Ask a Dentist

May 14, 2020

Q: Should I brush my dog's teeth?

Graphic of dog holding a toothbrush in its mouth

A: Taking care of your pet’s teeth may not be simple, but it’s the only way to prevent complications. Just like humans, dogs experience toothaches, pains and overall body issues. Dental issues are not uncommon for pets. Most pets get periodontal disease before they’re three years old. Periodontal disease leads to bad breath and tooth loss.

There are a few ways to help your pet maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Try using veterinarian-approved toothpaste on your pet before you start brushing. Put a dab of toothpaste on your finger and gently wipe it on your pet’s gums. You may have to try different types of toothpaste until you find one your pet likes. Do not use regular human toothpaste on your pet as its ingredients may be toxic to your pet.

If your pet doesn’t seem to mind the taste, get a dog-sized toothbrush from the pet store or a miniature version of a regular toothbrush. Expose each tooth one by one and brush gently, stopping as you go until your pet is comfortable. Brush in a circular motion.

You should be brushing your pet’s teeth about 3 to 4 times a week. Encourage good behaviour by rewarding your pet with attention and treats afterwards.

If your pet doesn’t enjoy brushing, or you’re having trouble getting your pet to brushing, try dental-care-friendly chew toys from the pet store. Choose softer dental chew toys as harder toys may lead to chipped teeth or fractures. Unlike regular chew toys, your pet shouldn’t chew on dental chew toys for a long time.Share your pet's (and your) bright smiles with us; we'd love to see them.

Remember, like your pets, proper oral hygiene is important for you too. Make sure to brush and floss daily and schedule regular appointments with your dentist. Schedule an appointment today with either of our two Winnipeg locations (St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre).