Can Dogs Share Toothbrushes?

Hi Dr. Barchas, I am a pet sitter/walker and I have recently added daily toothbrushing to the activities for my walk dogs. I thought it...


Hi Dr. Barchas,

I am a pet sitter/walker and I have recently added
daily toothbrushing to the activities for my
walk dogs. I thought it would be a nice thing to
add for clients since everyone says that while
they know they should brush their dogs’ teeth
they just HATE doing it and I obviously have a
vested interest in these dogs’ health and
longevity. However, people are not buying
toothbrushes for the dogs (although I did ask them
to and provided a link to a pet catalog where they
could do so) so I’ve been using one canine
toothbrush with canine toothpaste for six dogs at a
time with thorough rinsing between dogs. Is there
any genuine cause for concern about cross
contamination here? Do I have to carry six
little, labeled toothbrushes for my charges or
absolutely force my clients to buy toothbrushes
for their own dogs?

I always enjoy reading your blog!


Barrie – have toothbrush, will travel 😉

Lexington, KY

I think you’re performing a wonderful service for your clients by brushing their dogs’ teeth. And, as you point out, you are contributing to the health, well-being, and longevity of the dogs you walk.

I am continuously surprised by how many people refuse to brush their pets’ teeth. Of course, I understand that it’s inconvenient. Nonetheless, dogs and cats need their teeth brushed for the exact same reasons that we brush our own teeth. Tooth brushing is incredibly beneficial for feline and canine health.

However, I’m afraid I can’t sign off on using the same tooth brush for all of the dogs that you walk. I realize that dogs sometimes eat garbage or other revolting and unmentionable substances, so it doesn’t seem like sharing a toothbrush between several of them would be a big deal. Nonetheless, there is a slight risk of spreading some viral and bacterial diseases between the dogs, even if you thoroughly rinse the brush between each pet.

If your clients absolutely refuse to buy tooth brushes for their dogs, you can try to find low-priced soft bristled human toothbrushes and buy them yourself. Human toothbrushes work fine for pets, and they may cost less than canine-specific brushes.

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