Saint James Animal Hospital

538 North Country Road
Saint James, NY 11780


How to brush your Dog's Teeth

Step 1 - Select an appropriate time

Find a quiet, convenient time when you and your dog are both relaxed.

Step 2 - Acquaint your dog with the process.

For the first few sessions don't even use a toothbrush. Hold your dog the same as when you are cuddling her. Gently stroke the outside of her cheeks with your finger. After she becomes comfortable with that, place a dab of toothpaste on your finger and let her taste it. We usually suggest starting with beef or poultry flavored toothpaste, because pets like the taste.. 

Step 3 - Introduce the Toothbrush

Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. In a slow circular motion, brush one or two teeth and the adjoining gum line. The purpose of this step is to get your dog accustomed to the feel of the brush.

Step 4 - Begin Brushing

Over the next several days, gradually increase the number of teeth brushed. It is important to eventually brush the rear teeth where plaque and tartar have a greater tendency to accumulate. Go slowly and gently.. Stop brushing when you decide to stop, before your dog begins to fuss. If she learns to dislike the procedure and finds out that more fussing makes you stop quicker, then this brushing business is going to get harder, not easier.

Build up to about 30 seconds per side. Dogs don't get much tartar on the inside surfaces of their teeth, so you only need to worry about the outside surfaces Be sure to brush the big teeth way in back. 

Make tooth brushing a pleasurable experience

Proceed slowly and gently. Stop each session while it is still fun and lavishly praise your dog afterwards. She will soon start looking forward to tooth brushing and it will become a pleasant activity for both of you. 

Hints to make it easier

In puppies examine their mouth and clean their teeth as part of your routine health check. Starting early is definitely easier, you can make it fun thing to do!

With older dogs if it's your first attempt at cleaning your dog's teeth, remember it's going to be one heck of a surprise for him or her. Consider working up in stages to the full brushing experience rather than charging in and trying to do it all at once. Otherwise you're likely to frighten the living daylights out of the poor thing.

  • Start by just getting the dog settled and relaxed at having his gums and teeth examined and your fingers stuck in its mouth!
  • Then progress onto using your finger to rub on the teeth.
  • If the dog is still anxious move onto a finger brush rather than going straight to a toothbrush.
  • Finally try the toothbrush!
  • Toothpaste can be introduced at any stage once you feel they are confident about the whole process. Delay and retry if they get anxious.

Turn the whole process into a consistent fun routine, that way both you and the dog know what should happen next. Once done give plenty of praise and yes maybe even a tooth friendly treat!