Dental Home Care

Proper dental care is essential for ensuring the overall health and well-being of your beloved pets. One of the cornerstones of this care is regular brushing of your pet’s teeth. Not only does this routine help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, but it also promotes healthy gums and fresher breath. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of brushing your pet’s teeth and offer tips on selecting effective dental products to support their oral hygiene.

We’re here to help answer all your questions about dental home care for your pet:

Brushing Dog Teeth

How Do I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

Brushing your pet’s teeth daily, or at least 3 times per week, is essential in maintaining proper dental health. Here’s how you can incorporate brushing into your pet’s routine:

  • Select An Appropriate Time: Find a quiet convenient time when you and your pet are both relaxed.
  • Acquaint Your Pet With The Process: For the first few sessions, don’t use a toothbrush. Hold your cat in your lap and hold your dog as if you are cuddling. Gently stroke the outside of his/her cheeks with your finger. After your pet is comfortable with that, try rubbing your finger along the gums. Next, place a dab of toothpaste on your finger and let him/her taste it. Use an enzymatic pet toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste.
  • Introduce the Toothbrush: Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. In a slow back and forth motion, brush one or two teeth and the gum line. This gets your pet accustomed to the feel of the brush. Replace your pet’s toothbrush on a regular basis, ideally once a month.
  • Begin Brushing: Over the next several days, gradually increase the number of teeth brushed. It is important to eventually brush the rear teeth where plaque and tartar have a greater tendency to accumulate. Slowly and gently pull open the cheek with your fingers to reach the back areas. Stop brushing before your pet begins to fuss. If he/she learns to dislike the procedure and figures out that fussing makes you stop more quickly, then brushing is going to get harder rather than easier. Concentrate only on the outside surfaces of the teeth (towards the cheek). Pets accumulate very little tartar on the insides.
  • Make Brushing a Pleasurable Experience: Proceed slowly and gently. Stop each session while it is still fun and lavishly praise your pet afterwards with petting and treats. Patience, dedication, and snacks may be necessary! For optimum oral hygiene, brush your pet’s teeth every day.
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: For guidance on brushing, or for a customized home-care program, speak with your veterinarian.

Watch Dr. Cifranick brush his pet’s teeth here.


What Are Effective Dental Products for My Pet?

When it comes to maintaining your pet’s oral health, not all dental products are created equal.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when selecting dental products for your cat or dog:

  • Look for VOHC Approval: Not all dental products offer the same level of effectiveness or safety. To ensure you’re choosing products that meet rigorous standards for efficacy, look for those approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). You can find a list of VOHC-approved products on their website.
  • Avoid Hard Products: Be cautious of products that are too hard which may pose a risk of fracturing your pet’s teeth, such as synthetic bones. Opt for dental treats or toys that are safe and gentle on your pet’s teeth and gums. A good rule of thumb – if the chew would cause you pain if you slapped it against your knee, it’s too hard for your dog’s teeth.
  • Choose Quality Ingredients: Opt for dental chews and treats with limited ingredients and specific additives like spirulina, which offer added dental benefits.
  • Opt for Low Calorie Treats or Chews: Low-calorie chews are important to prevent unnecessary weight gain and support their overall health and well-being
  • Pay Attention to Digestibility: Avoiding options like rawhides that can pose digestive risks and potentially cause gastrointestinal blockages if ingested. Opt instead for products that are easily digestible and safe for your pet’s stomach.
  • WoofDoctor Approved Products: For your convenience, WoofDoctor on Wheels has curated a list of recommended dental products. You can explore these products on their website to find options that meet your pet’s needs.
  • DIY Coconut Oil Toothpaste: You can also make your own pet toothpaste using simple ingredients like coconut oil and baking soda. The lauric acid in coconut oil kills bacteria that cause tooth decay and stinky breath. Here’s a super simple recipe you can try at home and it only takes roughly 5 minutes to prepare:
    • Ingredients: Coconut oil, Baking soda
    • Instructions: Melt the coconut oil until it becomes liquid, then combine equal parts coconut oil and baking soda. Mix well and store in a container. Use this homemade toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth regularly.
    • Watch Dr. Cifranick use this toothpaste to brush his pet’s teeth here.
  • Water Additive: Consider adding a dental water additive to your pet’s routine to promote oral health. Products like Teef for Life work to preserve, protect, and grow beneficial oral bacteria, fighting against bad breath, tooth loss, and disease.

By choosing high-quality dental products and incorporating them into your pet’s routine, you can help maintain their oral hygiene and prevent dental issues in the long term.


Woman Brushing Her Teeth while Her Cat Watches

Where Can I Learn More?

Find out more about your pet’s dental health:

  • Learn Why Your Pet Needs a Vet Dental Cleaning here.
  • How to Prevent Dental Disease in Your Pet here.
  • Watch Dr. Douglas Dean’s Pet Brushing Technique here.
  • For WoofDoctor on Wheels recommended dental products and other favorite pet products, visit our full list here.
  • Learn Why Your Pet Needs Anethesia During a Dental Cleaning here.

If you’re ready to schedule your dental cleaning, please call us at (843) 966-3362


  1. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). (2019). AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Retrieved from
  2. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). (2020). AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Retrieved from
  3. American Animal Hospital Association. (n.d.). Dental Images – Educational. AAHA.
  4. American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). (n.d.). American Veterinary Dental College. Retrieved from
  5. Azarpazhooh, A. & Tenenbaum, H.C. (2012). Separating fact from fiction: use of high-level evidence from research syntheses to identify diseases and disorders associated with periodontal disease. Journal of Canadian Dental Association, 78:c25.
  6. Gardner, A.F., Darke, B.H., & Keary, G.T. (1962). Dental caries in domesticated dogs. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 140:433-6.
  7. Glickman, L.T., Glickman, N.W., Moore, G.E., et al. (2009). Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 234(4):486–94.
  8. Hale, F.A. (1998). Dental caries in the dog. Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, 15(2):79-83.
  9. Verstraete, F.J., Kass, P.H., & Terpak, C.H. (1998). Diagnostic value of full-mouth radiography in cats. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 59(6):692–5.
  10. Veterinary Oral Health Council. VOHC Accepted Products.
  11. WoofDoctor on Wheels. Recommended Dental Products.
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