How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth



This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts. This was originally posted at Me and My Puppy


Share Facebook Tweet Linkedin Stumbleupon

Dog Breath is gross.

I know.. Shocker.

However, you may be surprised to know that bad breath could be a sign of a more significant dental problem.

It’s important to regularly clean your dog’s teeth and to periodically visit the vet in order to maintain your dog’s oral health.

Brushing your dog’s teeth is about more than just fresh breath (although that’s nice); gum disease is an increasingly common condition in dogs that is easily preventable with regular brushing.


Preventing dental decay in your dog’s mouth is key to the long-term health of your dog or puppy.

Tooth decay causes a build-up of plaque that can cause bad breath, and ultimately can lead to liver and kidney problems for your dog.

If you’re feeding your dog wet food, make sure to include dry kibble in his diet as well. Kibble is hard and will help get plaque out of his teeth.

Chew toys also help to remove plaque. Nylabone® and Kong® make great, durable toys.


Ideally, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth daily.

If this seems too ambitious for you, a lot of vets recommend brushing 3-5 times per week.

If you haven’t been brushing your dog’s teeth at all, any brushing will be beneficial but you should try to make it a regular activity.


Before we can get started, you’ll need a few tools.

You can decide between using a toothbrush specially designed for dogs, a small finger brush, or any other specialized tool.

I find the finger brush to be the easiest to maneuver. They’re designed to wrap around your finger and make it easier to reach some of the tougher spots in a dog’s mouth.

You’re free to pick the product that you feel most comfortable using.

You will also need specialized toothpaste that is formulated for dogs. Avoid using toothpaste for humans as dogs are likely to swallow the product which may result in gastrointestinal problems.

You can purchase all of these from your vet or your local pet store.

Now, let’s get on to the steps.


Your dog will likely be uncomfortable initially with having his teeth cleaned, so take your time.

Also, incorporate positive reinforcement into this process by rewarding your dog with treats after brushing. It will help to make it a more pleasant event for him going forward.


STEP 1: Introduce your dog to the brush and toothpaste

Let him investigate the brush with paste on it for a bit. It often helps to encourage your pup to lick the product – it’s designed to be quite tasty for dogs.

STEP 2: Position yourself properly

If your dog is small enough, you can place him in your lap with his face pointed away from you. If you have a larger dog, try sitting in a chair with your dog sitting upright beside you.

STEP 3: Position the brush

The bristles should be at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and pointing toward the gum line. This helps to clean where the gum and tooth meet (where gingivitis develops).

STEP 4: Start Brushing

You should brush in an oval motion like you would with your own teeth. This will properly remove bacteria and other substances that cause plaque and tartar build-up.

STEP 5: Brush all sections of the mouth

This includes the upper and lower front teeth, as well as the molars at the back.

STEP 6: Pay particular attention to problem areas

You might notice some spots are worse than others. It’s important to also pay close attention to the upper canines (fangs).

STEP 7: Examine the dog’s mouth

Look for unusual swelling, chipped or broken teeth, or bleeding gums. If you notice any of these, it would be best to visit the vet to diagnose or rule out any dental problems

STEP 8: Be Patient

It likely won’t happen right away, but eventually your puppy will get accustomed to the routine. Remember to associate with the event positively. Reward your dog after good behavior while cleaning his teeth.


If your dog gives you a really hard time with brushing his teeth, there are other things that you can try.

There are certain types of mouthwash that you can add to their water that help to get rid of bacteria.

There are also dental sprays that you can spray on their favorite chew toys. These sprays are good at getting rid of plaque and tartar in the mouth.

It’s also worthwhile to get your dog’s teeth cleaned by your vet. He will likely be put under anesthesia while your vet does a thorough cleaning of his mouth.


Cleaning your dog’s teeth should start at an early age.

Getting your puppy used to mouth cleaning is important for his long-term health.

Try to incorporate this into your weekly routine to ensure your dog’s breath smells (reasonably) good and his health doesn’t suffer.

It’s worth it to be consistent and patient – it will pay off in the long run.

Me and My Puppy is an online, user-friendly source for puppy training info for new dog owners. We aim to cover a variety of puppy training topics in a simple, yet detailed manner. The site will update as new information becomes available and the scope of content will increase as we continue to grow.