A person brushes a dog's teeth.

Imagine, if you will, a life where you never brushed your teeth. The build-up of plaque, tartar, and odor. The acrid taste and ache of disease. It’s a chilling thought, isn’t it? 

Thankfully, most modern pet owners are coming to understand the important role that pet dental health has on their furry friend’s systemic health and longevity (not to mention, their breath). With that, pet owners are also starting to understand the importance of – and follow through on – brushing their pets’ teeth. 

This foundation of pet dental health cannot be overstated. It is the foundation of keeping your pets’ teeth healthy for life, and decreases the likelihood that your pet will develop more serious dental disease down the road and save you the money associated with dental issues in pets

While you may think easier said than done when it comes to brushing your pet’s teeth, it’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds. That said, it does take some practice, patience, and finesse to get the job done. Here’s what you need to know:

Open Wide!

When it comes to brushing your pet’s teeth, it’s first things first. In this case, the first thing you need to do is get both you and your pet comfortable with your fingers being inside your pet’s mouth. 

Admittedly, this is easier with puppies and kittens than with older dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens are still exploring the world with their mouths and eager to please, making it easier to establish tooth-brushing as a life skill. Older pets can be taught too, though. It may take a little longer for the both of you, but you can get there! The tuna-flavored toothpaste will help, too – we promise!

Finding a delicious (to them) pet-specific toothpaste is key to getting your pet interested in allowing your finger in its mouth. In some respects, this can be treated as a high-value treat in the realm of positive dog training, but it’s also a tool for getting them to open wide and say ahh!

Let your pet sniff, lick, ignore, go crazy for, and otherwise come to accept the toothpaste as a happy thing, then move on from there. It’s important to note to never use human toothpaste for pets! Certain ingredients in human toothpaste are toxic to our furry friends, making them a big no-no!

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

Once you’ve gotten your pet somewhat acclimated to having their mouth handled, begin to introduce your toothbrush of choice. Some pets and people prefer the textured finger covering that allows you to actually brush with your finger, while others prefer the more traditional, long-handled pet toothbrush. Most starter kits come with both, so try each out to see which you like best. 

Let your pet get to know your chosen apparatus through sniffing and the like, then add a little paste. This may or may not blow your pet’s mind and give them the crazies for half an hour. Once they’ve exhausted themselves and settled down, you’ll find they’re much more receptive to letting you actually lift up their jowls and brush their teeth. 


Learning to brush your pet’s teeth is all about patience and practice. Don’t give up on your pet after a few failed attempts. Make the experiments short and enjoyable and stop when either of you starts to get frustrated; then, try again tomorrow! After time, this will become a regular and accepted practice and you’ll both be pros!

If you have further questions, please ask at your pet’s next appointment! We would be happy to answer your questions and show you a few tricks, first-hand.