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When the folks at Bristly asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their innovative new dog toothbrush toy, I jumped at the chance. The Bristly dog toothbrush is a special chew toy that functions as a toothbrush for dogs.
As most of you know, I only review products that I would actually buy for my dogs. If it’s something that I (or my dogs) don’t need or wouldn’t use, then I simply won’t review it.
Who doesn’t need a little help brushing their dog’s teeth??? If there’s an easier way to do it… I’m all in!
Immediately, I thought the Bristly brushing stick sounded interesting (and useful) — because dog teeth brushing is one thing that is not all that easy to do. I still do it with all 3 of my dogs. But it’s not what I’d call fun.
I thought the Bristly dog toothbrush toy looked like a FUN way to brush my dog’s teeth.
MY TIP: Just as humans brush their teeth daily, so should dogs. It’s the same result! If teeth are not brushed regularly… cavities appear, teeth begin to rot, bad breath sets in, and the teeth eventually fall out. To avoid that prevent tartar and plaque from building up, teeth should be brushed daily.
So I set out to try the Bristly brushing stick with my dogs!
Here’s what I think of the Bristly dog toothbrush…
A Little About My Dogs
I have 3 dogs:
- 1 senior Black Lab/Great Pyrenees dog that is 13 years old
- 2 mixed breed puppies that just turned 1 year old
We found the puppies on the side of the road a year ago when we were out motorcycling — they were around 8 weeks old. Those pups rode in my arms… in a sack… on my lap… on the back of our motorcycle while hubby led us all on a 1-hour motorcycle trip home.
Today, one pup is 40 lbs and the other is 50 lbs. Our 80 lbs senior dog doesn’t play with toys, so I knew he wouldn’t be a willing participant in reviewing this chew toy. But the puppies will try any new dog toy you put in front of them — so they were my subjects for this review.
Even though the Bristly brushing stick is promoted as a dog toothbrush, it’s still a dog toy in my mind. Granted, a well-functioning one with a purpose. But my dogs just think it’s a regular ‘ol chew toy and so do I. It’s basically a dog toothbrush and a dog toy in one — and my dogs are going bonkers over it!
My Review Of The Bristly Brushing Stick aka ‘Brite Bite’
The first version of Bristly [the Brite Bite] was tested by more than 50K dogs. The feedback allowed us to come up with the current version, which has been enhanced to be perfectly suited to dogs’ needs. We’ve tested our new version with a large group of heavy chewers, and it’s stood up to the toughest of chewers. I am very passionate about giving our pets a healthy life, which is why I created this to provide our pups a safe and enjoyable tooth brushing experience. ~Petros Dertsakyan, Inventor & Biologist
What I Like Best About The Bristly Dog Toothbrush…
After watching my 2 pups chew on 2 of the Large size Bristly brushing sticks for awhile now, these are the good things that come to mind:
- It was designed for a dog’s ability to hold things within their front paws while chewing — the flat-bottomed paw pads make it easy for dogs to hold this dog toothbrush toy in place while they chew on it. (This is genius… it’s a brilliant design!)
- The meat-flavored taste and scent attracted my dogs right away — I didn’t really smell anything special, but they did! (They continue to like the smell and taste of it to this day.)
- It’s built to withstand heavy chewing — my dogs have chewed through a lot of “durable” dog toys, but not this one. (I’ll post an update here if they ever do. They also have an Extreme Chewer Bristly that I’d love to try someday — because I’m always looking for more indestructible dog toys to add to my list.)
- There’s a deep groove in the center of the Bristly dog toothbrush toy where you can put dog toothpaste — so no matter where on the Bristly the dog bites down, your dog will taste the delicious dog toothpaste. (This encourages your dog to keep chewing and brush longer!)
- The thick, durable bristles & grooves remove tartar build-up and food from your dog’s teeth — all the way down to the gums. (Dogs must love the feel of those bristles, because my dogs really do repeatedly bite down on the Bristly, as if looking for another angle where it will soothe their gums.)
- Cleans both front and back teeth — depending on where your dog bites down on it. (I love seeing my dogs constantly switch back & forth from the front teeth to the back teeth.)
- It works well for dogs of all sizes and breeds and comes in 3 sizes — Small (for dogs 5 to 25 lbs), Medium (for dogs 25 to 40 lbs), and Large (for dogs 40 to 80+ lbs).
- Made of 100% natural rubber sourced from rubber tree farms around the world, it’s slightly bouncy — if the dog drops the Bristly from their mouth and it lands on the floor. (The ‘bounce factor’ actually reignites the dog’s interest in this toothbrush toy.)
- While you can put dog toothpaste or other spreadable treats inside and on the sides of the Bristly brushing stick, you hope the dog won’t spend all their time simply licking it off — and they don’t! (My dogs really do work their teeth on all angles of this dog toothbrush.)
- It only takes 5 minutes of chewing on the Bristly daily to effectively brush your dog’s teeth — which is much faster and easier than manually brushing your dog’s teeth! (They recommend limiting your dog’s time spent with the Bristly brushing stick to only 5 minutes every day, so that it’s seen as a ‘treat’ more than a ‘toy’.)
What I Don’t Like So Much About The Bristly Dog Toothbrush…
There are 3 things that come to mind:
#1 – The toothpaste reservoir is such a brilliant idea. But I’ll have to find a runnier dog toothpaste — because the Enzymatic dog toothpaste that they like best is too thick to flow down into the groove, so it just stays near the top.
Enzymatic toothpaste contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that is made from the same fungus that produces penicillin. When glucose oxidase is in the presence of glucose and oxygen, it becomes antibacterial. The enzymes generate hydrogen peroxide that targets plaque and tartar. Unlike human toothpaste, which will make your dog very ill, enzymatic toothpaste doesn’t have to be rinsed from your dog’s mouth — she can safely swallow it. Dental disease is preventable with daily brushing with enzymatic toothpaste. The enzymes only have to come into contact with your dog’s teeth to provide protection from infected teeth, gum disease, pain and inflammation. Source
Oooh… you know what would work great as a snack and a toothpaste inside the Bristly?… Kong Cheese Spray! It’s like Cheese Wiz for dogs. The pressurized can should give it just the boost it needs to slide down into the Bristly reservoir.
MY TIP: You can also spread a thin coat of dog toothpaste along the bristles — on the outside of the brushing stick. It’s much easier to work the toothpaste into the bristles and let your dog enjoy it that way, instead of trying to pour dog toothpaste into the toothpaste reservoir.
#2 – It can be tricky to clean dog toothpaste that can no longer be reached from the center of the Bristly brushing stick.
My recommendation is to use a very narrow drinking straw brush, or any long & narrow nylon bristle brush.
MY TIP: You don’t want to let your dog eat things that are old, dried up, or expired. Dog toothpaste comes in a tube with a screw-on cap for a reason: to keep it fresh. Its contents change when exposed to air for too long — and depending on the ingredients, it could make your dog sick. So be sure to clean the Bristly brushing stick within hours of putting dog toothpaste (or other moist dog treats) inside it.
#3 – I found this curious on the Bristly website: “Provides more than 4 weeks of tooth brushing.”
I’m 100% positive this dog toothbrush toy is going to last my dogs much longer than 4 weeks. And if not — if the bristles should dull or fall off after that time — I’m 100% positive that I’m not going to spend money every 4 weeks to buy a new Bristly to replace a worn out one.
Even if I treat it solely as a ‘dog toothbrush’ (and not as a ‘dog chew toy’) — giving it to my dog daily for only 5 minutes to brush their teeth, then me cleaning it & putting it away until the next day — it will surely last much longer than just 4 weeks!
Perhaps my dogs simply haven’t used it long enough or hard enough to show some serious wear yet. I’ll post updates here at various time intervals — after ‘months’ of use.
The Bottom Line…
As a lifelong dog owner, I can attest to the fact that this DIY dog toothbrush saves me a lot of time brushing my dogs’ teeth. That’s a good thing, because it’s not a chore that I — or they — enjoy very much.
Because I started brushing their teeth myself when they first entered our home as tiny puppies, they’re actually used to the process and they don’t wriggle too much or squirm to get away — like most dogs do. I think they’re fine with having their teeth brushed because they like the flavors of the dog-friendly toothpaste so much!
But it’s still an awkward process to brush your dog’s teeth adequately yourself. It’s just not a natural, comfortable procedure (even though it does work) — as shown in this video:
Thankfully, now my dogs are able to clean their teeth themselves here & there while chewing on the Bristly dog toothbrush toy — and I have to spend much less time doing one-on-one teeth brushing with them. It’s a win-win for us all!
MY TIP: To ensure that your dog continues to want to brush their teeth regularly on their own with the Bristly dog toothbrush toy, my recommendation is to either: 1) give it to your dog for only 5 minutes each day (as Bristly recommends) OR 2) leave it out for your dog to chew on when they want, then remove the Bristly from your dog’s play area for several days at a time before reintroducing it again (like I do). Both ways will prevent your dog from growing bored with it, and they’ll be excited each time they get to chew on the Bristly brushing stick! It’s the same strategy parents use with children’s toys. The idea is to rotate kids’ toys, so they’re constantly excited by “new” playthings instead of feeling bored by seeing the exact same toys all the time.
UPDATE (as promised)
Here it is 4 months later, and my dogs still love their Bristly toothbrush toys! I put dog-friendly toothpaste inside them once a week — at which point, both pups will eagerly chew and gnaw on the Bristly toy for up to an hour.
The rest of the week, I generally keep the Bristly out of reach so it will always be a “special” toy for them to chew on.
Occasionally, I forget to put it out of their reach and I’ll find one or both of them chewing on their Bristly toys for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
I’ve noticed that (like most of us humans) they’re not reaching their back molars enough to scrape off the plaque that builds up over time. So I still brush their back teeth using a cheap electric toothbrush every 2 weeks. (Yes, I use an electric toothbrush that was designed for humans — it works great!)
In case you’re wondering which one, I started using this one by Oral-B — but then I switched to this one from Oral-B because the brush head is smaller and fits inside a dog’s mouth better. They do sell electric toothbrushes specifically designed for pets as well.
As you can see from the photo above, there has been no damage so far to the Bristly toothbrush toy after regular, repeated use by my two 40lb. dogs. I’ll post more updates later…
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!