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An Easy Guide to Cleaning your Dogs Teeth

Published date: 27 February 2024

According to research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College, dental disease is extremely common in dogs but sadly often not recognised by owners. One sure way to reduce the chance of a dental disease developing, is to start brushing your dogs teeth.

Regular brushing is a great way to keep their gums and teeth healthier, protect against dental disease and reduce smelly dog breath. By introducing the tooth brushing process gradually, you will allow your dog to get used to the sensation, making it an easier more positive process for both you and your pet

What will I need?

  1. A toothbrush with medium bristles and the correct size
  2. Pet Toothpaste or Gel (do not use human toothpaste)
  3. A quiet place without distractions
  4. A little time and patience

Stage 1– Introducing the pet toothpaste

Start by smearing a small amount of toothpaste on your fingertip.

Allow your dog to lick the toothpaste, they should enjoy the taste and be keen to eat it.

Stage 2– Getting used to something in their mouth

Place some toothpaste on your fingertip and with your other hand gently hold your dog’s muzzle closed.

Insert your finger under the top lip on the side of the face and rub your fingertip on the teeth. (Do not do this if there is any risk that you could be bitten).

Stage 3 – Introducing the toothbrush

  • Wet the toothbrush with water and add some toothpaste then push it down into the bristles.
  • Hold the muzzle to keep the mouth gently closed. This is to stop chewing when the brush is introduced.
  • Lift the top lip on one side of the mouth (with a fingertip or thumb of the hand holding the muzzle).
  • Gently brush the canine teeth – these are the longest fang-like teeth.
  • Keep hold of the muzzle and lift the lip on the other side to brush the opposite canine teeth. (Tip; Do not start with the incisor teeth at the front of the mouth as this is a more sensitive area)

Stage 4 – Brushing the teeth further back

  • After brushing the canine teeth, continue to brush the teeth further back.
  • To get to the molar teeth you will need to slip the brush past the corner of the lips inside the cheeks.
  • Brush the upper teeth first and then allow the mouth to open slightly to be able to brush just along the gum line of the lower teeth.
  • Increase the brushing gradually and stop if your dog is reacting more than a little bit. (Tip; Try a smaller brush if you struggle to get inside the cheek)

Stage 5 – Brushing all the teeth

  • Brush the canine and back teeth on both sides (as before).
  • Now lift the top lip at the front of the mouth (still holding the mouth closed) and brush the incisors.
  • You are now brushing the outside of all the teeth. You may want to brush for a little longer to do a more thorough cleaning.
  • For the best results brushing should be at least once a day.

Keep each session short, from only a few seconds to a maximum of a couple of minutes. Repetition is key, so repeat each stage daily until your dog is comfortable with the sensation. Then introduce the next stage by building on top of your already established routine.

Always praise and reward, this makes tooth brushing a positive experience and sets up how you expect them to behave in all your future brushing sessions. Remember diet plays a huge role in keeping teeth clean, try feeding a brand that supports dental health.

For more advice on all things teeth, check out our guide on preventing dental disease.

Written by Lucy Marcham

Lucy teaches all aspects of the Pets Corner curriculum and specialises in animal nutrition, ensuring that our staff have the right knowledge and understanding of pet diets to assist customers with confidence and care.