How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth to Promote Dental Health (And Avoid Oral Disease)

February 24th, 2015 by Daniel Mudrick

Earlier this month, we talked about how important proper dental care is for our pets. One of the most commonly diagnosed health problems for cats and dogs is oral disease, because they often don’t have a regular oral health regime.

And pet dental problems can become serious health concerns or lead to life-threatening complications.

One of the easiest ways that responsible pet parents like you can take care of your pet is by doing something for them that you already do for yourself every day … teeth brushing.

Just like us, dogs and cats should have their teeth brushed every day to fend off tooth decay, tartar buildup, and bacterial infection in the mouth.

But how exactly do you go about brushing your pet’s teeth?

4 Easy Steps for Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

pet denistry

1. Get a Pet-friendly Toothbrush & Pet-friendly Toothpaste

If you have a cat or a small dog, get a small pet toothbrush with soft bristles to brush your pet’s teeth. You can either get this from your veterinarian or a pet store.

If you have a larger dog, you can use a soft-bristle child’s toothbrush.

Make sure you get toothpaste made specifically for dogs or cats. Human toothpaste can be toxic to pets – and they’ll hate the taste.

2. Gently Accustom Your Pet to the Idea of Tooth Brushing

brushing your pet's teethOf course, your pet won’t love having your fingers and a toothbrush in their mouth right away. You will have to ease them into the process and get them used to it slowly. For this reason, don’t expect to brush your pet’s teeth on the first go. It will take many sessions before they are comfortable. Make sure you don’t rush it or force them, as you will create a bad association with the process.

Start by gently lifting their lip with your fingers and praising them.

Next, try putting something tasty on your finger, like chicken broth or tuna water. Let your pet lick your finger, then try rubbing their teeth with your finger if they’re comfortable. They will start to learn that this process comes with good tastes and praise.

3. Add Gauze or a Finger Toothbrush

Once your pet has gotten used to your finger in their mouth (sometimes with the toothpaste) it’s time to add the next element. Wrap your finger in gauze, or use a finger pet toothbrush (which you can get from your vet or the pet store). 

Add the toothpaste and carefully rub your pet’s teeth.

4. Start Using the Pet Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Now your pet should be comfortable with your fingers in their mouth, the texture of the gauze or finger toothbrush, and the taste of the toothpaste. You can switch to the pet toothbrush now if you’d like. Let them sniff it and lick the toothpaste off to get used to the texture first.

Then, pull up their gum and start gently brushing. Begin with the large front teeth, which are the easier ones to access. As your pet becomes more relaxed with the brushing, move toward the back teeth.

Don’t forget to praise your cat or dog and make it a good experience for them!

If your pet acts defensive or scared at any time, make sure you slow down whatever you’re doing and go back to an earlier step that they were comfortable with.

Good Pet Dental Care Is Important

Pet Dentistry Before and After In Mississauga

We know that it might seem daunting to brush your pet’s teeth, but like anything else, it becomes no problem once you (and your pet) get into the habit! If you’re struggling to brush your furry friend’s teeth every single day, aim for at least a few times a week to start.

Remember – you’re doing something very important for your pet. Good dental care makes a real difference in your pet’s long-term health and quality of life!


Clarkson Village Animal Hospital can help you keep your pet’s mouth healthy through both prevention and treatment. Make an appointment now!

Are vet visits stressful for your cat? Get our free tip sheet about how to make transportation less stressful for our feline friends!

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About Daniel Mudrick

I'm the owner and founder of Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Clarkson Village Animal Hospital has always been a dream of mine, and by caring for one patient at a time, the hospital has continued to grow. During those rare times when I'm not at the hospital, I'm at yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading to stay current on the most recent advances in veterinary medicine.

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