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Tips for Brushing Pet Teeth

Janet BreyComment
             Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at

         Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at

After a big dental bill from my vet for my dog’s teeth cleaning and extractions, I now vow to be more diligent to brushing my dogs’ teeth.  Luckily, both my black lab and mixed breed dogs allow me to stick a tooth brush into their mouth to brush their teeth.  So, I have no excuse not to do this on a regular basis.

Over the years I have learned a bit about how often to brush a pet's teeth, how to brush and what tool is best to use for brushing. Based on experiences, this is what I have found to work best:

  • Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs or cats. 
  • Wash the toothbrush after each use. 
    • If the bristles get stiff, I soften them with warm water before I begin.
  • Announce it is time for teeth brushing. My dogs start licking their mouths. 
    • They know they will get a treat after their teeth are brushed.  
  • Rest the side of the dog's head on your thigh and pull the gums up on the opposite side.
  • Brush the outside of the top and bottom teeth with a circular motion – focus on the top back teeth.
  • Re-paste the toothbrush and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Finish with a quick brush on the front teeth.
  • A thin slice of a fresh carrot is well received as at treat.
    • I feel that the raw carrot also adds to gum health.
               Fresh organic carrot slices make a great dog treat - low in calories, tasty and good for their gums.

               Fresh organic carrot slices make a great dog treat - low in calories, tasty and good for their gums.

I try to brush my pet's teeth daily. When I just cannot get to it my vet suggested a chew specially designed for helping with dental hygiene - Virbac CET® VeggieDent® Chews. My lab gobbles one down in a few minutes whereas my mixed breed chews it slowly and then gags.  So I had to look for something else.

The Best Dental Hygiene Chews

The Veterinary Oral Health Council publishes a list of food and chews that meet or exceed the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s effectiveness standards for retarding the accumulation of dental plaque and/or tartar.  Greenies are on the list which surprised me. 

Years ago, I stopped using Greenies as I read that some dogs had choked on them. However,  I was told (by my vet) that they have been reformulated and are now a good choice.  I also recommend pet owners look at the county of origin as I lost a cat that ate toxic cat food made in China. 

What I have learned:

  • Dogs and cats need help with their teeth. Help them!
  • Good dental hygiene pays off with fewer vet bills and a healthier pets.
  • If your pet has bad breath, do something about it!
  • Your pet needs basic hygiene just like a human  – hair brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping and a clean place to sleep. Healthy pets are happy pets.

Good luck with your pet's teeth. Please share any tips.