How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth 2023

As a loving pet parent, you’ve probably wondered, “how do I clean my dog’s teeth?” You’re not alone. Oral hygiene is a crucial aspect of dog care that often gets overlooked. Just like humans, dogs also need their teeth cleaned regularly to maintain their overall health and prevent dental diseases.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to keep your dog’s teeth sparkling clean. From brushing techniques to dental treats, and even alternatives if your furry friend isn’t a fan of toothbrushes, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also delve into common dental problems to watch out for, ensuring your pup keeps flashing that healthy, happy smile.

So, buckle up and let’s dive into the world of canine dental care. It’s easier than you might think, and the benefits for your dog are enormous.

Is Dental Care Necessary for Dogs?

Did you know that like us humans, dogs also need a good dental routine to maintain their overall health? You may think, “It’s just a dog, why do they need to brush their teeth?” But, you’ll be surprised to find out how closely dental care impacts a dog’s health.

Just like us, our furry friends can also develop a range of dental problems like plaque buildup, gingivitis, bad breath, and even serious periodontal disease. If left untreated, these issues can lead to more severe health complications, affecting your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys.

To put it simply, taking care of your dog’s teeth is just as important as feeding them a balanced diet or giving them regular exercise. It helps ensure that your pup enjoys a long, healthy, and happy life with you.

Risks and Costs of Dog Teeth Cleaning

Dog teeth cleaning is generally a safe procedure when performed by a professional, but like any procedure, it has its risks. These can range from mild irritation caused by cleaning to more serious risks associated with anesthesia, such as allergic reactions or, in rare cases, cardiac events.

When considering the costs, teeth cleaning for dogs varies widely depending on the complexity of the procedure. Basic cleaning might cost a few hundred dollars, while a more intensive procedure, involving extractions, might go into the thousands.

Remember, prevention is always better (and cheaper!) than cure. Regular at-home care can prevent severe dental issues and save you from hefty vet bills in the future.

What Will Happen During My Dog’s Dental Cleaning Appointment?

A professional dental cleaning for dogs is more involved than the brushing at home. It usually requires general anesthesia. Your vet will examine your dog’s mouth, remove plaque and tartar build-up, and may take X-rays if needed. They will also probe around the gums to check for any signs of periodontal disease.

The teeth are then polished and a sealant is applied to prevent further plaque build-up. Sometimes, extractions might be necessary if some teeth are beyond saving.

How Long Does It Take For a Dog to Recover From Teeth Cleaning?

Recovery time from a dental cleaning procedure is relatively short, usually within 24 hours. After the anesthesia wears off, your dog might be a bit groggy, but should bounce back to their usual self by the next day. If your pet had any tooth extractions or more intensive procedures, recovery might take a bit longer, and your vet will provide specific instructions for post-procedure care.

How to Clean Dog Teeth

One of the cornerstones of maintaining your dog’s oral health is regular teeth cleaning. While it might sound like a challenging task, with the right approach, patience, and consistency, cleaning your dog’s teeth can become a routine both you and your furry friend get used to.

The Necessity of Brushing a Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth might not sound like a fun activity, but it’s crucial for their oral health. Regular brushing helps prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, which are the main causes of gum disease and bad breath in dogs. More than that, it can help prevent serious health issues that stem from poor dental health.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Positioning Yourself Non-threateningly

First things first, make sure both you and your dog are comfortable. You don’t want to make your pup feel threatened. Crouch or sit beside them in a quiet, comfortable place and ensure your body language is relaxed and friendly.

Introducing Your Dog to Light Pressure on Their Teeth and Gums

Before introducing a toothbrush, get your dog used to having your fingers around their mouth and teeth. Gently lift their lip and lightly touch their teeth and gums. Start with brief sessions and gradually increase the time as they get used to it.

Allowing Your Dog to Taste the Dog Toothpaste

Dog toothpaste usually comes in dog-friendly flavors like chicken or beef. Let them have a taste before you start brushing, so they associate the toothpaste with a positive experience. Remember, never use human toothpaste as it can be harmful to dogs.

Beginning the Brushing Process, Being Careful Not to Apply Too Much Pressure

Once your dog is comfortable, start brushing gently. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and brush in small, circular motions. Focus on the gum line, where most of the bacteria and food particles gather. Make sure you’re gentle and don’t brush too hard to avoid gum damage.

Alternatives to Brushing: 9 Easy Ways to Clean Dog Teeth

If brushing your dog’s teeth seems like a daunting task or if your pup is not too fond of the toothbrush, fret not! There are a variety of effective alternatives that can help maintain your dog’s oral hygiene and keep that gleaming doggy smile intact.

Dog Chews

Dog chews are an easy and effective way to clean your pup’s teeth. They’re specially designed to remove plaque and tartar as your dog chews. Plus, they’re an excellent source of entertainment for your furry friend. Just make sure the chew is the right size for your dog to prevent choking hazards.

Chew Toys

Similar to dog chews, chew toys also help to remove plaque and stimulate your dog’s gums. Many of them are designed with dental health in mind and can reach those hard-to-clean spots. It’s a fun way for your dog to “brush” their teeth themselves!

Oral Sprays and Gels

Canine oral sprays and gels contain enzymes that help to break down plaque and freshen your dog’s breath. They’re straightforward to apply – just spray or rub into your dog’s mouth, and the product will do its work. They can be a convenient option for dogs that resist brushing.

Dental Wipes

Dental wipes are like a cross between brushing and using a mouthwash. They’re perfect for wiping away food particles and bacteria from your dog’s teeth and gums. Dental wipes can be especially useful for dogs that find brushing uncomfortable or frightening.

Dental Treats

Dental treats are a simple and enjoyable way to help clean your dog’s teeth. They’re often designed with ridges and grooves to clean teeth and massage gums as your dog chews. They also freshen breath and, in many cases, your dog will consider them a tasty snack!

Dog Bones

Raw bones can scrape off plaque and tartar just like a toothbrush. They’re a natural source of calcium and other nutrients. However, it’s crucial to choose bones carefully. Some can splinter and cause damage, so it’s always best to ask your vet for recommendations.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural substance that can improve your dog’s dental health. It has antibacterial properties, which can help to eliminate harmful bacteria in your dog’s mouth. Try brushing your dog’s teeth with coconut oil or adding a little to their food.

A Variety of Healthy Foods and Treats for Dental Cleaning

Certain foods can also help to clean your dog’s teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples can scrape off plaque, while hard cheeses can balance pH levels in your dog’s mouth and reduce bacteria. Always introduce new foods gradually and in moderation.


Probiotics for dogs are designed to support oral health by balancing the bacteria inside your dog’s mouth. They can be found in certain types of dog food and treats, or as a supplement that can be added to your dog’s regular diet.

These alternatives offer various ways to clean your dog’s teeth without a toothbrush. However, remember that they are not replacements for regular check-ups with your vet. Regular professional cleanings are essential for maintaining your dog’s oral health.

How Often Should Your Dog’s Teeth Be Cleaned?

The frequency of teeth cleaning varies depending on your dog’s age, breed, diet, and overall health. However, as a general rule, try to brush your dog’s teeth daily. This might seem like a lot, but considering that we brush our teeth at least twice a day, it isn’t excessive. Regular brushing helps keep your dog’s mouth clean and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. If daily brushing seems too challenging, aim for at least three times a week.

For professional dental cleaning, consult your vet. They might recommend a schedule based on your dog’s unique needs, but most dogs benefit from a professional cleaning once a year.

What Does a Healthy Dog Mouth Look Like?

A healthy dog’s mouth should have pink gums (although some dogs naturally have pigmented gums), clean teeth without visible tartar or plaque, and fresh breath. Yes, you read that right! A healthy dog’s breath shouldn’t be overly foul. Stinky breath might indicate dental issues.

The teeth should be clean, without any brownish buildup, and the gums should not be swollen or bleeding. If you notice any of these signs or if your dog seems to be in pain when eating or touching their mouth, it’s time to visit the vet.

Common Dental Problems to Watch For

As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to stay vigilant about potential dental issues your dog may face. Here are some of the most common dental problems in dogs and what to look for to keep your pup’s pearly whites in check.


Cysts in a dog’s mouth can be a significant cause for concern. These fluid-filled sacs can form anywhere in your dog’s oral cavity, including under the tongue or along the gumline. Symptoms may include visible swelling, discomfort while eating, or excessive drooling. It’s essential to get any unusual growths in your dog’s mouth checked out by a vet.


Halitosis, or bad breath, is more than just an unpleasant smell—it can often be a sign of underlying dental problems. While it’s normal for your dog’s breath to have a slight odor, exceptionally foul breath could indicate periodontal disease, oral tumors, or other health issues.


Plaque is a sticky film that accumulates on your dog’s teeth, particularly near the gumline. It’s formed by bacteria and can lead to tartar if not removed regularly through brushing or dental chews. Over time, excessive plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Proliferating Gum Disease

Also known as gingival hyperplasia, proliferating gum disease is a condition where the gum tissue grows over the teeth, creating an environment conducive to bacterial growth. This condition can lead to severe periodontal disease if left untreated. Signs can include visibly overgrown gums and difficulty eating.


Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums due to the buildup of plaque. It’s the first stage of periodontal disease and is reversible with prompt care. If your dog’s gums are red, swollen, or bleed easily, it could be a sign of gingivitis.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs. It involves inflammation and infection affecting the structures around the teeth, including the gums and bone. If untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and systemic health problems. Symptoms can be subtle but may include bad breath, difficulty eating, drooling, and changes in behavior.

Remember, preventive care is the best way to keep your dog’s mouth healthy. Regular dental check-ups, coupled with at-home oral care routines, can help keep these common dental problems at bay. If you notice any signs of dental disease, make sure to consult your vet right away.

Quick Answers for Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth

Taking care of your dog’s dental health involves more than just regular brushing. Here are some common questions pet parents often ask:

How Can I Get Plaque Off My Dog’s Teeth?

Plaque can be removed from your dog’s teeth with regular brushing using a dog-friendly toothpaste. For hard-to-reach areas, dental chews and treats can help. If plaque hardens into tartar, however, a professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian will be required.

Do Carrots Clean Dogs’ Teeth?

Carrots can indeed help clean your dog’s teeth. Chewing on crunchy carrots can help scrape off some plaque and stimulate your dog’s gums. However, they shouldn’t replace regular brushing or professional cleanings.

What Foods Help Clean Dogs’ Teeth?

In addition to carrots, apples and celery can help clean your dog’s teeth. They have a high water content, which helps to wash away food particles and bacteria. Specially formulated dental diets can also contribute to dental health. Always consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Stink?

A bit of doggy breath is normal, but foul-smelling breath could indicate dental disease or other health issues. If your dog’s breath has a strong, unpleasant smell, it’s worth scheduling a checkup with your vet.

Is It Bad That I’ve Never Brushed My Dog’s Teeth?

While it’s ideal to start brushing your dog’s teeth when they’re young, it’s never too late to start. Just like with humans, neglecting oral hygiene can lead to dental disease and other health problems in dogs. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth, it’s time to start now!

What Happens If You Never Clean Your Dog’s Teeth?

Neglecting your dog’s dental hygiene can lead to plaque and tartar buildup, leading to gum disease, tooth loss, and potentially severe health issues like heart or kidney disease. Regular teeth cleaning, both at home and professionally, is crucial for your dog’s overall health.

Scheduling a Dental Checkup for Your Dog

Regular dental checkups allow your vet to spot any potential issues early before they turn into major problems. If your dog has never had a dental checkup or if it’s been a while since the last one, schedule an appointment today. It’s a critical part of ensuring your dog’s long-term health and happiness.

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