dog with toothbrush.

Brushing your pet’s teeth is an important way to maintain optimal dental health. It can also serve as a way for you to bond. If you’ve never brushed an animal’s teeth, it can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry, though, because our step-by-step guide makes it easy to promote lifelong health and overall wellness at home. 

Get the Necessary Supplies

Each pet requires their own size-specific, soft-bristled toothbrush. Some pets like the feel of a silicone brush that fits over the index finger, others like a longer, angled brush. It may take some trial and error to see what they prefer. 

Pet toothpaste comes in various flavors designed to be enticing to pets. Never use toothpaste intended for humans. Check out the list of products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council for additional information. 

Step One: Introduce the Products

Brushing your pet’s teeth should not be a struggle or physically fraught task. The experience should be rewarding and fun for both you and your pet. 

  • Introduce your pet to their toothbrush and toothpaste (and other products like rinses, sprays, or chews, if applicable). 
  • Offer treats, praise, and scratches to help them create positive associations. 
  • If your pet is new to gentle restraint or close handling, give them time to get used to the sensation of you holding onto them. 
  • Only proceed when your pet shows you that they feel safe, relaxed, happy, and open to your efforts.

Step Two: Start Brushing

Hold your pet’s top lip or gently fold it upwards. Before adding toothpaste to the toothbrush, simply graze the teeth and gums with your finger. Any resistance to this should be met with soft tones, encouragement, more praise, and treats. 

  • Slowly add the toothpaste to the toothbrush and carefully insert it into their mouth. 
  • With the brush at a 45-degree angle, apply gentle pressure to the outer teeth. 
  • Move the brush in a slow, circular fashion. 
  • Paying careful attention to the back molars, try not to push down so that the bristles are flat on the teeth. 

Step Three: Achieving and Moving Goals

An ideal goal is to brush your pet’s teeth every day, or at least 3 times a week. Your pet may only let you get half of their teeth done at any given time. 

  • Keep going until every tooth, outer and inner, has been touched by the brush. 
  • Short breaks are key to your success
  • Allow them time to run around, play fetch, or chew on a toy as a way to burn off any extra energy associated with stress and anxiety

Pet Dental Routine

Try to set aside the same time every day to brush your pet’s teeth, such as after a meal or following play time. Keep the experience light, fun, and rewarding with plenty of high-value dental treats to keep them coming back for more.

If you have questions about pet tooth brushing techniques, or how to safely hold your pet while brushing their teeth, please call Bayside Animal Hospital at (916) 791‑8387.