Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most dogs before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis — daily, if he or she will allow it.
Dogs are never too young to start having their teeth brushed at home; in fact, the younger they are, the better.
Before you start brushing your dog’s teeth, have them checked by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend a
dental cleaning to remove any existing plaque and tartar, which contribute to periodontal disease. If your dog has severe dental disease, extraction of the affected teeth may be recommended. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on how long to wait after
dental cleaning or extraction before brushing your dog’s teeth.
A baby toothbrush or pet toothbrush that is an appropriate size for your dog; if your dog won’t tolerate a toothbrush, a small piece of washcloth can be used
Treat or other reward your
dog really likes
Note: Do not use toothpaste for people or baking soda because these can upset your dog’s stomach. Pet toothpaste comes in different flavors (e.g., poultry, beef). You may need to try a couple flavors to find the one your dog likes the best. The more your dog likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be to train him or her to accept brushing.
Toothbrushing should be a bonding experience that is constantly reinforced with praise and rewards. Be very patient — teaching your dog to accept toothbrushing may take weeks. Make toothbrushing enjoyable for your dog by rewarding him or her immediately after each session.
You need only to brush the outside of your dog’s teeth (the side facing the cheek). Only do as much at a time as your dog allows. You may not be able to do the whole mouth at first.
If you are ever worried about being bitten, stop. Ask your veterinarian about how best to care for your dog’s teeth.
Start by letting your dog get used to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Put them out and let your dog sniff them. You can let your dog taste the toothpaste to see if he or she likes it.
Also, get your dog used to you touching his or her mouth. Lift his or her lips, and slowly and gently rub your dog’s teeth and gums with your finger. When your dog is comfortable with you touching his or her mouth and is familiar with the toothbrush and toothpaste, gradually switch to putting the toothpaste on your finger, and then to putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Let your dog lick the paste off the brush at first to get used to having the brush in his or her mouth. If your dog won’t tolerate a toothbrush, a small piece of washcloth can be used. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the washcloth and rub it over the outside surfaces of your dog’s teeth.
Brush your dog’s teeth along the gum line. Work quickly — you don’t need to scrub. Work up to 30 seconds of brushing for each side of the mouth at least every other day.
If you notice any problems as you brush, like red or bleeding gums or
bad breath, call your veterinarian. The earlier problems are found, the easier they are to treat.
Although there’s no substitute for regular toothbrushing, some dogs just won’t allow it. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth, ask your veterinarian about plaque-preventive products. Feeding dry food may also help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Ryder, an 8-month-old Shiba Inu
puppy, is back home with his family
after falling off a boat into the ocean.
Get expert advice on keeping pets safe
during fireworks, barbecues, hot weather
and other Independence Day hazards.
Do you know what "brachycephalic" means? How about "borborygmi?"
Take our quiz to test your…
Many dogs love to swim, but certain
bodies of water can hold dangers that
aren't visible to the naked eye.
The medium-size Mudi is a sheepdog
who tends to make an intelligent, active
and easy-to-groom companion.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
Thank you for subscribing.