teeth which you can read about in my guide on the subject.

Step By Step Guide To Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

It is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth twice a day, the same routine you’d use for your own teeth. Getting started can feel intimidating for both you and your pooch but don’t worry, here is my simple step by step guide.

Starting The Brushing Process

Before you start brushing your pet’s teeth, it is really important to have a chat with your vet. While all vets will tell you that teeth brushing is an essential part of your dog’s care, they may also be able to offer tailored advice. Some breeds have different jaw alignment, particularly flat faced dogs, which means their teeth are often crowded, putting them at greater risk of dental disease. Your vet will be able to offer the most suitable advice for your breed.

When you initially start brushing your dog’s teeth, you don’t need to worry about being thorough. Yes it’s important to maintain good dental health but at the moment, your main concern should be your dog’s comfort and happiness.

So, during those first sessions, you’ll need to focus only on brushing the teeth you can see. Make sure you’re super gentle and allow your dog to lead the process. If they seem happy, continue and try to reach teeth that are further back in the mouth. If they back away, then you should do the same.

Brushing The Front Teeth

Brushing The Front Teeth

In the beginning, it’s always best to brush only the front incisor teeth until your dog is used to the process. When you do this, clean each tooth in a circular motion and apply gentle pressure. It’s really important to focus on the gum line as this is an area where bacteria builds up more quickly. We advice starting with the front teeth as they are much easier to reach then the back molars, therefroe reducing the overall stress in your dog.

Brushing The Back Teeth

Once your dog is comfortable and familiar with having his front incisor teeth brushed, you can start to access the back molars. Again, this may require some training and patience on your part but take your time and realise that this is a gradual process. If you do this, your dog will become used to having a toothbrush in the back of his mouth and he won’t mind it, making future brushing sessions quick, easy and effectvie by being able to brush all teeth.

Post Brushing Care

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean with brushing is just one important part of caring for their dental health. There may be other things you need to consider and it’s vital to keep a close eye on your dog’s teeth to ensure they aren’t suffering with any sort of disease. The tooth brushing process not only helps to improve dental hygeine, but also provides a time where owners can monitor and assess their dogs dental health, and loof for signs of dental disease, as discussed later on in this post.

When To Seek Professional Help

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth At Home When To Seek Professional Help

In some cases, you may find that, no matter how much build up and training you do, your dog simply won’t let you brush his teeth. This may mean seeking advice from your vet who may be able to make the process easier for your pet.

Moreover, if you notice any signs of dental disease or any other health conditions, it’s vital that you contact your vet and have your dog checked. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Bleeding or damaged gums
  • Deposits on the teeth
  • Teeth that are discoloured
  • Teeth falling out
  • Bad breath
  • Exposed teeth roots which may be very sensitive
  • Your dog loses their appetite and refuses food leading to weight loss

For a more detailed guide into the main causes, prevention, treatment methods and clinical signs of dental disease, watch my specific YouTube video here, explaining all things dental disease.

In the event that your dog is diagnosed with dental disease, it’s important that the correct treatment is carried out. However, this is not something that should be done at home. It can often involve sedating the animal to achieve a thorough examination and specialist equipment such as an x-ray machine may be needed. Furthermore, in some cases, it may be necessary to remove teeth and after this, your dog will need medications such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories that can only be prescribed by your vet.

Maintaining Regular Dental Check Ups

As part of your dog’s wider dental care plan, it’s essential to have his teeth checked by your vet. This is normally done as part of your pet’s annual check-up but if you notice any of the problems I talked about above, then book an appointment sooner rather than later.

Maintaining good dental health goes a long way to ensuring your pet’s overall wellbeing. I’ve written a compelling post on this if you’d like to check it out.


Pros and Cons of Teeth Brushing in Dogs

As a vet, I believe that regular teeth brushing can be beneficial for the majority of pets, although like anything, there are also pros and cons to consider.

Pros
  • Less invasive approach to maintain dental health
  • Potential to improve Quality of Life
  • Can be done at home by owners, and does not require a vet.
  • Lower cost when compared to more invasive treatments for dental disease.
  • Can be performed daily by owners.
Cons
  • Complience issues – (teeth brushing not always tolerated)
  • Risk of causing damage to your dogs oral cavity – (brush gently with care)
  • Risk to owner of being bitten.
  • Less invasive options are available – (PlaqueOff Powder and Dental chews)

Popular Dog Dental Toothpaste’s Comparison Table

Highest Rated
Beaphar | Advanced Dual-Enzyme Toothpaste | Dental Care for Dogs & Cats | Helps Prevent Bad Breath & Combat Plaque | Liver-Flavoured | 100g Tube
Best Pet Steps With Storage
PetSol Toothpaste for Dogs & Cats (100g) Improve Gum, Tooth Health & Oral Hygiene. Freshen Dog Breath Remove & Reduce Plaque. Fresh Breath Dental Care Teeth Cleaning Tartar & Plaque Remover (Mint)
Best Value (toothbrush included)
Dog Toothbrush with Toothpaste | Approved Dog Dental Kit | Triple Headed Deep Cleaning Toothbrush for Dogs + 100% Natural Toothpaste | Freshen Breathe & Remove Plaque from Teeth
Beaphar | Advanced Dual-Enzyme Toothpaste | Dental Care for Dogs & Cats | Helps Prevent Bad Breath & Combat Plaque | Liver-Flavoured | 100g Tube
PetSol Toothpaste for Dogs & Cats (100g) Improve Gum, Tooth Health & Oral Hygiene. Freshen Dog Breath Remove & Reduce Plaque. Fresh Breath Dental Care Teeth Cleaning Tartar & Plaque Remover (Mint)
Dog Toothbrush with Toothpaste | Approved Dog Dental Kit | Triple Headed Deep Cleaning Toothbrush for Dogs + 100% Natural Toothpaste | Freshen Breathe & Remove Plaque from Teeth
£3.79
£7.99
£11.49
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Beef
Mint
Mint
Highest Rated
Beaphar | Advanced Dual-Enzyme Toothpaste | Dental Care for Dogs & Cats | Helps Prevent Bad Breath & Combat Plaque | Liver-Flavoured | 100g Tube
Beaphar | Advanced Dual-Enzyme Toothpaste | Dental Care for Dogs & Cats | Helps Prevent Bad Breath & Combat Plaque | Liver-Flavoured | 100g Tube
£3.79
Flavour
Beef
Best Pet Steps With Storage
PetSol Toothpaste for Dogs & Cats (100g) Improve Gum, Tooth Health & Oral Hygiene. Freshen Dog Breath Remove & Reduce Plaque. Fresh Breath Dental Care Teeth Cleaning Tartar & Plaque Remover (Mint)
PetSol Toothpaste for Dogs & Cats (100g) Improve Gum, Tooth Health & Oral Hygiene. Freshen Dog Breath Remove & Reduce Plaque. Fresh Breath Dental Care Teeth Cleaning Tartar & Plaque Remover (Mint)
£7.99
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Mint
Best Value (toothbrush included)
Dog Toothbrush with Toothpaste | Approved Dog Dental Kit | Triple Headed Deep Cleaning Toothbrush for Dogs + 100% Natural Toothpaste | Freshen Breathe & Remove Plaque from Teeth
Dog Toothbrush with Toothpaste | Approved Dog Dental Kit | Triple Headed Deep Cleaning Toothbrush for Dogs + 100% Natural Toothpaste | Freshen Breathe & Remove Plaque from Teeth
£11.49
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Mint

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

FAQ’s

How to brush dog’s teeth when they refuse?

If your dog absolutely refuses to have his teeth brushed and doesn’t comply with any of the training I have talked about in this guide then you may need to seek advice from your vet. Alternatively, you could use other methods of cleaning his teeth that don’t involve brushing such as chew toys and powders.

I’ve never brushed my dog’s teeth, where do I start?

If you’re never brushed your dog’s teeth before then you’ll need to begin with some training. Your dog won’t be used to having something in his mouth so you’ll need to gradually build up to this by touching his mouth, introducing toothpaste and eventually going in with a brush. If your dog shows any signs of being uncomfortable, it’s time to back away.

How to clean dog teeth naturally without chemicals?

If you’re looking for a natural approach to cleaning your dog’s teeth then there are lots of sprays, gels and other products that are 100% organic and contain only natural ingredients. However, the most natural way for dogs to clean their teeth is by chewing so make sure you provide your pet with lots of chew toys made from rubber, plastic or rawhide.

What is the easiest way to brush a dog’s teeth at home?

The easiest way to brush your dog’s teeth at home is to make sure they’re comfortable. You can start by simply rubbing a little toothpaste onto their teeth with your finger and this will almost feel as though you’re giving them a treat. The more slowly and gradually you can build up to the event, the more likely your dog will be to comply.

What can I use to brush my dog’s teeth?

While it is possible to use a small toothbrush, it’s better to opt for one of the special dog toothbrushes or rubber thimbles available from your pet shop or vet.

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

Most vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth at least three times a week but this is the bare minimum. In order to ensure super healthy teeth, you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth twice a day.

Veterinary Author at AblePaws.co.uk | Website | + posts

Being a 5th year Vet student and having a passion for improving the health and welfare of all animals, I am providing AblePaws.co.uk with a veterinary perspective / insight into the real word applications, including strengths and limitations of the products it reviews. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to the suitability of the pet products reviewed on the site to keep your pet mobile, comfortable and full of life!

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