Skip to main content

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Brush up on your dog’s dental health with these top tips.


A dog holding a toothbrush in its mouth

“Like herding cats” is a saying many people use to explain a tricky task, but some of us know that “brushing a dog’s teeth” may be just as appropriate. Here are some helpful tips to help you care for your dog’s dental health.

1. Take it slow

Veterinarians and dental experts recommend daily brushing as the best way to prevent doggy dental disease, but it does not come without its own set of challenges. Imagine how jarring it would be if, one day, without warning, your friend suddenly shoved a toothbrush into your mouth. Exactly. Dogs need time to adjust to brushing, so start slowly. Spend a few seconds a day massaging your dog’s mouth and lips so he gets used to you touching them. Once he’s ok with this, graduate to gentle brushing.

2. Do a taste test

Human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs, so visit your local pet supplier and get some toothpaste crafted specifically for canines. Let your dog sample the toothpaste one dollop at a time until he’s used to it.

3. Sit pretty

A calm dog is easier to deal with than an anxious one, so take your pup for a run or other exercise before settling down to clean his teeth. He’ll be more relaxed and less likely to pull away when you try to brush his chompers.

4. Add in some dental treats

Give good-for-him treats that do double duty.

5. Drink up

Drinking lots of water flushes bacteria that causes bad breath out of your dog’s mouth, but you can step it up a notch: Talk to your vet about different brands of water additives that promote fresh breath, and then consider adding them to your pup’s water bowl.

6. Vet the vet

Many vets offer teeth cleaning and dental health check-ups. Before making a dental appointment, consider that your dog will likely require some anesthesia to get the job done.