Barney the agility star!
  • Brushing is best! Tooth brushing is the gold standard of oral care, and this is why we brush our own teeth twice daily.
  • Many owners are reluctant to try toothbrushing as they think that their dog is unlikely to tolerate the experience.
  • Surprisingly, many dogs respond very well and actually enjoy the new attention.
  • Introduce the session gradually. Do not expect to brush your dog’s teeth on the first attempt.
  • Start by gently handling the face and lips, perhaps with a key-word, such as ‘teeth time!’
  • Keep this session short, and immediately praise your dog. If your dog likes toys, he can then play with his favourite toy, if he is food motivated then give him dinner or a small treat (some owners use the dental chews as a treat- see later). The key is that the session is pleasurable and in no way stressful for your dog.
  • Try to pick a time of day that suits your schedule and then stick to the same time. Dogs like routine!
Barney the star
  • A pet toothpaste should be chosen. These do not contain fluoride like human pastes, have tastier flavours (such as chicken) and do not froth.
  • The brush should have medium bristles and a suitable sized head for the size of your dog.
  • Allow your dog to lick the toothpaste off the brush during each session, do not attempt any brushing yet.
  • Again, after the short session, reward your dog with praise, play or a treat. They will then associate brushing with fun and attention!
  • Perform this for at least 2 weeks before you start to actually brush your dog’s teeth. By this time, you and your dog should feel comfortable with the session.

There are two ways to start brushing the teeth...

Starting to brush, lift the lip!
  • Lift the lip on each side of the your dog’s mouth and use a circular brushing motion, aiming at the gum where it meets the tooth
  • Start at the back of the mouth and work forwards on both sides
  • Brush the very front teeth (incisors) at the end. This can be irritating for your dog, and may trigger a sneeze!
  • Alternatively, gently hold your dog’s mouth closed with a thumb under the chin, and fingers on top of the nose. This is not uncomfortable for them.
  • Then, slide the brush under the lip to brush the teeth.
  • Again, start at the back and work forwards.


Holding the mouth gently closed
  • Aim only to brush for several seconds to begin with, building up gradually as your dog accepts it happily. Concentrate on the outside surfaces of teeth.
  • Aim to brush your dog’s teeth daily. If done just once a week the benefits will be negligible.
  • Remember always praise your dog during and after brushing!



With thanks to Barney (an all-round, super-cool dog) and Hayley (an all-round, brilliant veterinary nurse)

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