How Often Should You Brush Your Shih Tzu’s Teeth?

It’s no secret that dogs are our faithful companions, and Shih Tzus are no exception. However, owning a Shih Tzu requires some extra care, especially when it comes to their dental health. Brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth may seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to maintain their overall health and well-being. It’s common for Shih Tzus to develop dental problems that require professional care. So, how often should you be brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth to ensure they stay healthy and happy? In this expert guide, we’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions on maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health, providing you with all the necessary information to make maintaining your fur baby’s dental hygiene a breeze.

Why you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth

Why You Should Brush Your Shih Tzu'S Teeth
Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential to keep your Shih Tzu healthy and happy. Just like humans, dogs are also prone to dental problems such as plaque buildup, gum diseases, tooth decay, and bad breath. It is essential to take proper measures to keep your furry friend’s teeth clean and healthy. In this section, we will discuss the reasons why you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly and how it benefits their overall health. By the end of this section, you will know the importance of dental care in your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine. For additional grooming tips, check out our Shih Tzu Grooming Tips article.

Preventing dental problems

When it comes to your Shih Tzu’s dental health, prevention is key. Regular brushing can help prevent a variety of dental problems that can be painful and costly to treat. Additionally, brushing your dog’s teeth can improve their breath odor and overall health.

Some common dental problems that can be prevented with regular brushing include:

Dental ProblemDescription
Plaque and tartar buildupPlaque can build up on your dog’s teeth and harden into tartar, which is difficult to remove without professional cleaning. This buildup can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
GingivitisWhen plaque and tartar buildup irritate the gums, it can cause inflammation and bleeding. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and can progress to more serious periodontal disease if left untreated.
Tooth decayJust like in humans, tooth decay in dogs occurs when bacteria in the mouth form acids that erode the enamel. This can cause cavities and infection.

By brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly, you can help prevent these issues from developing. This can save you money on veterinary bills in the long run and prevent your dog from suffering from painful dental problems.

It’s important to note that dental problems can be especially common in older dogs, as well as those with certain health conditions. If you notice any signs of dental issues, such as bad breath, red or bleeding gums, or loose teeth, be sure to consult with your vet.

To further prevent dental problems, you can also provide your Shih Tzu with dental chews and toys, feed them a dental-specific diet, and schedule regular professional dental cleanings. For more grooming tips, check out our article on 10 Essential Tools for Shih Tzu Grooming.

Improving breath odor

Having a dog with bad breath can be unpleasant for us and our furry friend. Thankfully, brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth can greatly improve their breath odor. Not only does it make our cuddle sessions more pleasant, but it also indicates good oral health.

Bad breath in dogs can be caused by various factors including:

Food particles stuck in teeth and gumsImproper grooming techniques
Poor digestion and gastrointestinal problemsPoor diet
Oral infections and diseasesMatted fur

However, the most common cause of bad breath in dogs is poor oral hygiene. When food particles and bacteria build up in the mouth, they can cause unpleasant odors. Regular brushing can prevent such buildup and greatly reduce the risk of bad breath.

To get the most out of brushing, it’s important to:

– Brush frequently, at least every other day, but preferably daily.
– Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs.
– Pay extra attention to the back teeth and gumline where bacteria and plaque often accumulate.
Clean your Shih Tzu’s ears regularly as infections in the ears can also contribute to bad breath.

In addition to brushing, it’s also important to feed your Shih Tzu a balanced diet and offer dental chews and toys that can help clean their teeth and freshen their breath. By taking a proactive approach to your Shih Tzu’s dental health, you can help them lead a happy and healthy life.

Overall health benefits

Regularly brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth doesn’t just improve their dental health, it also has overall health benefits. Here are some health benefits to consider:

  • Reduced risk of systemic disease: Poor dental health has been linked to a higher risk of developing systemic diseases such as kidney and heart disease. By keeping your Shih Tzu’s teeth clean, you can help reduce their risk of developing these types of health problems.
  • Improved digestion: By maintaining good dental health, your Shih Tzu is better able to digest their food properly, reducing the risks of gastrointestinal issues that can be painful for your dog.
  • Less stress: Poor dental health can cause your Shih Tzu pain and stress. Regularly brushing their teeth can help prevent this, leading to a happier, more relaxed pet.
  • Less expensive vet bills: By keeping your Shih Tzu’s teeth clean and healthy, you can avoid expensive dental procedures in the future.

Given these overall health benefits, taking care of your Shih Tzu’s teeth with regular brushing is essential. But remember that brushing is just one part of maintaining your Shih Tzu’s overall health. For more information on how to take care of your Shih Tzu’s grooming needs, check out our guides on bathing, summer and winter grooming, and haircut styles.

How often should you brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth?

How Often Should You Brush Your Shih Tzu'S Teeth?
Determining the appropriate frequency to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth can be perplexing, but it is essential for their dental health. Regular brushing can prevent dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, and it can also improve your dog’s breath odor. However, the optimal frequency to brush your dog’s teeth is influenced by various factors such as their age and dental health. In this section, we will discuss the ideal brushing frequency and what signs to look for to determine if your Shih Tzu needs more frequent dental care.

Age and dental health

Ensuring your Shih Tzu has good dental health is crucial for their overall health and well-being. The frequency of their teeth brushing routine can depend on a number of factors, including their age and dental health status.

Age plays a significant role in determining how often you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth. Just like humans, dogs go through different life stages that can affect their dental health. Puppies, for instance, have baby teeth that will eventually fall out, so they may not require the same level of attention as older dogs with permanent teeth. However, it’s still important to develop good dental habits early in life. By introducing teeth brushing and other dental care early on, you can help set your puppy up for a lifetime of good dental health.

On the other hand, senior dogs may require more frequent dental care as they age. As they get older, dogs can be more prone to dental problems like gum disease or tooth decay. It’s important to monitor your dog’s dental health closely as they age and adjust their teeth brushing routine accordingly.

Dental health is also an important factor to consider when determining how often to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth. Dogs with healthy teeth and gums may not need to have their teeth brushed as often as those with dental problems. Signs of poor dental health include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, yellow or brown discoloration on the teeth, and difficulty chewing. If your Shih Tzu exhibits any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian and adjust their teeth brushing frequency as needed.

To summarize, while there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth, considering their age and dental health status can help you determine a brushing routine that will keep their teeth and gums healthy.

AgeDental HealthIdeal Brushing Frequency
PuppyHealthyOnce a day
AdultHealthy2-3 times a week
SeniorHealthy3-4 times a week
PuppyPoorOnce a day, consult vet
AdultPoorConsult vet, adjust as needed
SeniorPoorConsult vet, adjust as needed

The ideal brushing frequency

When it comes to the ideal brushing frequency for your Shih Tzu’s teeth, it’s important to take into account their age and current dental health. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that all dogs have their teeth brushed daily, but the reality is that not all pet owners are able to commit to this schedule. Below is a table to provide a general guideline on how often you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth based on their age and dental health:

Healthy teeth and gumsMild dental issues (tartar, mild gingivitis)Moderate to severe dental issues (moderate to severe gingivitis, loose or missing teeth)
Under 1 year old1-3 years oldUnder 1 year old1-3 years oldUnder 1 year old1-3 years old
Ideal brushing frequencyDailyDailyEvery other dayEvery dayEvery other dayEvery day

It’s important to note that this table serves as a general guideline, and your Shih Tzu’s individual needs may vary. If your dog has particularly poor dental health, your veterinarian may recommend more frequent brushing. Conversely, if your dog has exceptional dental health, you may be able to brush less frequently. Always consult with your veterinarian to develop a dental care plan that’s best for your pup.

Signs of poor dental health

As a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for signs of poor dental health in your Shih Tzu. Ignoring such signs can lead to severe dental problems, causing discomfort and pain to your furry friend, and even affecting their overall health. Here are some of the common signs of poor dental health to look out for:

Signs of poor dental healthDescription
Yellow or brown teethDiscoloration or staining of the teeth could indicate plaque build-up, which, if left unaddressed, can eventually turn into tartar.
Bad breathFoul breath is a common sign of poor dental health, caused by bacteria accumulation in the mouth.
Bleeding or swollen gumsThese are symptoms of gum disease, which can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and other problems.
Difficulty chewing or decreased appetiteIf your Shih Tzu shows reluctance to eat hard food or takes more time than usual to finish their meals, it could indicate dental problems, which make chewing painful.
Excessive droolingDrooling can be a sign of a painful tooth or gum infection.
Pawing at the mouthYour Shih Tzu may paw at their mouth if they have an irritated or infected tooth or gum.
Changes in behaviorA normally playful and active Shih Tzu may become lethargic and irritable due to dental problems.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to take action immediately. Early intervention will prevent minor dental problems from turning into severe ones and ensure your Shih Tzu stays happy and healthy.

Preparing to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth

Preparing To Brush Your Shih Tzu'S Teeth
Now that you understand the importance of brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth and how often you should do it, it’s time to prepare for the actual brushing process. This can seem daunting, especially if your furry friend is not used to having their teeth brushed. But don’t worry, with patience and a bit of preparation, you and your Shih Tzu can make teeth brushing a regular and enjoyable part of your routine. Let’s dive into the steps you need to take to prepare for a successful teeth brushing session.

Gathering supplies

Before you begin brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. This will ensure that the process is efficient and stress-free for both you and your furry friend. Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • Toothbrush: Make sure you use a toothbrush that is specifically designed for dogs. Shih Tzus have small mouths, so a small toothbrush will work best. You can find these at your local pet store or online.
  • Toothpaste: Don’t use human toothpaste on your dog, as it can be harmful to them. Instead, use toothpaste that is formulated for dogs. You can find a variety of flavors at your local pet store or online.
  • Treats or rewards: It’s important to reward your Shih Tzu for good behavior during the brushing process. Have a small stash of treats or a favorite toy on hand to reward them for cooperating.
  • Towel: Keep a towel nearby in case your Shih Tzu drools or shakes their head during the brushing process.

By having all of these supplies on hand, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu has a comfortable and positive experience while getting their teeth brushed. Remember to replace your dog’s toothbrush regularly, as the bristles can wear down over time and be less effective.

Acclimating your Shih Tzu to brushing

Acclimating your Shih Tzu to brushing can be a challenging task, but it is an important one to ensure that they don’t develop dental problems. Here are some tips for acclimating your furry friend to brushing:

Start slowDon’t expect your Shih Tzu to be comfortable with brushing right away. Start by simply touching their teeth and gums with your fingers for short periods of time.
Use tasty toothpasteShih Tzus have a sweet tooth, so using toothpaste with a chicken, beef, or peanut butter flavor can make the experience more enjoyable for them.
Positive reinforcementWhen your Shih Tzu allows you to touch their teeth and gums without discomfort, reward them with a treat or affection.
Make it a routineCreating a routine by brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth at the same time every day can help them get used to the process more quickly.
Use a toothbrush designed for dogsDon’t use a human toothbrush on your Shih Tzu. Buy a toothbrush specifically designed for dogs such as a finger brush or a small toothbrush with soft bristles.
Stay calm and patientIt’s important to stay calm and patient during the acclimation process. If you get frustrated, it will only make the process more difficult for both you and your Shih Tzu.

With these tips, you can help your Shih Tzu get comfortable with teeth brushing and maintain their dental health, which will ultimately contribute to their overall well-being.

Technique tips

Maintaining proper dental care for your Shih Tzu is crucial to avoid dental problems, improve their breath odor, and benefit their overall health. While brushing your pup’s teeth may seem like a daunting task, with the right technique and tools, it can become a quick and easy routine. Here are some expert technique tips to ensure your Shih Tzu’s dental health:

Start slow:Introduce your Shih Tzu to tooth brushing gradually. Start by slowly rubbing your fingers along their teeth and gums, then gradually introduce the toothbrush.
Use the right toothbrush:Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles specifically designed for dogs. A small brush head is ideal for reaching all areas of your Shih Tzu’s mouth.
Choose the right toothpaste:Use toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs as human toothpaste can be harmful to them. Make sure the toothpaste you use is also palatable to your Shih Tzu.
Brush at a 45-degree angle:Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your Shih Tzu’s teeth and brush in gentle circular motions. Concentrate on the gum line as this is where most tartar and plaque accumulate.
Focus on the outside teeth:Pay extra attention to the outside teeth, as these are the ones that come in contact with food particles and bacteria. Brush the inside teeth too, but they are less prone to accumulation of tartar and plaque.
Provide positive reinforcement:Give your Shih Tzu plenty of praise and rewards each time they let you brush their teeth. This will turn tooth brushing into a positive experience for them.

By following these technique tips and brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly, you can ensure their dental health and prevent potential health issues.

Alternatives to brushing

As a responsible pet owner, you are probably aware of the importance of maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental hygiene. However, brushing your furry friend’s teeth regularly may not always be the easiest task to accomplish. If you are struggling to get your Shih Tzu comfortable with brushing or have difficulty finding the time, there are other options to consider. In this section, we will explore some effective alternatives to brushing that will help keep your Shih Tzu’s teeth healthy and clean.

Dental chews and toys

If you find it difficult to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth or your furry friend is not a fan of toothbrushes, dental chews and toys can be a great alternative to maintain their dental hygiene. These specialized products can help remove tartar and plaque buildup and promote good oral health.

Dental chews: These chews are designed to clean your Shih Tzu’s teeth as they chew, scraping off any plaque and tartar buildup. Most dental chews contain enzymes and abrasives that help to scrub teeth clean. It’s important to choose a chew that is the right size for your Shih Tzu and made of safe ingredients. Popular options include Greenies, Nylabone, and Whimzees.

Dental toys: Dental toys work similarly to dental chews, but they can also provide some mental stimulation or exercise for your Shih Tzu. Many dental toys are made of rubber or nylon and are designed to be chewed and gnawed on, which can help to remove tartar and plaque buildup. Some toys even have special grooves or ridges that make it easier for your Shih Tzu to clean their teeth as they play. Popular options for dental toys include Kong and Chuckit!

While dental chews and toys can be an effective way to maintain your Shih Tzu’s dental health, it’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for regular brushing or professional dental cleanings. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are also essential to catch any potential dental issues early on.

In addition to dental chews and toys, there are other options for promoting your Shih Tzu’s dental health, such as dental-specific diets and professional dental cleanings. By taking a holistic approach to your Shih Tzu’s dental health, you can help to ensure that they maintain a healthy, happy smile for years to come.

Dental ChewsDental Toys

Dental-specific diets

One alternative to brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth is incorporating dental-specific diets into their daily routine. These diets can help improve their dental health by reducing plaque buildup and promoting gum health.

What are dental-specific diets?

Dental-specific diets are dog foods that are designed to promote good dental health. These foods are formulated with ingredients that help to fight plaque buildup and maintain healthy gums.

How do dental-specific diets work?

Dental-specific diets work by using a combination of ingredients that help to mechanically clean your dog’s teeth as they eat. Some of these ingredients include larger kibble size, abrasive fibers, and enzymes that break down plaque and tartar.

Why choose a dental-specific diet?

Choosing a dental-specific diet for your Shih Tzu can be a convenient way to help maintain their oral health. These foods are easy to find at most pet stores or online, and are a simple way to incorporate dental health into your dog’s daily routine.

Dental-specific diets can offer other health benefits, such as weight control and improved digestion.

However, it’s important to note that while dental-specific diets can be beneficial, they are not a replacement for regular teeth brushing and checkups with your veterinarian.

Here is a table summarizing the pros and cons of dental-specific diets for your Shih Tzu’s dental health:

Can help promote overall dental healthMay not be suitable for all dogs due to dietary restrictions or allergies
Easy to incorporate into your dog’s daily routineMay not be as effective as brushing your dog’s teeth or professional cleanings
Can offer additional health benefits, such as weight control and improved digestionMay be more expensive than regular dog food

Dental-specific diets can be a convenient and beneficial addition to your Shih Tzu’s dental health routine. However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes and to remember that regular dental checkups and teeth brushing are still necessary for optimal oral health.

Professional dental cleanings

One of the best ways to take care of your Shih Tzu’s dental health is to schedule regular professional dental cleanings. These cleanings are usually done by a veterinarian or a veterinary dentist and can help prevent many dental issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

During a professional dental cleaning, your Shih Tzu will be put under anesthesia to ensure that they are comfortable and safe throughout the procedure. The veterinarian will then use specialized tools to deep clean your dog’s teeth and gums, removing tartar, plaque, and food particles. They will also inspect your Shih Tzu’s mouth for any signs of dental problems and provide treatment if necessary.

Benefits of Professional Dental Cleanings:

Removes stubborn tartar and plaqueProfessional cleanings can remove tartar and plaque that may be difficult to remove at home with brushing.
Detects dental problems earlyA professional dental cleaning can detect dental problems in the early stages, preventing the need for more invasive and expensive treatments later on.
More thorough cleaning than at-home brushingProfessional cleanings can reach below the gum line, which is difficult to do with at-home brushing.
Prevents bad breath and improves overall healthA dental cleaning can prevent bad breath and improve overall health by removing harmful bacteria from the mouth.

Most veterinarians recommend scheduling a professional dental cleaning at least once a year for your Shih Tzu. However, this frequency may vary depending on your dog’s specific dental health needs. Talk to your veterinarian about what frequency of cleaning is best for your dog.

While professional dental cleanings are an effective way to maintain your Shih Tzu’s dental health, they can be expensive. The cost will depend on your location and the extent of your dog’s dental health needs. However, investing in professional dental cleanings can ultimately save you money in the long run by preventing costly dental treatments later on.

Professional dental cleanings are a vital part of maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health. They are a more thorough way of cleaning your dog’s teeth and can prevent serious dental issues in the future. Contact your veterinarian to schedule a cleaning and discuss a regular cleaning schedule for your furry friend.


In conclusion, it is important to establish a regular dental care routine for your Shih Tzu. Not only does it prevent numerous dental problems, but it also promotes overall health benefits and can improve breath odor. Brushing frequency should be based on age and dental health, with the ideal frequency being daily or every other day. Signs of poor dental health should be taken seriously, such as bad breath or difficulty eating, and addressed promptly.

Preparing to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth can be made easier by gathering supplies and acclimating your dog to the process. Utilizing proper technique and offering alternatives, such as dental chews or professional cleanings, can also aid in maintaining dental health. Remember that neglecting dental care can result in painful and potentially costly problems down the road.

By implementing a dental care routine and monitoring your Shih Tzu’s dental health, you can promote a healthy and happy life for your furry companion. Don’t forget to reward your Shih Tzu for their cooperation during dental care, as positive reinforcement can go a long way towards making the process easier and more enjoyable for both of you. So, make dental care a priority and enjoy many years of healthy and happy bonding with your Shih Tzu.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Shih Tzus develop dental problems like humans?

Yes, Shih Tzus can develop dental problems just like humans, including gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

2. How often should I brush my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

It is recommended to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth at least 2-3 times per week, if not daily.

3. What happens if I don’t brush my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

If you don’t brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth, they may develop dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. Poor dental health can also lead to other health problems over time.

4. Can I use human toothpaste to brush my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

No, human toothpaste should not be used to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth. It can be harmful to their health. Instead, use a toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs.

5. Is it necessary to take my Shih Tzu to the vet for dental cleanings?

Yes, it is recommended to take your Shih Tzu to the vet for dental cleanings at least once a year. Professional cleanings can help prevent dental problems and maintain good oral health.

6. Can dental chews and toys replace brushing?

Dental chews and toys can help maintain good oral health, but they should not replace brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth. Regular brushing is necessary to prevent dental problems.

7. At what age should I start brushing my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

You can start brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth as early as 8-12 weeks old to get them used to the process. However, you should wait until their adult teeth come in before using toothpaste.

8. How can I tell if my Shih Tzu has dental problems?

Signs of dental problems in Shih Tzus include bad breath, swollen gums, loose teeth, and difficulty eating. If you notice any of these signs, you should take your dog to the vet for an evaluation.

9. Can diet affect my Shih Tzu’s dental health?

Yes, diet can play a role in your Shih Tzu’s dental health. Feeding your dog high-quality, dental-specific diets can help prevent dental problems.

10. How long should I brush my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

You should aim to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth for at least 2 minutes per session. This will allow enough time to effectively clean their teeth and gums.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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