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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

January 24, 2023

Did you know that one of the best things you can do to keep your canine companion’s mouth and teeth healthy is brush his teeth? This may sound like a hassle, but it may actually be easier than you think. A local Sandstone, MN vet offers some advice on brushing Fido’s choppers in this article.

Start Slow

Hopefully this goes without saying, but you don’t want to try to just randomly stick a toothbrush into Fido’s mouth. Start slow, and give your pooch plenty of time to get used to the idea. At first, just gently rub his teeth as you pet and praise him. Once he gets used to that, you can start to incorporate his toothpaste and toothbrush.

Choose The Right Products

Only use products that were made specifically for Man’s Best Friend. Human toothpastes may contain things that aren’t safe for pups, such as xylitol, while our toothbrushes aren’t angled the right way for Fido’s mouth.

Positive Reinforcement

You want Fido to think of getting his teeth brushed as a positive thing, and to accept it as a normal part of his daily doggy routine. Offer your furry friend treats and praise as you brush his teeth. This will help him figure out that he’s being pampered, not punished.


You don’t have to do all of your canine pal’s teeth every single day. Do one section at a time, and keep rotating. Fido will still benefit! (This may also be easier for you, simply because it will only take a few minutes.)

Start Early

This one’s for the puppy owners; if your pooch is already grown up, you can still teach him to accept a toothbrush. However, it’s easier to get your canine buddy used to the idea when he’s still little.

Don’t Force It

If Fido is really uncomfortable having his teeth handled, don’t force him to submit. That could make your four-legged friend become wary or distrustful of you, and could even cause him to bite. Look into other options instead. There are now all sorts of different doggy dental products on the market, including treats and chews, dental rinses, oral flakes, and even tongue brushes. Chew toys are also beneficial. Ask your vet for specific recommendations. 

Our Advice on Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth in 2024

How often should you brush your dog’s teeth, and is there a recommended time of day to do it?

Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is essential for maintaining oral health. Ideally, aim to brush your dog’s teeth daily to prevent the buildup of plaque and reduce the risk of gum disease. There isn’t a specific recommended time of day to brush; the most important factor is consistency. Choose a time that fits easily into your daily routine, ensuring it’s a calm moment for your dog. This consistency helps your dog get used to the process as part of their regular schedule, making it a more pleasant experience for both of you.

What specific ingredients in human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs, and why?

Human toothpaste often contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is extremely toxic to dogs. Xylitol can cause a rapid and dangerous drop in blood sugar levels and potential liver damage in dogs. Fluoride, another common ingredient in human toothpaste, is also harmful if ingested by dogs. It can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and more severe health issues with prolonged exposure. Therefore, it is crucial to use toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs, as these products are safe and free from these harmful ingredients.

Can you use dental wipes or finger brushes as an alternative to traditional toothbrushes for dogs?

Yes, dental wipes and finger brushes are viable alternatives to traditional toothbrushes for dogs, especially for those that may not tolerate a regular toothbrush. Dental wipes are infused with enzymes that help reduce plaque and can be easier to use for quick cleanings. Finger brushes, worn on the fingertip, provide more control than a standard toothbrush and can be less intimidating for the dog. Both options are effective at maintaining oral health when used consistently and are particularly useful for gradually introducing oral care routines to a dog.

Are there any breeds that are more prone to dental problems and may require more frequent brushing?

Certain dog breeds are indeed more prone to dental issues and may benefit from more frequent brushing. Smaller breeds and those with brachycephalic (short-faced) features, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Dachshunds, are particularly susceptible. These breeds often have crowded or misaligned teeth that create niches for plaque and tartar buildup, leading to a higher risk of periodontal disease. Regular and perhaps more frequent dental care for these dogs can help prevent such conditions, alongside regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their dental health.

What are some signs that your dog may be experiencing dental pain or discomfort?

Signs that a dog may be experiencing dental pain or discomfort include reluctance to eat or difficulty chewing, especially harder foods. Other indicators are excessive drooling, bad breath, and visible plaque or tartar on the teeth. A dog might also paw at their mouth or show signs of irritation around the face. Swelling or bleeding gums and a noticeable change in behavior, such as increased aggression or withdrawal, can also suggest dental issues. If these symptoms are observed, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian promptly.

As your Sandstone, MN animal clinic, we’re always here to help! Please reach out to us for all of your pup’s care needs.