My Dog Won’t Let Me Brush His Teeth! What Do I Do?

By Britt Kascjak

As a dog owner, you want to do everything you can to keep your dog both happy and healthy. This includes caring for your dog’s teeth. But, not every dog is comfortable with the use of a dog toothbrush. If your dog won’t let you brush his teeth, there are other dental care options available.

Why Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth is Important

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to the development of dental problems from plaque and tartar. These conditions can be painful and, in some cases, cause serious health complications.

Unfortunately, dental disease in dogs is very common. Over 80% of dogs will have some form of dental disease over the age of 3.

Brushing your dog’s teeth doesn’t guarantee that you will never have a problem. But, it will greatly reduce the risk of dental problems throughout his life.

How to Introduce the Toothbrush 

One reason your dog may resist having his teeth brushed is a fear of the toothbrush itself.

Introducing the toothbrush to your dog properly can help him overcome this fear. A well-adjusted dog will even look forward to it with all the great flavors of doggy toothpaste!

The first time you show him the toothbrush, put a little toothpaste on it and just hold it out.

Allow him to check it out, smell it, and lick some of the toothpaste off. 

When he’s comfortable around it, try brushing just the outside of the front teeth. Don’t try to do too much too quickly.

This will allow your dog to experience the feeling of the brush without being too invasive.

Each time you brush his teeth, push the boundaries a little further. Reward him for letting you brush his teeth with his favorite treats and plenty of praise.

How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth Without Brushing

If your dog is still stressed or anxious about the toothbrush, there are other options.

Like brushing, these alternatives should be combined with professional dental cleanings. Contact your veterinarian to make an appointment.

Water Additives

A dental water additive is a liquid that is added to your dog’s water dish. It contains specialized protein molecules called enzymes that work to break down tartar.

The best comparison is that they are a mouthwash that is safe to be swallowed. 

Each time your dog drinks from his dish, he is helping to clean his teeth and freshen his breath. 

Brushless Dental Gels and Sprays

Dental gels and sprays are a form of brushless dental cleaning.

Like toothpaste, they are applied directly to the teeth. But, there is no toothbrush involved, making the experience less frightening.

Dental gels can be used by placing a few drops on each side of your dog’s mouth. As he licks at the tasty treat, it will spread through his mouth. Or, you can wipe it on with your fingers to spread it across all his teeth.

Dental sprays are simply spraying the product directly onto your dog’s teeth.

Dental Treats

Arguably the easiest option is to give your dog a dental treat or chew. These are tasty rewards that work to clean your dog’s teeth as he chows down.

Dental treats often contain toothpaste that is released when he bites into the treat. It then moves through his mouth and cleans like a dental gel.

Dental chews are designed to remove plaque and tartar as your dog chews. They contain ingredients to help clean your dog’s teeth but, they also scrape tartar off the teeth with each bite.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.