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Brushing Your Canine Pal’s Teeth

May 15, 2024

Did you know that up to 90% of dogs over three have gum disease? Fido can also have a number of other dental problems, such as misalignments, abscesses, infections, and cracked or fractured teeth. Dental treatment is—or should be—an essential element of your pet’s general dog care regimen. Unfortunately, it’s frequently neglected. Brushing your dog’s teeth does not have to be difficult or time-consuming, and it is definitely not expensive, but it can have a significant impact on Fido’s dental health. In this article, a Roanoke, VA veterinarian shares some tips for brushing your pet’s teeth.

Do You Have To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing is as good for Fido as it is for us. Brushing removes food particles and plaque, which can prevent tartar from forming. That is very important! As in humans, tartar accumulation and gum disease go hand in hand—or rather, paw in paw. As tartar accumulates, it begins to push below the gum line. This eventually leads to the formation of tiny pockets that serve as a nursery for bacteria. The infection will gradually cause gum tissue and bone loss.

This is more than just an aesthetic consideration. Gum disease has been connected to some extremely significant medical conditions, including heart disease. That’s because the illness might spread from your pet’s mouth to his essential organs.

How Do I Get Fido Used to Having His Teeth Brushed?

As previously stated, starting when little Fido is still young will make things easier. The best solution is for your puppy to grow up believing that this is a normal part of doggy life. However, you can teach an adult to accept a toothbrush. It may just take longer.

At first, gently touch your furry friend’s teeth and gums with your finger. Do this while you’re patting him so he associates it with something good, like receiving affection. Then congratulate your pooch and give him an enjoyable treat.

The next step is to add some dog toothpaste. Put a small amount on your finger or toothbrush. Again, provide treats and praise. Keep doing this every day for a time until your pup gets used to it. At this point, you can start using Fido’s toothbrush.

What if My Dog Hates Having His Teeth Brushed?

This is not something you can force. You don’t want to get bitten or make your canine friend scared of having his mouth touched! Even the sweetest dog can feel anxious about such things. If Fido isn’t having it, you can do other things to keep his teeth clean. Options include dental flakes, rinses, and chews, as well as dental-formula foods.

If all else fails, put some doggy toothpaste on a Nylabone. Then, simply let your furry companion go at it!

How Regularly Should I Clean My Dog’s Teeth?

In a perfect world, Fido’s teeth should be brushed twice a day. However, even once a day is plenty. You don’t even need to clean your canine pal’s entire mouth at once. Simply do one quadrant and keep rotating. Your cute pet will still benefit!

How Many Dog Owners Brush Their Dog’s Teeth?

Certainly not as many as we would like. According to Ipsos’ research, just roughly 8% of dog owners brush their pets’ teeth.

Fido did fare better than Fluffy here, though, since only 4% of cat owners brush their cats’ teeth. Though, to be honest, cats are rarely cooperative in this regard.

Can I Use Human Toothpaste on My Dog?

That would be a hard no. Many of our toothpastes contain harmful ingredients for dogs, such as birch sugar (xylitol). In addition, your canine companion will most likely love having toothpaste that is specifically designed for him. Many dog toothpastes come in tastes Fido enjoys, including chicken and beef. You’ll have an easier time if your cute pet enjoys his toothpaste!

You also shouldnever use a human toothbrush on Fido. They are not aligned properly for his mouth. Instead, use a toothbrush designed for dogs. If it’s more convenient, thumb toothbrushes are also available.

Is It Too Late to Begin Brushing My Dog’s Teeth?

Physically, it’s never too late. This will be a lot easier if Fido is still a puppy. Adult dogs can still learn to accept this, but you don’t want to force the issue. If you’ve adopted an adult pup who isn’t having it, you may be better off using one of the other methods described above, such as dental flakes. Ask your Roanoke, VA veterinarians for advice.

What Are The Signs Of Doggy Dental Issues?

Fido can’t tell you when his teeth hurt, so keep a watch out for warning signs.

Here are some of the common ones:


As anyone who has ever had a toothache can attest, dental troubles are not a good way to improve your attitude. Your canine companion may appear unusually depressed. He may also withdraw and isolate himself rather than interact with his humans.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are frequently a sign of a dental problem, such as gum disease. You may not notice blood on your dog’s gums. Look for crimson streaks on your dog’s toys, plates, and chews. 


We are aware that certain dogs are naturally slobbery. If you own a Saint Bernard, you can expect Fido to be a little sloppy. However, if your dog isn’t regularly drooling but has suddenly begun leaving puddles on the floor, he or she may have a tooth problem. Ropy or bloody drool might also be a cause for concern.


Does your canine companion have brown or yellow gunk on his teeth? If that’s the case, he may benefit from a thorough cleaning. This will allow the gums to recover and hopefully reattach.

Bad Breath

Man’s Best Friend has many lovely attributes, but minty-fresh breath rarely appears on the list. However, your pet’s breath should not kill your houseplants. Extremely bad breath may indicate dental problems. It can also be a sign of other medical concerns. For further information on this, consult your Roanoke, VA veterinarian.


While all of these symptoms should be treated seriously, swelling around the head and/or mouth is especially alarming. This often signals an infection, which is particularly dangerous given its proximity to the brain.

Reduced Interest In Play

Fido plays with his mouth, so dental concerns are likely to limit his enthusiasm for his favorite hobbies. If your furry best friend suddenly loses interest in playing Fetch or tug-of-war, he may be suffering from dental problems.

Eating Behavior Changes

Chewing on an aching tooth isn’t fun. You may notice that your pooch is taking longer to complete their dinner than usual. Fido might also drip food out the side of his mouth. Dogs with dental problems may demonstrate a strong preference for softer food and treats. In extreme circumstances, they may not eat at all. This, of course, can have major health consequences.

Be sure to contact your vet right away if you notice any of these warning signs. 

Make An Appointment At Your Roanoke, VA Animal Hospital

Do you have a question about your dog’s health or care? Do you know or think that your canine pet has dental issues? Contact us, your Roanoke, VA  hospital, at any time!

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