Dental Health

6 Simple Ways To Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

dog healthy teeth


It isn’t always easy to stay on top of your dog’s oral hygiene. With everyone being so busy nowadays, it’s hard enough to make sure you are brushing and flossing your own teeth. But dental hygiene is extremely important for your dog’s health.

Heavy dental tartar and periodontal disease can cause oral pain and discomfort and also affect your pup’s ability to chew food.

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting companion animals today. Long-term consequences of poor dental hygiene include damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Plus…who wants to be around a dog with stank breath??

Fortunately, there are several ways for you to improve or maintain your dog’s dental health that are not difficult or time-consuming.

Spending just a few minutes a day to keep your dog’s teeth clean will lead to fresher breath and a longer, healthier life. Below are six ways to help your pup keep their pearly whites tartar-free:

Book A Professional Veterinary Dental Cleaning

Just like you and I need regular professional cleanings, most dogs require a yearly dental cleaning at a veterinary clinic. During their annual exam, a Veterinarian will check your dog’s teeth and gums, and identify any areas that could be causing problems that may have gone unnoticed.

A full dental cleaning usually involves:

Dental x-rays to assess tooth roots and bones of the jaw

Scaling to remove tartar

Polishing to remove staining and prevent tooth decay

Teeth extractions – usually necessary when a tooth is found to be heavily infected or loose.

This procedure is typically done while your pet is under general anesthesia. Depending on their temperament, an anesthesia-free dental may be an option. This procedure would require injectable drugs for sedation, in the place of gas anesthesia, which can be better for dogs that have underlying health issues.

Some breeds are more prone to periodontal disease than others. Dachshunds, Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers may require dental cleaning every six months instead of every year.  Once your dog’s teeth are cleaned, you’ll appreciate the fresh breath and they’ll appreciate healthy gums and teeth.

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth Daily

Just like with humans, dogs require daily teeth brushing. I know what you’re thinking:

Will my dog even tolerate my fingers in his mouth?

Well, probably. 

What you will have to do is slowly get him used to you brushing his teeth. Be sure to use a soft toothbrush and some tasty dog toothpaste. Be gentle when making contact with his teeth, and gingerly make circular motions along the gumline. Stop if your pet seems uncomfortable. Give him a treat and try again the next day. After a few tries, your pet may be able to tolerate brushing, especially if he associates it with a treat afterward. 

Daily teeth brushing would be ideal, but if you can do it every other day or a few times a week, that is better than not brushing at all. Only use toothpaste made specifically for dogs, as human toothpaste can contain toxic ingredients like xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause liver damage if ingested. They come in fun flavors like peanut butter and beef. 

Incorporating a daily or even weekly oral hygiene routine will certainly benefit your dog’s overall health.

Try Dental Chews And Treats

Giving your dog dental chews and treats can help reduce plaque and tartar, in combination with frequent teeth brushing. Many chews and treats come in different sizes and shapes (and flavors!), so your pet is sure to enjoy them, as many are nutritious and highly palatable. 

It can be hard to tell which products are the best for your furry friend, so if you see the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance, that means it meets high standards for canine oral health.

Offer Chew Toys

Chew toys are a great way to give your dog something to gnaw on, and an even better way to help prevent tartar and plaque build up. If your pet is not exactly pleased with frequent teeth brushing, offering dental chew toys can be an option for them to help remove food particles while providing entertainment and a distraction, right?

 Better it be a chew toy than your favorite leather shoes.

 How do you know what type of dental chew toy to get? If you are checking out nonedible chew toys, you’ll want to make sure that the toy is durable and can withstand aggressive chewing. It can be harmful if a dog can break off a piece – he may choke on it or even swallow the piece, possibly causing a stomach blockage.

 When it comes to chewing, dogs have an instinct to gnaw pretty hard, so it’s best to choose a toy that is made of rubber or nylon. You could consider a rawhide chew also, but watch out for any symptoms of a tummy ache. 

Chew toys can be a nice way to eliminate boredom and also contribute to great oral hygiene.

Use a Water Additive

I get asked all the time: “Is there a mouthwash for dogs?”

Well, in a sense, yes there is. 

A water additive is a solution that can be added to your dog’s water bowl and will help support healthy teeth and gums by controlling plaque and tartar. They contain enzymes that break down tartar and eliminate bad breath. 

Some dogs may not love the taste so keep a watchful eye on your dog’s water bowl. If your pup has a sensitive stomach, a water additive may cause an upset tummy. 

Implementing water additives as a part of your regular home dental care routine can help strengthen the overall impact of additional healthy dental care habits you already have in place for your pet.

Be sure to consult your Veterinarian before introducing a water additive to your pup’s dental care routine.

dog healthy teeth

Dental Wipes

Dental Wipes prevent a safe easy way to clean your dog’s teeth. Think of it as a baby wipe that can be used to remove food particles from their teeth and gum line. Using dental wipes is a reliable option for dogs that will not tolerate brushing. They contain chlorhexidine gluconate, a compound that reduces bacteria in the mouth.

 Other wipes contain an ingredient that aids in breaking down calcium, one of the minerals that is found in dental tartar. Once used, the compound mixes with saliva to help wash away some of the film found on the top layer of the teeth. Using dental wipes is not a replacement for daily brushing or a dental cleaning by a veterinary professional.

Water additives should be used as a complement to a regular at-home dental care routine of brushing, proper diet, and the use of toys to help scrape away plaque and reduce bacteria buildup in the mouth.

Final Thoughts

Establishing an oral health routine is essential to maintaining your dog’s good health. Many of the tips above should be used in combination to keep your dog’s mouth fresh and tartar-free. As always, check in with a Veterinarian if you notice anything abnormal with your puppy’s teeth or gums. 

They will certainly appreciate it.

For the love of pets,

Dr. Gina

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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