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clean a dog's teeth

How to Clean a Dog’s Teeth

how to clean a dog's teethHow to clean a dog’s teeth? Do you brush your dog’s teeth? Dogs don’t usually get cavities as humans do, although it can happen.

Dogs can have tartar and plaque buildup, and gingivitis which can lead to life-threatening infections and issues with the heart and liver, along with kidney disease. Keep reading to find out how to clean a dog’s teeth.

Get Started

Start brushing your dog’s teeth when they are a puppy if that is possible. Get your puppy used to having it’s teeth brushed, for when they get their permanent teeth.

If you dog is an adult and you don’t brush it’s teeth, you can start now. It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian examine your dog’s teeth to see if there are any problems before you begin.

Toothbrush for Dogs

Use a canine toothbrush or a fingertip style. Here is a Dog Toothbrush Set at Amazon that contains both. If you have a puppy or a small dog, you might want to consider a small baby toothbrush for your dog. You may have to experiment to find the best toothbrush for you and your dog.

Toothpaste for Dogs

DO NOT using human toothpaste! Fluoride levels in human toothpaste can be extremely poisonous to dogs. Take a visit to a pet store or your veterinarian and get toothpaste for dogs.

I use a poultry flavored toothpaste for my dog and she loves the flavor which makes her sit still. Choose a flavor that your dog likes. This will make the process more enjoyable.

If your dog has any of the following problems, see your veterinarian.
•    Bad breath
•    Red, swollen or bleeding gums
•    Discolored or broken teeth
•    Excessive drooling
•    Pawing at mouth
•    Change in eating or chewing
•    Tartar along the gum line
•    Bumps or growths inside of mouth

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Choose a time when your dog has been exercised and is tired. You want your dog to sit still and be cooperative. You must remain calm during brushing and be patient with your dog. Talk to your dog in a happy upbeat voice.

Before you begin brushing, place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. Let your dog smell it and lick it off of your finger. Praise your dog in the process. If your dog doesn’t like the taste, you may have to find another toothpaste.

Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and allow your dog to lick it. Lift the upper lip on one side and brush the outside of a couple of teeth that are easy to get to. If your dog tolerates it well, try a couple of teeth on the other side. Sometimes it’s easier to begin with a finger brush.

Brush your dog’s teeth once a day if you can. You can start slowly with a few teeth, adding more teeth each day until your dog or puppy becomes accustomed to brushing.

If your dog won’t sit still long enough to brush all of it’s teeth, you can brush half of your dog’s teeth today. Then, tomorrow brush the other half.

You will need to stop if your dog gets agitated with you brushing it’s teeth because you want it to be a positive experience for your dog. Give your dog a treat afterwards even if it doesn’t go well to form a positive association with brushing.

Bones and Toys

Buy your puppy or dog synthetic bones or chew toys that have a rough and bumpy surface. They will help clean your dog’s teeth and help control tartar and plaque. Be sure to get ones that are not rock hard and are designed to strengthen your dogs gums and teeth.

Avoid hard bones that can cause broken teeth. A broken tooth is painful for your dog just as it would be for you. If your dog breaks a tooth, take it to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Keep your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy to avoid problems in the future. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.

Does your dog like for you to brush it’s teeth? Or do they just tolerate it? Feel free to leave a comment or share a story.



  1. These are great tips for caring for your dog’s teeth. I am a pet rabbit owner now a days but about ten years ago we adopted a beautiful black lab puppy and trust me I remember the struggle to get that puppy to sit still for me to brush his teeth. You offer some great tips here.



    • Alice

      July 7, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Eloah! I remember the first time I brushed my dog’s teeth, it was a struggle. Now she will sit still to get a treat afterwards.

  2. This is such an interesting site! Teeth and gum care is so important for us, why should dogs be any different! I bet you could add some of your articles on veterinarian websites!

    • Alice

      July 8, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Thank you for the compliments! Taking care of your dog’s teeth will help keep them healthy and can prevent health problems. Come back and visit again. I add one or two new posts each week.

  3. The right article for me. I have two dogs, and it is always difficult for me to clean their teeth. I have a mini Dachshund, and it is hard to open its mouth and clean its teeth :(.
    At this point, I’ve tried everything except, given them a treat afterwards.

    • Alice

      July 18, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Some dogs just don’t respond well when brushing their teeth. Try giving a treat afterwards and maybe it will turn into a positive experience for both of you. Thank you for your comment!

  4. We never brushed our last dog’s teeth and like you said, he never had any problems. But we did start doing so with our current dog and boy did her breath become less toxic overnight. We’ve been doing it for about a year now and the sad thing is that our dog has whiter chompers than we do and probably an overall healthier mouth too. It’s kinda shameful really, bu at least in a positive way.

    • Alice

      July 19, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      It’s great that you are brushing your dog’s teeth. Sorry that your dog’s teeth are whiter than yours, but you really are helping your dog’s overall health and it gives them fresher breath.

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