Brushing your dog's teeth is an important part of maintaining your pet's oral hygiene and preventing dental disease. Dental issues can range from plaque and gingivitis to swelling of the gums that can become painful. Periodontal disease can cause life-threatening problems such as heart, liver, and kidney damage in your dog. Plaque can begin to develop within hours of brushing your pup’s teeth and can turn into hardened tartar in as little as 3 days. Choosing the right dog toothpaste not only makes brushing time feel like a treat with dog-friendly flavors but also ensures safe dental hygiene practices. The top dog toothpaste in 2021 contains the right enzymes and natural ingredients to keep your dog healthy. Here are our top picks for optimal dental care.
If your pet is not used to having his or her teeth cleaned it may take some getting used to. You will need to find a toothpaste your dog likes, introduce it slowly and develop a consistent routine. To help you improve your dog's dental health we’ve outlined all the important factors to consider when choosing the best dog toothpaste as well as how to go about maintaining your pup's oral hygiene.
The Value of Caring for Your Dog's Teeth
Before we get into the do’s and don’ts of doggy dental care, you need to understand why it is necessary. Periodontal disease can affect your dog's teeth and gums. Food particles and bacteria build up along the dog’s gum line to form plaque which not only causes damage in the mouth but can also carry bacteria into the bloodstream. This can make it difficult for your pet to eat and impact the organs filtering and pumping blood.
How to Take Care of Your Dog's Dental Health
Poor dental hygiene is the main cause of tooth and gum disease in dogs. Avoiding dental disease can be done easily by brushing away plaque, especially before it turns into solid tartar.
Follow these tips for optimizing your dog's dental hygiene:
Brush your dog's teeth daily or at least three times per week to prevent problems from developing
Introduce dry biscuits specifically intended for dogs as part of their diet since chewing the biscuits can assist in removing some of the plaque
Let your dog chew on dental toys which assist in cleaning the teeth and gums without causing damage
Feed your dog a proper diet that requires chewing
Take your dog for regular dental check-ups with your vet
If you suspect dental disease, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible
Important Things to Know About Dog Toothpaste
Always use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs when cleaning their teeth. Most dog toothpaste contains scrubbing ingredients that help remove stains and plaque. Look out for enzymatic toothpaste which contains enzymes that help reduce bacteria. This will lessen tartar build-up and improve bad breath. Dog toothpaste comes in dog-friendly flavors including bacon, poultry, beef, or peanut to make it a pleasant experience for them. Pet toothpaste is generally also safe for your dog to swallow without having any side effects.
In addition to using toothpaste specifically made for dogs, you need to use a dog toothbrush that has soft and specially angled bristles. Finger brushes work best for dogs under 30 pounds while longer handles offering better reach are best for larger dogs.
The most important thing when brushing your dog’s teeth: Never use human toothpaste. Most human toothpaste contains the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Xylitol can cause liver damage, insulin release, hypoglycemia, coma, and blood clotting disorders in dogs.
Dog Breeds and Dental Health
Some dog breeds genetically have worse teeth than others. This is mostly due to the shape of their mouth. Smaller breeds as well as any older dogs are more prone to dental disease. Breeds at high risk of developing dental problems include Yorkshire Terriers, Pugs, Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Whippets, Shih Tzu, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Timing and Comfort
Make sure you choose a time when your dog is calm and relaxed and choose a familiar surrounding where your pet is comfortable. Do not hold your dog down, stand above them, or take a threatening stance. Instead, kneel or sit next to or in front of them. If your dog seems at all anxious or upset, stop, and rather try again later.
Test your dog's reaction by rubbing your finger along the teeth and upper gums. This will help get them used to the feeling of something touching their teeth. Use light pressure. It may take a few sessions to get them comfortable with this before moving on.
Test the Toothpaste
Put some dog toothpaste on your fingertip and let your dog lick it. This way they can get used to the taste and texture. If they consistently refuse to lick the toothpaste after the initial taste, try a new flavor. The aim is to find one they regard as a treat.
Try the Toothbrush
When your pup is used to you opening and touching their mouth, you can start testing the use of the toothpaste and toothbrush together. Lift their upper lip and angle the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle against their teeth to help massage the gum line and remove plaque.
Brush your dog's teeth in small circular motions reaching the top and bottom on each side. Some light bleeding may occur as you move the bristles. Slight bleeding on occasion is not too much of a worry, however, if ongoing or heavy bleeding occurs it means you are brushing with too much pressure or it can be a sign of gum disease. Ask your vet for advice.
Focus on the Plaque
Start by only brushing a few teeth at a time and slowly work your way to more each day. If your dog is resistant to having his or her teeth brushed, just start with the outsides of the canines and back teeth. These are the most important areas where plaque tends to build up. If you can’t get to the insides as well, don’t rush it. Your dog's coarse tongue helps keep that area cleaner and you can slowly try to get your pooch used to the process.
Keep the mood light by talking to your pup throughout the brushing process and reassuring them by stroking them or patting their head.
End on a Positive Note
When you are done brushing, reward your dog with their favorite dental chew or lots of extra love and attention. Always stop on a positive note. Good dental care can be facilitated with certain treats and dental chews that help fight plaque build-up.
Vet’s Best enzymatic dog toothpaste is a veterinarian formulated gel toothpaste. The soothing formula contains aloe, neem oil, baking soda, enzymes, and grapefruit seed extract to gently clean plaque and tartar. The natural ingredients also freshen your dog’s breath and are safe to swallow. Although you should always provide your pet with fresh, clean water when brushing his teeth, rinsing is not a necessity. Vets Best also offers a complete dental care kit with gel in an easy-to-squeeze tube and a specially designed triple-headed toothbrush for dogs. Three bristle heads are positioned to reach around every tooth to clean effectively from all angles simultaneously. Brush your dog’s teeth several times weekly for best results.
Toothpaste Size: 3.5 oz
The toothpaste is vet-formulated with enzymes
There is an option to buy the toothpaste only or the full kit including a toothbrush designed specifically for your dog’s teeth
Vet’s Best dental gel toothpaste is safe to swallow
This Arm & Hammer tartar control kit for dogs contains toothpaste and brushes specifically designed for brushing your dog’s teeth. The toothpaste is safe and gentle containing baking soda to clean, eliminate bad breath, brighten teeth, and soothe sensitive gums. The beef flavor toothpaste makes cleaning a tasty experience for your pet pal. To maintain your dog’s oral hygiene, brush his or her teeth at least 2 to 3 times weekly.
Toothpaste size: 2.5oz
The kit also includes 1 dual-headed dog toothbrush and 1 finger toothbrush
Beef flavor toothpaste with a mint scent
Baking soda formula designed to clean and deodorize
Virbac CET Toothpaste is specifically formulated to provide natural antibacterial action, prevent tartar formation, and remove plaque for effective pet dental care. The toothpaste is safe and effective with a dual enzyme formula suitable for dogs and cats. It helps eliminate mouth odors and does not contain foaming agents which means it is completely safe for your pet to swallow. If your dog is picky when it comes to taste Virbac CET offers a range of different toothpaste flavors to choose from.
Toothpaste size: 2.39 oz
Poultry flavor toothpaste, however, Virbac also offers other flavors including beef and seafood
Nylabone provides a vet-recommended dog dental kit that naturally promotes healthy teeth and gums for your pet. The kit contains an adult dog toothbrush with an angled neck for better reach as well as a finger brush. The toothpaste formula is scientifically proven to help reduce plaque that harbors bacteria. It also helps combat bad breath and tartar buildup, promoting healthy gums. Choose from different flavors that will get your dog excited about brushing time.
Toothpaste size: 2.5 ounce
Choose from different flavors including peanut or bacon flavor
The oral care kit includes a soft-bristled toothbrush, finger brush, and pet-friendly toothpaste
Features Denta-C that is proven to help reduce plaque and prevent tartar build-up
Radius organic, xylitol-free, dental gel is designed to help prevent tartar build-up and remove plaque. The organic formula is all-natural and made with food-grade ingredients. Brush at least 3 times weekly to fight harmful bacteria and keep your pup’s breath fresh. The dog toothpaste is safe for any age dog and is even safe for humans. Radium products are cruelty-free and produced in American factories with eco-friendly practices and strict quality standard compliance.
Nutri-Vet enzymatic toothpaste is a chicken-flavored, non-foaming, toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth with Nutri-Vet toothpaste can help prevent the build-up of tartar that causes gum irritation and sensitivity. Maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene is an important aspect of their overall well-being and can also prevent other serious diseases from spreading in their body. With a natural enzyme formula, this toothpaste polishes teeth and also freshens your pup’s breath.
Toothpaste size: 2.5 oz
Contains glucose oxidase and hydrated silica to help kill bacteria and break down plaque
Contains sodium benzoate to keep the toothpaste free from microorganisms and sorbitol to stop it from drying out
Petrodex Advanced Dental Care toothpaste helps reduce plaque and tartar formation with a patented enzyme formula. The toothpaste is non-foaming which means it is safe for your pet to swallow and does not require rinsing. Not only does the formula fight bacteria but it also targets bad breath. Your dog or puppy will love brushing time with this poultry-flavored paste. For the best dental care, brush your dog’s teeth with a soft-bristled pet toothbrush or finger brush at least 3 times weekly.
Size: 6.2 oz
No rinsing required and safe to swallow
Safe for all dog breeds and ideal for puppies
Available in poultry flavor
People Also Asked
Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BRUSH YOUR DOG'S TEETH?
A: Working towards a daily brushing routine is ideal, however, if your dog's mouth is healthy, brushing just three days a week can have a great impact.
Q: DO YOU NEED TO USE TOOTHPASTE WHEN BRUSHING YOUR DOG'S TEETH?
A: An alternative to using dog toothpaste is to brush your dog's teeth with coconut oil. The lauric acid in coconut oil destroys the bacteria that cause tooth decay and smelly breath.
Q: WHY IS THERE BROWN RESIDUE ON MY DOG'S TEETH?
A: A build-up of hardened dental plaque is referred to as tartar or dental calculus. This mineral deposit sometimes appears yellow, orange, greenish, or brown. It is usually along the gum line or inside of the teeth and can cause infection if left unchecked.
Amber grew up having golden retrievers and will always have a special place in her heart for the breed. Her love for all things "dog" helped her become a general manager at a small kennel in Ohio for several years. Acquainting dogs and understanding both their needs and limitations have given her deep insights into the boarding process many dogs face in their lives. From consistent details to play time to food and bed time, Amber will always remember the small influences she was able to present to every pooch she cared for.