How to Clean Dogs Teeth

icon May 25, 2024

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is essential for their overall health. Dental hygiene for dogs is often overlooked, but it plays a crucial role in preventing serious health issues. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about cleaning your dog’s teeth, from the basics of brushing to specific considerations like the type of toothpaste to use and how to handle bleeding gums. We will also address whether you need to brush your cat’s teeth, when to start brushing a puppy’s teeth, and if it’s ever too late to begin a dental care routine.

How to Clean Dogs Teeth

How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

1. Gather Supplies:

♦  Dog-specific toothpaste:
Human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs as it contains fluoride and other ingredients that are not safe for them.

♦  Dog toothbrush:
These come in various styles, including finger brushes and traditional brushes with angled handles.

♦  Treats and toys:
Rewarding your dog can make the experience more positive.

2. Introduce Brushing Gradually:

♦  Acclimatization:
Allow your dog to sniff and lick the toothbrush and toothpaste to get used to them.

♦  Touch their mouth:
Gently touch and lift your dog's lips and praise them for staying calm.

♦  Short sessions:
Start with brief brushing sessions, gradually increasing the time as your dog becomes more comfortable.

3. Proper Brushing Technique:

♦  Angle the brush:
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.

♦  Circular motions:
Use small circular motions to clean the outer surfaces of the teeth.

♦  Gentle brushing:
Be gentle, especially near the gums, to avoid causing discomfort or bleeding.

4. Reward and Praise:

♦  Positive reinforcement:
Praise your dog throughout the process and give them a treat afterward to reinforce good behavior.

How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

The frequency of brushing your dog’s teeth depends on their individual needs, but a general guideline is to brush at least two to three times a week. Daily brushing is ideal for preventing plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to periodontal disease.

Can Dogs Use Human Toothpaste?

Dogs should never use human toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains ingredients like fluoride, xylitol, and sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be toxic to dogs. Dog-specific toothpaste is formulated to be safe if swallowed and comes in flavors that are appealing to dogs, such as poultry or peanut butter.

Do You Need to Brush Cats' Teeth?

Yes, cats also benefit from regular dental care. Like dogs, cats can suffer from periodontal disease, which can lead to other health issues. Brushing your cat’s teeth a few times a week can help maintain their oral health. Use a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to ensure safety and effectiveness.

When to Start Brushing Puppy Teeth

It’s best to start brushing your puppy’s teeth as soon as they have their first set of teeth, typically around eight weeks old. Starting early helps them get used to the process and makes it easier to maintain a dental care routine as they grow older.

When to Start Brushing Puppy Teeth

Do You Have to Brush Dogs' Teeth?

While it’s not an absolute necessity to brush your dog’s teeth, it is highly recommended to ensure their long-term health. Regular brushing prevents plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and other health issues. If brushing is not possible, there are alternative dental care options such as dental chews, toys, and professional cleanings.

pet tooth cleaning powder for dogs


  • Helpful for reducing dental plaque and preventing tartar

  • Helpful for reducing oral bacteria, removing dental plaque and getting rid of yellow teeth

  • Cleans teeth and removes odor

  • Regulates intestinal function

  • With chicken liver meal added; good palatability

Brushing Dogs' Teeth with Baking Soda

While baking soda is effective at cleaning and deodorizing, it is not recommended for brushing dogs' teeth. Baking soda can be harsh on a dog’s gums and the alkaline nature can upset the stomach if swallowed. It’s best to stick with dog-specific toothpaste that is both safe and effective.

Dog Gums Bleed When Brushed

If your dog’s gums bleed when brushed, it could be a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Here’s what you can do:

  • Gentle brushing: Make sure you’re brushing gently and not causing trauma to the gums.
  • Consult a vet: If bleeding persists, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to check for underlying dental issues.
  • Regular check-ups: Regular dental check-ups can help prevent and treat gum disease.

Is It OK If I Don’t Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Not brushing your dog’s teeth can potentially lead to serious dental problems such as plaque buildup, tartar, gum disease, and tooth decay. These issues can cause pain, difficulty eating, and more severe health problems like heart disease and kidney issues. While it’s possible to manage dental health with other methods like dental chews and professional cleanings, brushing is the most effective way to maintain oral hygiene. As a result, it is still highly recommended to brush your dog's teeth regularly.

Is It Too Late to Start Brushing My Dog’s Teeth?

It’s never too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Even older dogs can benefit from a new dental care routine. Start slowly and gradually introduce the process to make it a positive experience. Older dogs with significant dental issues may need a professional cleaning before you begin a brushing routine.


Maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Regular brushing, using dog-specific toothpaste, and starting dental care routines early can prevent serious dental and health issues. If brushing is challenging, consider alternative dental care methods and consult your veterinarian for advice tailored to your dog’s needs. Remember, it’s never too late to start caring for your dog’s teeth, and doing so can significantly improve their quality of life.

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