How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Boryana Manzurova/Shutterstock

Not unlike their human owners, dogs also need to have their teeth brushed regularly to keep a myriad of nasty oral health issues at bay, including bad breath, plaque and tartar buildup, cavities, and even tooth loss. But how do you maintain proper oral hygiene for dogs? Read on to find out how often (and how) to brush your dog’s teeth to make sure their sparkly whites remain sparkly and white well into their golden years.

How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Ideally, you would brush your dog’s teeth every day. While veterinarians do recommend daily teeth brushing, it is more of a best-case scenario – not every dog owner can fit this routine into their busy daily schedule. That’s why most experts agree that brushing your dog’s teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week is a solid strategy and can definitely make a big difference for their oral health. 

When Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

The best time for brushing your dog’s teeth is before they go to sleep, as you want to remove the food remnants that accumulate on gums and teeth throughout the day. If the bits of food are left in the mount, they can contribute to bacterial growth and cause plaque and tartar buildup. In turn, this becomes the root cause of many dental problems dogs face, such as bad breath, tooth decay, or periodontitis, to name a few.

What Will I Need to Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the process of dog teeth brushing, you need to make sure you have the right tools at your disposal. You can’t use human toothpaste to keep your pet’s canines clean (in fact, human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs), and using a toothbrush designed for our teeth simply won’t work.

For starters, you’ll need a dog-safe toothpaste that’s formulated to keep their chompers squeaky clean but also to taste well to your pet. Let’s face it, cooling minty freshness might be nice for you, but your dog will definitely be more open to the idea of having his teeth brushed if the toothpaste tastes like peanut butter or bacon, for example. My dogs love the beef flavor version of the Arm & Hammer for Pets Tartar Control Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs and I love the fact that it is formulated with natural ingredients and does a great job freshening their smelly breath.

When it comes to toothbrushes for dogs, there are various designs out there, but the two most common ones are the ones that look similar to regular toothbrushes and those that fit on your finger, sort of like a thimble. Depending on your dog’s size and your own preferences, one design might work better than the other. For me, personally, a finger toothbrush kit such as this one by Jasper is the most practical solution. I have both large breed and small breed dogs, so a versatile design like a toothbrush that fits on your finger works better for my needs. 

How Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Luckily, brushing your dog’s teeth is a straightforward process. Begin by gently lifting your dog's lip and brushing their front teeth with a circular motion. Be sure to brush both the outside and inside surfaces of the teeth. After brushing their front teeth, move on to their back teeth and repeat the process on the bottom set of teeth. Dog toothpaste is formulated to be a no-rinse, so once the teeth are brushed, you are all done. 

Of course, some dogs will not be as comfortable with the process as you would expect them to be and may become scared or agitated. Don’t push them or try to force them – it can only be counterproductive. You’ll have the best results if you start brushing your dog’s teeth early in their life, while they are still young, and if you rely on positive reinforcement to put them at ease while you brush their teeth.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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