Brushing a dog’s teeth is no mean feat! Because of this, at Whitehorse Veterinary Hospital, we recommend getting your pet used to the routine of teeth brushing and mouth handling from a very early age!

  1. Start at a very early age…
    Even though brushing the decidous teeth is purely preparatory (they will be replaced by 42 new permanent teeth by 26 weeks of age!), it gets your pup used to the routine of handling and brushing, making the job much easier when the adult teeth appear.  It also takes many weeks to move from ‘some brushing’ to ‘effective brushing’ which is where we need to be at, by the time all teeth are through!
  2. Be aware that you will be re-enforcing behaviour whether deliberate or not…
    Consider Brushing as a training exercise. You must reward good behaviour (responses by your dog) and not reward(!!) poor behaviour (unwanted responses from your dog!). Use encouraging, soft soothing tones whilst she is being well behaved and an appropriate (dental friendly!) treat at the end of each little training session. If she misbehaves, hold her firmly using a deep “Ah” sound to get her to be still, then revert to high pitched, encouraging sounds as you gently resume handling…try and finish with a positive “good girl” whilst she is still behaving well!
  1. And remember these 3 training words… 
  • Immediate(your response, positive or negative must be as soon as the behaviour occurs, otherwise your dog will not get the link between her action and your response!)
  • Consistent (everyone (and anyone!) who is involved in the training MUST react in the same way, EVERY  time)
  • Persistent (ongoing repetition, with consistency and immediacy will get the desired result!)


So here’s a few words of advice on one way of brushing your dog’s teeth….

  • Stand beside your dog rather than in front of it
  • Try to relax your dog as much as possible by taking her on your knees and stroking.
  • Choose a good time when your dog is likely to be most relaxed
  • Choose a soft toothbrush or moistened cotton wool or a swab (white is good)
  •  Use a toothpaste especially formulated for dogs (see our nurses for details)
  • Squeeze the toothpaste between the hairs of the brush to prevent your dog licking it straight off!
  • Start by lifting the upper lips to see and gently handle the teeth;  don’t open the mouth, as this may cause your dog to wriggle (that is a step for much later!)
  • Very gradually brush a few teeth at a time in one upper quadrant of the mouth (upper left for right handers, upper right for left handers is usually best) and work gently on the outer surfaces of the canine and upper premolar teeth… remember positive tones of voice if she is behaving well, deep ‘ah’ sound if she plays up… make sure you persevere and finish on a good note.
  • Repeat the process daily, gradually increasing the time and amount of teeth cleaned as your dog tolerates. DO NOT go too far, ending up with bad behaviour… this may put the whole process back several steps! Small, consistent increases are best.
  • Make sure you never hurt your dog;  if  her teeth are too sore to brush then seek professional help;  she may need another dental before her mouth is comfy enough to allow brushing.
  • Once your pet tolerates brushing of the outside of all her teeth, you may be able to commence brushing small portions of the inside of the teeth.
    1. Warning:  do not allow young children to attempt to brush your dog’s teeth.
      For your own safety, exercise due care when brushing your dog’s teeth. If in any doubt that your dog may bite, it’s better NOT to continue…  in this case, more frequent professional cleanings will be a better and safer option.



It is important to remember to reward your dog after the toothbrushing (and even at strategic times  during it) with a treat;  either a small ‘dental friendly’ food reward (such as a ‘greenie’), by taking  her for a walk, with some playtime or with an extra cuddle…

Please refer to the following link to watch a video of Dr Shaun Wynne demonstrating how to clean your pets teeth!