Just FoR Today: Do I really need to brush my dog’s teeth?

If you can do just one thing just FoR today (FoR as in “Fidose of Reality”) to change your dog’s life, how paw-tastic would that be?

We’ve  been  scouring the world of dog news and sharing with Fidose of Reality readers tips to enhance your dog’s life and things to ensure they aren’t a victim of things like dog food scares, treat recalls, etc.  If you tell yourself, “I can brush my dog’s teeth” you just might help increase his or her lifespan.

We announced our inaugural post on winter pads and paw safety this week.

We continued with dog food and treat safety.

Just FoR today, January 9, 2012: Do I really need to brush my dog’s teeth? Isn’t crunchy hard food or gnawing on a treat enough to get the tartar off?

Simply stated, in a nutshell, no.

I am a once to twice a day brusher of my dog’s teeth and have done so for over 18 years. Not once did my last Cocker Spaniel need a professional under-anesthesia dental cleaning in her entire 15 years of life. The folks at the vet used to be amazed at how tartar-free her teeth remained, and I attribute it to teeth brushing, being diligent, and taking literally 5 minutes or less per day to save her life. I feel as if I was gifted with extra years and healthy organs because of my efforts.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. If pet parents don’t attend to the dog’s teeth, oral disease can hit the kidneys, liver and heart, and seriously affect a dog’s quality of life. None of us want that.

It is super easy, even for dogs who never had their teeth brushed.

Start slow. Simply dip a bit of chicken soup broth (sodium free) on your finger and let the dog lick. At least then the whole finger near the mouth thing has been addressed. Do this for a day or two. Advance to finger toothbrush. Put water on it only and follow this paw-some video for how to do it: just for a few seconds, building up each day. Reward Fido like he just won Westminster when he is done. Praise rocks, as pet parents know.

Video link: http://youtu.be/PsNlLLSBWLU

My rule of thumb and paw: Brush my dog’s teeth as I would my own; so two times a day works famously. If you can only do it once, you just hit tartar where it counts.

Be sure the toothpaste is made for dogs. I use CET vanilla and mint, available at the vet. Dogs cannot spit and the enzymes that make human toothpaste foam are bad for them. Smile and woof it up with Fido!




  1. The first time I tried to brush Schooner’s teeth it was a little battle because he was biting the tooth brush. I put the toothbrush on the sink counter and thought I would try later…..Schooner decided we was going to brush his own teeth. Took the toothbrush off the counter and chewed the toothbrush into little piece. I won TropiClean from All Things dog blog but I have not tried it yet. Schooner saw the Tropiclean bottle and thinks he is getting his ears cleaned and takes off under the dining room table….that is his hiding place. Are you also brushing their gums at the same time?

    • I brush teeth and gums. You might want to be sitting with your pooch and petting him and already have the bottle ready to go. I would put some on gauze and massage over the teeth and then reward with a treat. I have a phrase I use, Sharon, where I say “time for teeth” and Dex knows this is a great thing. he sits and waits and gets one treat for each side that we do.

  2. My ma brushes my teeth with a wash clothe. I prefer it this way since I don’t like the feeling of a tooth brush. She finally got me some new toothpaste that I really don’t mind.Its chickyum flavored. Poodle hugs and kisses to everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.