Steps to Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

1. Pick an appropriate toothbrush for your pet. The best type of toothbrush is one for use with dogs and cats. It will have a long handle, angled head, and extra soft bristles. Alternatively, a finger toothbrush can be used.

2. Pick appropriate toothpaste for your dog or cat. It is important to use a paste specifically made for pets. They come in several different flavors to please even the most finicky palates. NEVER use human toothpaste, as many of these products contain substances that are toxic to pets.

3. Place the toothpaste in between the bristles of the toothbrush instead of just placing the paste on top of the brush.    This will help insure that the paste contacts the teeth and won’t fall off.

4. It’s time to get the brush with paste into your pet’s mouth. With a puppy or kitten, this can be easy if it is done in a serious, yet gentle manner.

5. For adult pets who are unaccustomed to tooth brushing, it is important to start slow. For food-motivated pets:

  • Begin by getting your dog or cat used to the idea of having their mouth, teeth and gums touched. This can be done with a piece of washcloth or gauze wrapped around your finger to wipe the teeth. A little tuna juice or broth can make this more pleasurable for your pet.
  • Put a little of the tuna juice or broth that your pet enjoys on the bristles of the toothbrush.  Allow your pet to lick, sniff, and gnaw on it gently.
  • Continue to wipe the teeth and allow the pet to explore the toothbrush daily.  Once your pet is comfortable with this process, move on to the next step. For most pets, this can be accomplished in 1 – 2 weeks.
  • For pets that are not food-motivated or less accepting of the toothpaste, tuna juice, or broth, try wiping the teeth without anything added and reward your pet in another way (e.g. for pets that like to play, get a special toy that they get to play with only after this routine is done).
  • For pets that are uninterested in the toothbrush, keep the toothbrush in sight when offering treats or other positive reinforcement. This will cause the pet to make positive associations with the toothbrush.
6. Once your pet has accepted the toothbrush and toothpaste, add the paste to the brush.
7. You are ready to brush your pet’s teeth! When brushing the teeth, place the brush where the gum and tooth meets at a 45-degree angle. Move the brush in an oval pattern and gently get the bristles into the spaces between teeth.
8. At first, try just brushing 1, 2, or 3 teeth, stop and reward your pet.  The following day, try brushing more teeth and add incrementally until you are able to brush the entire mouth.

9. The most important area to brush is the outside of the teeth. It is extremely important to brush the premolars and molars, which are the teeth furthest back in the mouth.

10. Give Fido or Fluffy a great big hug and offer copious amounts of praise, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done!!!!