How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Taking care of your dog’s teeth and gums is a critical part of his health. Improper dental care can lead to gum disease, which is often painful and can lead to a weakened jaw. In some cases, gum disease can put your dog at a higher risk for developing heart, kidney, and liver disease.

#1: Know the Signs of Gum Disease

Signs of gum disease in dogs include:

  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gum line
  • Gums bleeding easily

    #2: Gradually Introduce a Dental Routine

    Gum disease is best prevented by a healthy doggy dental routine. In addition to regular trips to the veterinarian, a great way to help keep your dog’s gums and teeth healthy is by brushing his teeth or giving your dog dental chews or dental treats.

    #3: Massage the Gums

    Brushing your dog’s teeth requires a lot of hand-to-mouth contact. You can get him used to having your finger in his mouth by gently massaging his gums. It may take a few tries for your dog to get comfortable with your hands near his mouth. Once he’s fairly at ease, gently lift up his outer lips and use your finger to start massaging his bottom, top, and front gums in a circular motion.

    #4: Introduce Toothpaste

    During the gum massage, put a tiny bit of dog toothpaste on your finger and let your dog lick it off. This will let him become familiar with the taste, so when it’s time to use a brush he’ll recognize the flavor and be more comfortable.

    #5: Start Brushing

    After a few easy sessions of gum massage, it’s time to start brushing. You will need a pet toothbrush or some gauze to wrap around a finger, and some toothpaste specially designed for dogs. If you use a pet toothbrush, make sure you have one in the appropriate size for your dog’s mouth.

    Start with just the front teeth and gradually move toward the back of the mouth until all of them have been brushed. Focus on removing food residue from the outsides of the teeth. Unlike with your own mouth, you don’t need to worry about brushing the insides of your dog’s teeth, because his tongue can clean the inside surfaces well enough. If at all possible, your dog’s teeth should be brushed daily.

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