We’ve all heard that dogs have clean mouths, well at least cleaner than a human’s mouth. While this may be true, dog’s can still get the same oral problems as humans, namely plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to the gum disease gingivitis.

Without proper treatment and regular oral maintenance, dogs can succumb to dental infections that affect other areas of the body, such as the heart and liver. If you want to extend your dog’s life, start by maintaining his good oral health by brushing his teeth daily. Here are a few tips to help you get started.


To start with, buy a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for brushing dog teeth. You will want a canine toothbrush that cleans below the gum line and dog-friendly toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste that contains fluoride to brush your dog’s teeth because fluoride is poisonous to dogs. Whether your dog is a puppy or a senior, he may resist the tooth brushing at first. This is normal. Once you have everything you need, here are some things to consider before diving in there.

  • Choose a time when he is calm and relaxed.
  • Get him tired out from exercise first.
  • Make sure he’s comfortable. Never hold him down or stand above him.
  • Take it slowly at first, especially if he is anxious.
  • Let him examine the toothbrush before using it.
  • Let him taste the toothpaste first.
  • Talk to him gently to soothe him through the process.
  • If he is uncomfortable with the toothbrush, try using the pad of your pointer finger to gently clean the teeth and gums. You can move onto the toothbrush later.
  • When you brush his teeth, angle the bristles to reach the gum line. Use the brush to massage the gums and clean away plaque and tartar.
  • Brush slowly, in small, gentle circles.
  • Don’t worry about brushing every tooth. Focus on three or four to start.
  • Reward him afterward with treats and lots of love and attention.

If you stick with it, your dog will start to look forward to tooth brushing time and so will you. Tooth brushing for dogs should be done twice a day, just like a human’s regimen. You can also strengthen your dog’s teeth and gums by giving him chew toys and treats that help clean the teeth and gums. When you first start brushing your dog’s teeth there may be light bleeding of the gums. This is normal. However, excessive bleeding would be cause for concern and require a trip to the veterinarian to examine the problem. Also, if brushing your dog’s teeth causes them pain, this is also a red flag that your dog should be examined.

If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s oral health, give Springmill Pet Wellness Clinic at 317-830-0037 or conveniently schedule an appointment online.

Your pets deserve the best veterinary care possible