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How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

The following article is courtesy of our partner, Banfield Pet Hospital. Used with permission.

For an illustrated version of this article, click to download the PDF.

When should you brush?
The best time to brush your pet’s teeth is when you are both relaxed. If your pet growls, bites, scratches or shows any other signs of aggression during the procedure, stop immediately and consult your Banfield doctor for advice.

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth


This process should be introduced slowly, and may even take several days to weeks for your pet to adjust to the treatment. Start with step 1 and move on to the next step as your pet accepts each step.

Step 1
Gently position your dog in a corner (of a sofa, chair or room) so that he will be secure and more easily handled. Carefully lift the lips to expose his teeth.

Step 2
Rub your finger over the dog’s teeth and gums for about 15 seconds to get the dog used to having something in his mouth. It might be necessary to do this a couple of times before the next step.

Step 3
Put a small amount of toothpaste specially formulated for pets on your finger, and allow the pet to taste it.

Step 4
Slide a finger brush onto your index finger and put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Gently rub the brush over your dog’s teeth and gums. Repeat this process for the next few brushing session. Because finger brushes are not as effective as regular toothbrushes, the pet should be transitioned to a regular bristled toothbrush as soon as the pet is comfortable with it.

Step 5
Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a bristle brush specially designed for pets. Place the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the dog’s teeth. Start by brushing a few teeth. As brushing sessions continue, slowly include more teeth. Build up to about 30 seconds on each side of the dog’s mouth. Remember to brush both upper and lower teeth.

Tips for Success

  • Brush your pet’s teeth at least 2 or 3 times a week, or more often as directed by your Banfield doctor.
  • Brush on the outside of the teeth only. Do not worry about the inside of the teeth.
  • Praise your pet frequently during the procedure.
  • If your pet tolerates only brief brushing, don’t be discouraged. Some brushing is better than none at all.


For Cat Parents

  • Use these same steps when brushing your cat’s teeth. Just remember, cats can be more sensitive to new things.
  • Take each step slowly and allow the cat to become familiar with what you are doing.
  • When using a toothbrush, use the smallest size available.
  • If the cat refuses to accept the toothbrush or finger brush, try using a piece of gauze, wrapped around your finger, with toothpaste on it.


Helpful Hint! Did you know that certain diets, toys and treats may help maintain the health of your pet’s teeth? Ask your Banfield doctor about which products are most appropriate for your pet!

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