A Photo Finish: How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth 

A dog's teeth being brushed

Pets don’t exactly have to be camera ready, but when it comes to their teeth, good habits do matter. That’s because plaque and tartar can lead to much bigger problems for them. In fact, dental disease is the most common health condition in pets, bar none. 

The good news is that a simple plan of routine oral health at home coupled with regular dental exams and cleanings is extremely effective at preventing dental problems. And when you think about avoiding a painful mouth, tooth fracture and loss, and bacterial infections that can lead to organ failure, it’s so worth it. 

With East Sacramento Veterinary Center’s simple tips for how to brush your pet’s teeth, you can start building a habit that can give your pet a lifetime of good health. 

Dental Disease Basics in Pets

Dental disease in pets is caused by plaque and tartar that stick to the teeth and migrate under the gum line. This causes bad breath and swollen, red gums. It can also make it painful for your pet to eat, cause bacterial infection and gingivitis, and lead to tooth loss or fractured teeth. 

If periodontal disease is not treated, the bacteria that cause infection in the mouth are swallowed and eventually will cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys.

How To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth 

Learning how to brush your pet’s teeth is the single best way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup that leads to disease. 

Did we just lose you? Bear with us! With a little practice and commitment, making tooth brushing a habit for your pets is not difficult or time consuming. 

Since good habits are easier to start when young, it’s ideal to begin a tooth brushing regimen while your pet is a puppy or kitten. But adult pets can also learn to accept this loving attention if you keep things positive and give lots of rewards.

  • Purchase a pet toothbrush the right size for your pet. Large dogs do well with an angled brush, and finger brushes are perfect for small dogs and cats.
  • You’ll also need pet specific toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste for pets, as it can make them sick. 
  • Gently pet the outside of your pet’s mouth so she gets used to having her mouth handled.
  • Let your pet lick toothpaste off your finger.
  • With more toothpaste, gradually slide your finger into your pet’s mouth on the outside surface of the teeth. Rub the outside of the teeth gently with your finger.
  • Substitute the toothbrush for your finger, using more toothpaste.
  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, brush pointing toward the gums.
  • Work the toothbrush in a circular motion, and eventually spend 30 seconds on each side of the mouth.
  • Focus on the outside surface of the teeth.

The Future Looks Bright

Brushing your pet’s teeth takes time and patience, but the rewards for your pet will be great. Aside from a healthier mouth, good dental habits can actually help your pet live longer! Try to end each tooth brushing session on a positive note, and remember that consistency is more important than perfection. 

If you need help or have questions about how to brush your pet’s teeth, please contact us to schedule an appointment