A Guide To Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

A Guide To Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth


Guest piece from Maria Holder

Needless to say brushing your dog’s or cat’s teeth is…challenging. However, the earlier you start, the easier it will become by the time they’re an adult.  The added benefit of caring for your pet’s teeth is not just a savior for the health of your pet’s mouth but for the health of your family. It’s a common misconception that a dog’s or cat’s mouth is cleaner than a humans, in fact they carry the same amount of bacteria and more from their time spent outdoors.

No need to stop those loving kisses from your pet! Mario Bardouille, pet behavior and training expert, is here to offer pet-parents a seamless 3 step process, where your furry bundle of joy can become familiar with different parts of the teeth brushing experience.

Step 1: Handling the mouth and face

  • Massage and handle the chin, upper and lower jaw for a couple of minutes at least once a day to get them familiar with you touching this area of their face. It’s completely normal for your dog or cat to pull away at first, reward them with a treat for the first few seconds they let you handle their face, then gradually increase the amount of time. At this stage, also get them used to the taste of their pet approved toothpaste (outlined in step three). Always look for one with a flavor your pet would love. Simply put a dab on your finger and allow them to lick it off once or twice a day and they will begin to look forward to the activity.


Step 2: Massage the teeth and gums with a mildly abrasive material

  • Puppies start getting their teeth in approximately 10-12 weeks and it’s essential to be gentle with their gums and new teeth as they mature. Use materials such as a soft cloth at first to be gentle in this sensitive area. Since your puppy will be teething a bit more than usual, it is essential to use a cloth that won’t rip easily to avoid choking hazards.
  • Cats are also generally very sensitive about this area of the face, and since their mouths are typically too small for your average finger brush, soft gauze is perfect to get them accustomed to the activity before moving on to a fingertip brush or a toothbrush specifically designed for cats.

Step 3: Toothpaste

  • Never use human toothpaste on your pet, no matter what stage of life they’re in. I recommend using a toothpaste or dental chew that has the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval, so you can ensure that it is pet safe and effective at removing plaque and tartar build-up such as Petsmile toothpaste or Denta-sticks. The great thing about both these products is that they don’t require brushing, simply add the Petsmile to your dog’s favorite chew toy or with the applicator swabs apply a few dabs to their gum line and on their tongue.

After each step offer praise, affection and treats – and repeat! Rewarding your pet will ease anxiety and have them looking forward to a tasty surprise at the end of each dental exercise.


Mario Bardouille is a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant with over 18 years of experience training dogs in NYC and the Tri-State area. Specializing in behavior modification and rehabilitation training, Mario’s career began as a Veterinary Technician Assistant and has since successfully trained thousands of dogs, as well as boarding them in his home for intensive training. In his spare time, Mario participates in Schutzhund sport with his personal dogs.


Petsmile is the only toothpaste for pets recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Petsmile’s exclusive Calprox® formula is clinically proven to inhibit plaque formation for healthier teeth and gums while keeping your dog’s breath fresh.


Cynthia Tait

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