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Can you brush dogs teeth with electric toothbrush?

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is an important part of their overall health. Brushing helps remove plaque and tartar that can lead to dental disease if left untouched. While using a regular dog toothbrush is effective, some owners wonder if using an electric toothbrush designed for humans would work even better.

The benefits of brushing dogs’ teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth provides several important benefits:

  • Removes food particles and debris
  • Helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup
  • Reduces bacteria in the mouth
  • Freshens breath
  • Helps maintain healthy gums
  • Avoids periodontal disease
  • Reduces risk of other health problems

Plaque contains bacteria that release toxins irritating the gums. Over time, this causes inflamed gums or gingivitis. Eventually, tartar forms from the plaque, leading to periodontal disease. This progressive condition causes tooth loss and infections that can spread throughout the body.

By brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, you mechanically remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. This helps maintain good oral health and avoid associated diseases. Professional cleanings by a vet will still be needed at times, but home brushing reduces their frequency.

Challenges of brushing dog teeth

While brushing provides clear benefits, it can be difficult to add this task to your dog’s routine. Some challenges include:

  • Disliking the taste of dog toothpaste
  • Being unaccustomed to the sensation
  • Wiggling or moving during the process
  • Clenching mouth shut or biting the brush
  • Having a small mouth that’s hard to access

These issues may cause some owners to avoid brushing their dog’s teeth regularly. However, there are ways to make the process easier on both of you.

Tips for easier brushing

  • Use a soft-bristled brush designed for dogs
  • Start slow with just the front teeth
  • Gently rub the teeth in circular motions
  • Give praise and treats as positive reinforcement
  • Make it part of your dog’s nighttime routine
  • Try different flavors of toothpaste to find their preference
  • Be patient during the training process

Finding the right technique for your individual dog takes some trial and error. But sticking with it can lead to easier, more effective brushing long-term.

Are electric toothbrushes better for dogs?

This raises the question – could using an electric toothbrush designed for humans potentially improve a dog’s oral hygiene further? There are a few factors to consider.

Oscillating bristles

Electric toothbrushes use rapid vibrations to create an oscillating motion with the bristles. This dislodges plaque more effectively than manual scrubbing. The mechanical cleaning action helps explain why studies show electric brushes reduce gingivitis and plaque better than standard brushes in humans.

In theory, this technology could provide superior plaque removal for dogs as well. The oscillating bristles reach areas a manual brush may miss.

Small brush heads

Some electric toothbrushes have compact brush heads ideal for maneuvering inside a dog’s mouth. Their angled shape and slim profile can better access the surfaces of the teeth, especially toward the back.

Timer functions

Many electric models have built-in timers that alert you when to switch areas of the mouth. This ensures you brush all the surfaces adequately. The timers provide pacing for a thorough cleaning.

Higher vibrations

However, human electric toothbrushes operate at very high vibrations per minute – often over 30,000 rpm. Dogs have much more sensitive mouths than humans. These fast vibrations could irritate or even harm their gums.

Potential risks of using electric toothbrushes on dogs

Before using an electric toothbrush designed for people on your dog, consider these potential downsides:

  • Too harsh for delicate gum tissue
  • High speed vibrations may scare dogs
  • Electric noise could also alarm dogs
  • Metal conducts heat that may burn gums
  • The brush could be accidentally swallowed
  • Not designed specifically for optimal canine use

You know your individual dog best. The noise, sensation, and speed of an electric toothbrush may overwhelm or frighten some dogs. Additionally, metal conducts heat from friction that could potentially burn their delicate gums.

Best practices for dogs

Instead of using an electric toothbrush made for humans, it’s preferable to follow these best practices for dogs:

  • Use dog toothpaste instead of human pastes
  • Select a soft brush designed for canines
  • Choose smaller brush heads for easy maneuvering
  • Gently rub the surfaces of teeth and gums
  • Develop a consistent brushing routine
  • Use lots of praise and treats for cooperation
  • Consult your vet about home dental care

Dog toothbrushes have softer bristles gentle on gums. The pastes contain appealing flavors and safe ingredients if swallowed. Canine brushes are sized right to fit comfortably inside their mouths.

Best dog toothbrush options

Here are examples of high quality dog toothbrushes:

Toothbrush Key Features
Pemo Pet Single Dog Toothbrush Ridged silicone bristles
4.5 inch handle
Designed for small mouths
PawFlex Dual-Sided Dog Toothbrush Nylon and tufted bristles
Angled head
For medium and large dogs
Boshel Dog Toothbrush Short 2.5 inch handle
Compact head
Color-coded sizes

When selecting a toothbrush, note size, bristle type, and handle length. Look for design aspects tailored for dental care of canines. Always supervise your dog while brushing and stop if they show signs of distress.

Alternatives to brushing dog teeth

If your dog remains resistant to brushing, there are a few alternative options to help with dental care:

Dental chews

Edible products like Greenies help scrape away plaque tartar while dogs chew. They provide oral cleaning but don’t replace brushing entirely.

Dental wipes

Wipes like Paws & Pals Fresh Breath Dental Wipes can rub away surface debris. They have a finger sleeve for scrubbing and are flavored for dogs.

Dental rinses

Rinses like PetKingdom Advanced Dental Spray help reduce bacteria. Spray it in your dog’s mouth between brushings.

Professional cleaning

Veterinarians can perform a deep dental cleaning under anesthesia. This may be needed at times even with home brushing.

Signs your dog needs a dental cleaning

Look for these signs indicating your dog needs a veterinarian cleaning:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Teeth that are worn down
  • Yellow-brown buildup on teeth
  • Red, inflamed, or bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty eating
  • Swollen face or mouth
  • Behavioral changes

Schedule an exam if you notice any of these issues. The vet can assess if a professional dental cleaning is recommended based on your dog’s needs.


Regular toothbrushing provides important oral care for dogs. While electric toothbrushes remove plaque efficiently in humans, they may be too harsh for most canines. Stick with a soft bristled brush designed just for dogs. Along with proper toothpaste, technique, and scheduling, you can promote good dental hygiene.

Balance home brushing with other aids like dental chews. Seek professional vet cleanings when needed. With some patience and the right tools, developing a dental routine for your dog can improve their oral and overall health.