How to brush your dog's teeth

How to brush your dog's teeth

While many people like the smell of puppy breath, the same can’t be said for “Dog breath.” It’s almost universally considered as eye-stingingly unpleasant. This phrase has even been used as a playground insult! While it’s a joke to some, when you look at the science behind foul panting, it’s clear that bad breath is anything but funny.

In fact, bad breath is epidemic, affecting four out of five companion animals over the age of three. Additionally, this condition could be a sign of dental disease, which can lead to health consequences throughout the whole body, not just in the mouth. As some veterinarians have rightly noted, infections of the gums and teeth can spread to other parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys and intestinal tract … even the joints!

Brushing your dog’s teeth and providing them with dental snacks are two ways to help improve the health of teeth and gums, especially in reducing the build-up of plaque. Unfortunately, however, many pet parents find brushing frustrating, which can result in a stressful experience for pets.

Thankfully, Dr. Sarah is here to share with you the proper technique for brushing your dog’s teeth.

If dental health is a priority for you, watch this short, how-to video about dental care, so you can help your pet fight dental disease and bad breath.

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Bad Dog Breath: Checking Your Pup's Oral Hygiene

Dental Care 101

Comments (35) -

  • Amelia

    10/23/2009 12:41:25 PM |

    Dr. Sarah,

    This is an excellent topic.  As a pet professional for close to 40 years, I have found that pet owners are resistant to brushing their pet's teeth.  This video shows how easy it can be to make brushing teeth a regular routine. This habit can save the pet from having to undergo anesthesia to have a dental procedure done by a veterinary technician.

    Thank you for this excellent pet video.

    Living in the moment,

    animal lover Amelia

  • Rich

    10/24/2009 9:41:10 AM |

    Hi Dr. Sarah,

    This is a great start to our blogs. brushing dogs teeth have always been an area I didnt have much knowledge when asked by my customers and I appreciate the way you make it sound and look so easy. When I mention that it is important to brush your pets teeth I almost always get that "blank" look from their faces. Laughing This video will make it easier to gently convince pet owners that it isnt that difficult.

    Thank you!

  • Gary Sundermeyer

    10/28/2009 8:26:16 PM |

    Great job, Sarah!

    I'd like to see a video on foot care; trimming nails and extra fur around the bottom of thier feet, etc.  We have 2 collies and I really could use some pointers.



    10/29/2009 2:34:16 PM |

    read about the teeth brushing of pet dog teeth.  My dog Lucy came  to me as an abandoned dog after I lost my Max (westie)  Lucy was ill, had ticks, just in horrible condition including teeth.  Anyway to make long story short this was two years ago.  Well I started her on "Greenies" medium size two to three a week, and her breath is beautiful no bad breadth, my daughter-in-law who is a hygenist, said Lucy's teeth looked clean and well maintained.  Dr "Sarah" all I do is give her Greenies.  Expensive, but sure saves on suffering at cleaning time and large expense.  Lucy is in great condition (teeth that is) and everything else.  Thanks for listening.

  • Linda Hess

    10/29/2009 9:20:01 PM |

    Most vets recommend dental cleaning for your pet.   However, they want to put them to sleep.  I know there are risks to this procedure.   Do you recommend it?   Or, should I just try brushing our dogs teeth myself?

  • Wendy Wasserman

    10/30/2009 3:30:13 AM |

    I brush my dog's teeth every night, but he still has tarter that will need to be scraped off by the Vet.  What am I doing wrong?  


  • Ike, Mamie, and Spottie

    10/30/2009 8:32:11 AM |

    Thank you Dr. Sarah for sharing the video - we will no longer be frightened of the toothbrush...

  • Karen

    10/30/2009 8:58:01 AM |

    Wonderful, thanks for simplifying what seems like an impossible task.  Thanks, Karen

  • Nancy

    10/30/2009 11:14:55 AM |

    A good video but I disagree that the outside area of the back teeth are a top priority. I think it is also important to brush the top surface of the molars. These crenallated areas get food caught in them. Also, the inside of the back molars are just as important.
    It amazes me that people who claim to love their companions never brush their teeth then ostracize them for this infraction. the same happens to humans whose dental hygiene is not up to par. We all know that "human" breath  is just as malodorous.

  • jo ann garmany

    10/30/2009 12:04:45 PM |

    @ Amelia:


  • jo ann garmany

    10/30/2009 12:08:13 PM |


  • Valerie

    10/30/2009 1:15:54 PM |

    @ Nancy:
    I for one have never had to brush my dogs teeth and the vets always comment on how clean they look and she is about 7 years old.  It is a very important topic and if you are taking the time to brush them, that is great!
    I have been using HealthyPetNets products for 4 years of my dogs life ever since I found them.  I use the food, vitamins, Dental Treats, the Wet canned food, and the skin and coat.  I want my dog to get everything possible from the inside out to have very healthy gums.  The Dental Treats are great!  They have nutrition to help the gums and teeth stay as healthy as possible and they also have microdent that will coat the teeth so the tartar doesn't tend to stick.  They must really work, because my Lucy has no tartar buildup at all!

  • Jill

    10/30/2009 4:16:05 PM |

    Loved the informative video.  I just adopted a rescue dog (French Bulldog) and am going to start brushing his teeth (as well as keep him healthy and happy on Healthy Pet Net products!)  Many Thanks!

  • Carol

    10/31/2009 5:11:31 AM |

    Perfect timing! I just purchased some toothpaste and finger brushes yesterday and was wondering how to go about it!
    Thank you!

  • Corey

    10/31/2009 9:32:38 AM |

    I began brushing Prince's teeth at a very young age. He doesn't mind it at all. He is now 3 years old and his teeth look great and no bad breath.

  • bonnie

    10/31/2009 1:17:44 PM |

    @ Wendy Wasserman:

    I dont think you are doing anything wrong.

    Just like humans who brush twice a day and STILL see their dentist for a cleaning, my dogs visit the vet to get their teeth cleaned too.

    However, I find they only need to go every other year since I too clean their teeth daily or every other day at the very least.

  • Sharon

    11/1/2009 8:41:59 AM |

    Thank you! I've really tried to get all the teeth and felt like a huge failure! Now I see that I don't have to brush as many as I thought. Thanks.

    I second the request for foot care. My bulldog has lots of hair on the bottom of his feet.

    The other request is for eliminating red yeast from my bullies folds on his face. He is now getting it on his feet! Help!

  • John

    11/2/2009 11:38:46 AM |

    You make it look sooo easy!

  • Sandy

    11/2/2009 4:15:02 PM |

    That's fine when you have two good hands and can lift your dog's lip with one hand while you brush with the other.  But what do you do when you only have one hand that works well, and he won't hold  still?

  • Angie Miller

    11/8/2009 6:50:01 AM |

    Hello Dr. Sarah,
    I just wanted to drop you a note to welcome you to our team.

  • Ann Rader

    11/17/2009 8:25:53 AM |

    Brushing teeth is an excellent way to delay the need for dental cleanings at the vet's. Thanks!

  • Dr Sarah

    11/19/2009 5:02:00 AM |

    @ jo ann garmany:

    Thank you for your post!  If your poodle hates having his teeth brushed, maybe take a couple of weeks off, and then try again, making it super fun so that he looks forward to it.  Experiment with a couple different toothpastes, there are many flavors out there:  malt, chicken, beef, poultry, etc.  Good luck!

  • Dr Sarah

    11/19/2009 5:38:40 AM |

    @ Nancy:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post on our video blog.  I agree – if a pet parent can get all aspects of a dog’s teeth, then GREAT!  However, for a lot of people, that is an impossible reality, and for these guys, I say if you can get the outside of teeth, then that is better than nothing!

    I did neglect to remind people to brush the outside of the canine teeth – the big, pointy teeth in the front of your dog’s mouth – this is important too!  The reason was because Buddy (my co-star) was missing his upper front canines when we rescued him from the shelter – no teeth to brush

  • Dr Sarah

    11/19/2009 5:46:36 AM |

    @ Wendy Wasserman:

    Thank  you for your question about brushing.  If you watched the video and are using proper technique, then you are probably not doing anything wrong.  I would hate to see your dog’s teeth if you didn’t brush!  Just like people, some dogs are more predisposed to tartar buildup and periodontal disease.  Because of their breed, jaw shape, or perhaps diet, some dogs will accumulate tartar no matter what you do.  For a pet parent with this kind of dog, check with your veterinarian to see if an annual cleaning is in order.
    Best of luck to you and your fight against doggy gum disease!

  • Edna

    12/8/2009 5:02:26 PM |

    found everything very interesting and will try brushing buddy'
    teeth also I would like to know what treats do you give for
    also cleaning there teeth, I would also like to know about
    groming Buddy nails.
    thank you.Edna

  • Arthur Zelaya

    4/1/2012 9:26:04 PM |

    Good work once again. I am looking forward for your next post.

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    4/4/2012 7:45:18 AM |

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    4/8/2012 12:51:54 PM |

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  • Raymond Berson

    11/22/2013 8:32:00 AM |

    I love what you guys are usually up too. This type of clever work and reporting! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve incorporated you

  • Burton Haynes

    2/22/2014 11:00:06 AM |

    I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining!

  • Issac Maez

    2/24/2014 1:24:13 AM |

    This really answered my questions, thank you for posting!

  • Ruth

    8/4/2015 5:36:50 AM |

    Great topic.  I had 3 dogs, big ones, and doggy breath is NO fun,

  • Ruth

    8/4/2015 6:30:34 AM |

    Great blog post.  Not enough of us take our dog oral care serious enough,

  • Ruth

    8/4/2015 8:11:37 AM |

    Great post.  Many of us overlook the oral health of our dogs.  I love the oral health product you have to help along....

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