Dogs can be persnickety about what they want in their mouth, unless it’s literally any garbage on the street. Of course, the one thing most dogs wouldn’t dare let past their lips is, unfortunately, a toothbrush.
After a few valiant brushing attempts, nobody can blame you for throwing your hands up. It’s hard enough to remember to brush your own teeth, much less all 42 of your goldendoodle’s chompers. But if you’re determined to join the 2% of dog parents who routinely brush their canine’s canines, you’ll need a proper toothbrush to make the process as enjoyable as possible.
Can I Use A Toothbrush Made For Humans?
Simple answer? They’re not ideal.
Human toothbrushes are designed for, well, human teeth. This goes double for hard-bristled brushes and electric rigs, which can be too harsh for dogs. If you find yourself in a pinch with only what’s left in the bathroom drawer, opt for a soft-bristled brush, though it’s generally best to stick to toothbrushes designed for dogs.
What Toothbrush Should I Use?
Easy! One made for dogs.
Just like our four-legged friends, dog toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes. Select a style that jives best with their size and temperament, and ask yourself:
- Does my dog have a wide mouth?
- Narrow snout?
- How does my dog behave when faced with a toothbrush?
- Will they require a specific angle and fit?
Once you’ve established your baseline parameters, you can move onto choosing the ideal brush that will yield the best results. Also, don’t forget to stock up on enzymatic toothpaste (this one has 3 active enzymes, the most of any enzymatic dog toothpaste on the market).
Types of Dog Toothbrushes
Dog toothbrushes generally fall under 3 categories:
- Soft bristle toothbrush
- 3-sided toothbrush
- Silicone finger toothbrush
- Fabric finger toothbrush
- Electric toothbrush
1. Soft Bristle Toothbrush
For seniors and older pups, consider this basic dual-ended toothbrush for dogs. Designed specifically for dogs and cats, the ergonomically-friendly design makes it simple to navigate around teeth and gums. The soft bristles gently brush away plaque and food debris without scraping the soft tissue.
Even if an older dog has never had their teeth brushed before, chances are they won’t flinch at the sight of this one. Depending on your dog’s size, you can choose between the larger and smaller heads for a fully-customizable daily dental cleaning.
For wrangling wriggling puppies, the shorter handle of the above small-breed toothbrush offers a better grip, and the smaller brush head is ideal for tiny mouths. Dogs of all ages can pair their brush of choice with BARK Bright triple-enzyme toothpaste, a smart (and tasty) choice to help make the brushing experience more like a treat. The best part is that the enzymes continue to help break down plaque-causing bacteria long after you’re done brushing.
Related Article: The Best Dog Dental Chews For Bad Breath
2. 3-Sided Toothbrush
Three sets of bristles means more tooth surface area covered in one pass. This brush’s rubber non-slip handle helps you keep a solid grip, and also includes a built-in tongue cleaner.
3. Silicone Finger Toothbrush
For more finicky dogs, go for a 360-degree silicone finger brush. 80% of dogs develop dental disease by age 3, so keeping plaque at bay sometimes means really gettin’ your fingers in there. Finger brushes offer incredible versatility, allowing you to nimbly shift around teeth and down to the gum-line to remove debris with bristles that are just as effectively abrasive as the traditional kind.
4. Fabric Finger Toothbrush
Bristles aren’t the only thing that can effectively clean teeth—after all, it’s the mechanical “brushing” action that removes plaque and bacteria. These finger brushes made of natural fiber and nylon are gentle, yet abrasive enough to get the job done. Plus, they’re 100% machine-washable.
5. Electric Toothbrush
For dogs who are a little more tolerant, you can try an electric toothbrush. This toothbrush has 3 vibration settings and a built-in timer, with a round toothbrush head featuring both traditional soft bristles and ancillary silicone bristles to avoid gum damage by over-brushing.
What if My Dog Refuses to Cooperate?
No matter how hard you try, some dogs just won’t take to regular teeth-brushing. For these dogs, consider the BARK Bright Dental Kit, a toothbrush-free daily dental system that includes a 1-month supply of uniquely-shaped dental chews and triple-enzyme toothpaste.
How It Works:
- Squeeze the toothpaste along the chew’s specially-designed groove.
- Give to your dog (they’ll think it’s a treat!).
- As they chew, the chew itself helps scrub away debris, while the toothpaste helps break down plaque and bad breath-causing bacteria even after they’re finished.
Related Reading: Is BARK Bright Worth it?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your dog’s A+ dental routine. Be patient, always work to make brushing a positive experience with plenty of rewards, and sooner or later those pearly whites will be shining at you from across the backyard!