cocker spaniel

The Truth About Brushing a Dog’s Teeth


Do you keep your dog’s teeth clean? Is it a real pain in the butt to do so? I mean, it takes time, a smaller toothbrush, special toothpaste, getting the dog used to it, and then what if the dog puts up a fuss or fight? I mean, why bother: It’s work, right? The truth about brushing a dog’s teeth is that is it easy peasy.

Imagine now, your dog on death’s doorstep, and if you had taken the time to brush his or her teeth, even a few times a week, you could have a few months or years added on to the dog’s life. Would you do it then? What if I could convince you that it is easy, it can be done, it isn’t tortuous, and in fact, can be a fun part of a nightly routine? No sermons here, just helpful advice on what has worked for us, step by step, easy to follow, in honor of your canine’s canines.

golden retriever

Doggie Dental Facts

The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. In fact, an astounding 80% of dogs have dental issues by the time they are three years old.  Establish a dental care routine by vowing to brush your dog’s teeth as you would your own. Think about this: Is your dog a member of the family? Then realize a dog’s teeth are no different than your own: They have enamel, roots, pulp, can get cavities, and even break, rot, and infect the bloodstream that filters into and through the organs.

Here’s What Works

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.

cocker spaniels

How to Do It

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 your dog as you go along and like he just won Westminster when he is done. Praise rocks, as pet parents know.  It takes a bit of practice. After the sodium free chicken broth, I worked up to teeth cleaning pads. Then I let Dexter lick the toothpaste for a week. Then the front teeth only. Then added toothpaste to a finger brush. Graduated to a baby toothbrush. It takes time but as you can see, he is a pro now. If it takes months to acclimate your dog, so be it: A little bit of prevention can go a very long way. Trust me, I really know.


Be sure the toothpaste is made for dogs. I use CET vanilla mint dog toothpaste, available at  Dogs cannot spit and the enzymes that make human toothpaste foam are bad for them.

Orastrip: This amazingly small and super effective product finds periodontal disease before you or your vet can see it. Right now, these strips are available through veterinarians but will soon be available to the masses. What you can’t see can hurt your dog. Orastrip catches periodontal disease at any stage so that you and your dog’s veterinarian can take further action. It takes about 10-15 seconds, is easy to do, and the results are ready on the spot.

Bones and hard food do not magically keep tartar away just like chomping on spare ribs and eating crunchy pretzels gets tartar of human teeth.

Yes, dogs lick themselves. Yes, dogs eat gross things sometimes. Yes, a dog’s mouth has germs, just like humans have germs.

Isn’t that even MORE ammunition in the “just brush” argument?


Do any of you brush your pet’s teeth?  Here are some pet friends who most likely have some sort of oral hygiene program in place. It’s a blog hop, too:

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  1. Not as much as I should. Pug’s mouth is really small and he doesn’t like it. I have added raw food to his diet which has helped both dog’s teeth tremendously when combined with dental chews. Now that the weather is nicer I am also going to incorporate raw meaty bones which are like nature’s toothbrush!

  2. Thanks a million for bringing attention to teeth brushing. Sadly, my momma makes me brush my teeth every single day. Every. Single. Day. I now know why. I just hope she doesn’t get the idea to brush them TWICE a day, since its getting harder around here to find places to hide. I know I prefer to get my teeth brushed daily over being put under for a major cleaning. WOOF!

  3. Yep, we brush our dogs’ teeth. They each have an electric toothbrush and a tube of enzymatic toothpaste (poultry flavour is their favourite – I bought them some fancy shrimp flavour once and they wouldn’t let me use it!) and they are both … well, if not happy, at least accepting. Jeffie took longest to get used to it because he had been neglected in the mouth department and had a horribly painful, deep ulcer from an unhealed extraction when we took him on. He bucked like a bronco and growled if you so much as touched him near the mouth – took me about ten days to get a peek inside to see what was bothering him. If he can get used to being brushed with an electric toothbrush, I reckon any of them can!

    1. WOW that is awesome – my dog was not a fan of the electric toothbrush, mostly because of the sound. Kudos to you!

  4. We start brushing teeth the first night we spend with Mom. When we are real little, it is just real quick to get us used to it and the we brush longer and more thoroughly. My sisters and I look forward to it every night before bed. It is so easy and even with three of us, it is less than ten minutes. Katie will be twelve in June and has never needed a professional cleaning. Vets are always so happy to see our healthy teeth. Don’t be lazy, just make brushing a daily habit.

  5. Excellent post. We were surprised just how important and life-saving dental hygiene is for dogs.
    Happy WW X Susie at Talent Hounds

    1. Makes me feel very at ease knowing I am doing this right and this is what you advise your clients. TY!

    1. OMD I love that video – you did so well. I love the subtitles and Bentley’s lip licking when the toothbrush was seen. This is a great one and thanks for sharing. Did Bentley come out of the tub yet? BOL

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