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5 Ways To Clean Your Dogs Teeth At Home

General Advice


Health and Wellbeing


Most pet owners are eventually faced with enduring the dreaded “stinky breath.” What you may not realise is that the reason for bad breath in dogs is a result of bad oral hygiene, and could be the start of dental disease.

When sticky plaque accumulates and tartar builds on your dog’s teeth, bacteria are allowed to grow and thrive in that environment. This is what causes the bad breath to develop. If allowed the chance to continue unchecked, bacteria will cause dental disease. There are varying grades of dental disease for dogs, but in a serious case, it will be periodontal disease, which is an irreversible destructive process involving the loss of the tooth’s supporting structures. For this reason, your dog’s dental health is extremely important.

Signs of Dog Dental Disease

There are varying grades and treatments for dental disease, but in all cases, you should visit your vet for advice and treatment plans. Make a habit of checking your dog's teeth and looking for any signs of dental disease.

  • Bad breath
  • Plaque or tartar buildup
  • Reddening or inflamed gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Yellow-brown crust (tartar) along the gum line
  • Calculus extending down
  • Pocket forming
  • Gum recession
  • Bone loss

To keep your dog’s mouth healthy it’s essential to monitor your dog’s dental health, get your dog’s teeth checked at least once a year, if necessary cleaned by an expert, and maintain healthy at-home dental care habits and routines.

There is a range of dental care products specifically designed to help brush or clean your dog’s teeth at home to reduce the amount of tartar and plaque buildup between professionally getting your dog’s teeth cleaned. Some dogs and breeds have a tendency to develop tartar quickly, while others may dislike having their teeth brushed, so make sure you create a routine and habits that suit your dog.

  1. Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
  2. Dog Dental Sticks, Chews, and Treats
  3. Dental Dog Food Diets
  4. Dog Oral Rinses and Water Additives
  5. Dental Chew Toys For Dogs

Do Dog Dental Care Products Work?

The action of chewing works to prevent the accumulation of large amounts of plaque on the pet’s teeth. This film is what forms over the teeth, collecting bacteria as it builds and eventually hardening into tartar if not hindered in some way. If your dog’s teeth aren’t brushed on a regular basis, unchecked plaque can lead to serious problems.

Dogs that are given an appropriate dental dog treat, chew toys or other dental care products have been shown to have reduced amounts of plaque and tartar. Now, that doesn’t mean your pet will never need a good dental scaling and polishing, but it will help increase the time in between required teeth cleanings, and keep their mouth cleaner and healthier in the meantime.

Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)

Some dental products are made with a chemical that is applied to the chew, stick, toy, food, etc., that reduces the ability of plaque to form and stay on the teeth. Products that are most effective at doing this are allowed to display a seal of approval by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) on the package. The VOHC evaluates various dental health products for pets to make sure they are as effective as they claim to be. The products must demonstrate their ability to reduce plaque or tartar by a certain amount in order to be approved by the VOHC.

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Veterinary Oral Health Council

Dental Care Products for Dogs

1. Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrushes

Sure, some pets don’t make themselves great candidates for brushing and it’s not as easy as it sounds but if you (and your pet) can get the hang of it, brushing your dog’s teeth is an effective way of reducing tartar build-up and maintaining good oral hygiene between seeing a professional dog teeth cleaning expert.

Dog toothbrushes are available, which are designed specifically for dogs (fancy handles, angled bristles, finger attachments, and super-fine fibers), but an extra-soft bristled baby toothbrush works great too. For dogs that won’t tolerate something hard in their mouths, a gauze sponge does the trick. Its rough surface is just nubbly enough to abrade the plaque … and not the gums.

When it comes to finding a toothpaste for your dog, steer well clear of xylitol which is an artificial sweetener used in fluoride-filled or sugar-free human-grade toothpaste. Xylitol is very dangerous and can even be fatal for dogs. There is a range of dog toothpaste on the market, but we suggest trying one that is flavored. It can be the difference between a successful brush … and a little toothy violence. Next time you take your pet to the vet for a checkup ask them for a demonstration on how to brush your dog’s teeth.

2. Dog Dental Sticks, Chews, and Treats

Edible dental care products provide a treat for your pup that also serves to reduce plaque and tartar build-up. The names are often interchangeable and can be referred to as dental sticks, dental chews, or dental treats.

Some dog dental sticks are chewy treats products made in various flavours and textures and infused with a chemical that helps break up plaque film. Others are made up of a composite of materials infused with chemicals and/or chlorophyll, or other ingredients that freshen breath for a short period of time (such as mint). These products are typically made to be digestible if chewed properly.

When selecting rawhide-type or composite products, make sure they are the proper size for your dog, and always watch closely to make sure your dog doesn’t tend to swallow these types of chews too fast. If so, discontinue the use of these, or you may end up with a bigger problem on your hands – such as choking or blockage.

3. Dental Dog Food Diets

Dental dog food is formulated especially for reducing the amount of plaque and tartar that accumulates on your dog’s teeth, and in some cases may even prevent serious oral diseases from occurring.

These are kibble products made to break up easily upon chewing, which causes the food to come into contact with more surfaces of the teeth. These foods are required to be balanced, with the same nutrient content as regular dog food, but with the additional formulations that make them capable of cleaning a dog’s teeth.

Most dental care kibble and treats products are larger in size, with an airy, fibrous texture that breaks up easily so that the edges of the kibble, in effect, scrub at the surfaces of the teeth as the animal chews. Some foods also have an added coating to reduce dental plaque.

4. Dog Oral Rinses and Water Additives

If your dog doesn’t like the taste of a dental diet, or is not allowed the extra calories in the dog dental stick treats, using an oral rinse for dogs or water additive is a great alternative. Adding a product to your dog’s daily drinking water helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums by providing chemicals that fight the build-up of plaque, breaks down existing tartar, and will help freshen breath. Some additives have antibacterial action as well.

5. Dental Chew Toys For Dogs

Hard rubber or nylon dog toys with raised surfaces and grooves can be used to help massage the gums and abrade the surfaces of a dog's teeth. Some dental dog toys include sections of rope that basically work as a form of dental floss. Flavorings are typically infused into the toys to make them more interesting to the dog and to encourage chewing.

Finding just the best type of dental care product for your dog can help prevent serious oral health problems from developing. Ask your vet for specific advice and suggestions if you are unsure of which products might work best for your dog’s particular oral health. With some effort, your dog’s bad breath can be a thing of the past.