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Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

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Schnauzer with its mouth open.

One way to help keep your dog happy and healthy is to keep their teeth clean. There are a number of home use products on the market so that you can clean them yourself. This is a guide about cleaning your dog's teeth.


Solutions: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

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Tip: Brush Your Dog's Teeth For A Healthier Dog

Small white dog on easy chairIt is best to start with a puppy, if possible, but any age will do. Purchase toothpaste and a toothbrush made especially for dogs. Put a dab of toothpaste on toothbrush, and attempt to softly brush (circular motion) along the sides of their mouth along the gum line, pulling the cheek out. If they resist, let them lick the toothpaste and even lightly chew on the brush (if a puppy), and then try along the side again. Keep trying before bedtime each night, and they will get used to it.

When you can actually brush the teeth, use more toothpaste for each side. You should be able to even hold the mouth open and brush the insides of their upper teeth. It makes such a difference in their health and well-being, and you avoid the expense of teeth cleaning later on. It is important to be gentle at all times and don't lose patience. I always let them lick the toothbrush when we are done which feels like a treat to them.

Source: After needing to have our German Shepherd's teeth cleaned twice by the vet, we started with our first Westie. We have now had 4 Westies that we've brushed their teeth since they were puppies. We have had great success with good health and no need for teeth cleaning. They have made it to ages 14, 16, 14, and 14.

By Connie E. from Naples, FL

Article: How To Brush Your Dog or Cat's Teeth

Brushing Pet's TeethYou don't need to be a professional to help your pet keep their teeth in good shape! With a little patience, brushing your dog or cat's teeth can be a breeze!

If you are starting with a puppy or kitten, your job will be much easier. An adult dog or cat will be much more reluctant to let you stick your fingers in their mouths. But the first thing you need to do is get your pet used to the idea of fingers near their mouth and toothpaste in their mouth.

  1. Pick a time when you are both relaxed. Maybe after a meal, when the pet will be a little less energetic.

  2. Cuddle the animal on your lap and gently stroke their cheeks with your finger.

  3. After a few sessions of cheek-stroking, introduce the pet-safe toothpaste. Put a dab on your finger and let them sniff and/or taste it. Pick a flavor that you think will be pleasing to your pet.

You can use a brush, your bare finger, or any number of tooth-cleaning apparatuses. But please don't jam it right into your pet's mouth. Start with just the easily accessible teeth, and gradually increase the cleaning area. If you or your pet start to get agitated, it's time to stop for the day.

You want tooth brushing to be a positive experience, something your pet looks forward to as bonding time! Praise them for good behavior as you go, and give them a special treat afterwards. The more pleasant it is for your pet, the easier it will be for you!

Keep in mind that a large portion of everyday cleaning is done by chewing; gnawing on a rawhide, worrying a stuffed toy or rope, or crunching on biscuits and kibbles. All of these chewing activities help keep your dog or cat's teeth clean and healthy, but you can ensure even better oral health by brushing your pet's teeth twice a week.

By Catherine Forman

Tip: Doggie Toothpaste

I have a "recipe" for doggie toothpaste that I'd like to share with you guys! Mix together baking soda and water to make a paste. Gently scrub the teeth with a soft brush or with gauze wrapped around your finger.

Remember that human toothpaste can upset your dog's stomach.

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Here are questions related to Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth.

Question: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

How can I get plaque off of my dog's teeth without going to a vet?

By Janet from Portsmouth, OH


Most Recent Answer


I know you don't want to have the vet remove the plaque but for the dogs overall health please do so and maintain thereafter using Lorelie's suggestions.

Question: Cleaning an Older Dog's Teeth at Home

We have never brushed our pooch's teeth before, nor have we had the vet do a tarter removal or cleaning on her. She is now 12 1/2 years old and in good health, but I noticed that some of her teeth have the orange-yellow build up starting on them. Also, bad breath is now showing up. She doesn't chew on her hard bones as much as she use too. We don't have the $350 for a teeth cleaning. Any suggestions?



Most Recent Answer

By ilovesophie [20]12/11/2014

Bad breath can indicate an infected tooth; don't let your dog suffer from the pain; have the teeth checked by a vet.

Question: Removing Plaque from a Dog's Teeth

What can I do? Bandit will not let me brush his teeth either with the tooth brush or the finger brush. He bites hard on the brush locking it out of his mouth and if I don't move my finger I'm afraid it will suffer the same. Any suggestions out there?

He is just over 3 and his teeth are in good shape; he doesn't like Greenies or rawhide. I have to buy him pigs ears and Bully Sticks (bull's penises) which are not cheap 3.00 a stick only 4" long and curly; he loves them. He won't eat Milk Bones either. I'm at my wits end. Help please, I cant afford to get his teeth cleaned. Who can?

By Debbie T.

Question: Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

I would love to hear from any of you who brush your dog's teeth and what kind of doggie toothpaste you use and how you got started and how the dog likes it, etc.

By Robyn from TN

Most Recent Answer

By Virginia T.06/27/2014

I have 2 dogs & I bush their teeth with the toothpaste from pet store as human toothpaste has something in it that is not good for them. I use the rubber finger and also a toothbrush. I have to get them to open wide enough to get behind the teeth so its a little work but if I had started when puppies they would have been fine with it. I also put their toothpaste on a chew bone nyla kind I keep outside on porch I dont know how much good it does but I do it sometimes.

Question: Using Pantyhose to Clean Dogs Teeth

Has anyone ever heard of using a section of pantyhose wrapped around your finger to gently clean your dogs teeth?

By VeroYorkie

Most Recent Answer

By ComputerScott [1]09/28/2011

Never heard of that. Does it work?

Question: Brushing My Dog's Teeth

Our 5 year old Rat Terrier needs to have her teeth cleaned. The Vet wants $250.00 for this. Has anyone cleaned their dog's teeth with the toothbrush and paste that the pet stores sell? I would be willing to try it. If so, how do you do it and how is the dog's mouth rinsed of the paste?

Many thanks,

Most Recent Answer

By valery [13]10/16/2006

You DON'T use our toothpaste. That is harmful to dogs. Get dog toothpaste at pet store. I let my dog chew on the toothbrush and she thinks this is fun. Then I just put her between my legs and brush as best as I can. They get used to it. But NOT our toothpaste please.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

We are the happy owners of a lovely female Fox Terrier Dog which we got from a dear friend who passed away suddenly. Penny is 3 yrs. old. I was checking her teeth and noticed that they could use a cleaning. Has anyone ever done this themselves, or do you have to have a Vet do it by putting the dog to sleep? I heard it is quite costly at the Vet do it. We give her hard dog biscuits to chew on for tartar removal, but it is not doing the job. Thanks for any help readers may be able to give me.

Rosalie from San Diego

RE: Cleaning Your Dogs Teeth

Vets offer this service, with general anesthesia for about $100. They also can sell you a doggie toothpaste and "brush" you can use to maintain clean teeth and gums. (08/21/2004)

By Linda

RE: Cleaning Your Dogs Teeth

If she has a bad case of tartar buildup, looks kinda like orangie-yellowish stuff on the surface of her teeth, I once had a vet show me to take a nickle (the coin) and use the edge of the coin and press down from the top edge of the buildup and literally chip the buildup off the tooth. Yes, if you are not comfortable doing this yourself you can get the vet to do it too. Good luck! (08/21/2004)

By dmccall

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

I always keep a tooth brush at the place where I bathe my dog and brush his teeth when I finish bathing him. Your dog may resist you at first, but after awhile he will get use to it. I haven't used tooth paste on the brush (just the plain brush with water), but they have flavored tooth paste that you could by if you feel your dog would like the taste. Hope this works for you. Barbara (08/22/2004)

By memex11

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

I had the same problem with my rat terrier. She had her teeth cleaned by the vet twice in 1 year. The dental chews and other dental toys didn't help. I started giving her a bone a day from our dinner scraps. Steak, pork chop, rib, lamb chop, anything but chicken and fish. Her vet was amazed at the improvement and insisted on keeping it up. She hasn't needed a cleaning since the bone treats started. If I miss a week, no biggie, the next couple of bones will do the job. Also, it has helped regulate her bathroom habits. (08/22/2004)

By sufigirl

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Our eight year old Rottweiler/Sheppard's teeth had a lot of tartar build-up. I started to give her raw beef bones to chew. I read that raw bones are safer than cooked because cooked ones will splinter. She has been chewing them all summer. I happened to check her teeth and they are now clean. I didn't change anything else in her diet and no one has cleaned her teeth. So I could only guess that it was the raw beef bones. When it gets hot outside and she is done chewing her bone, I put the bone in a dog dish and cover the bone in water. This way no insects will get to it. When she wants to chew it again, she dunks for it. I hope this helps. (08/23/2004)

By Mike

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Please do not give your dog a bone. My husband gave our small dog a pork chop bone and it splinters. It cost us 150.00 for my dog to stay at the vet's office overnight to help her pass the bone. Use a soft child's toothbrush with baking soda. It may take some time but they will get use to you brushing their teeth. (09/21/2004)

By Vicki J

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

I've heard it's bad to use baking soda so avoid that. (12/14/2004)

By Mariel

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

I own two dogs, a mini wiener dog and a pug, who love their baths and getting their teeth brushed. They each have their own towel and toothbrushes. I do put just a little bit of toothpaste on it. I take my time and they are okay. I give breath treats between baths. My dogs are like my children, can't have dirty teeth! (01/12/2008)

By tammy

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Dogs are anesthetized for a subgingival cleaning and tartar removal. What you see on the outside could be worse below the gums which is why a dental cleaning from the vet may be imperative, especially if your dog develops bad breath, red gums, etc. It may lead to all sorts of diseases. If you brush your dog's teeth every day, this may reduce the buildup and your future vet bills. I've got some "peanut flavored" doggy toothpaste that my dogs absolutely love! (03/06/2008)

By Lex

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

I went to the vet yesterday and he suggested using Bi-carb Soda, mix it into a paste and apply.
From Aus (08/19/2008)

By From Australia

RE: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Absolutely take your dog to the vet for teeth cleaning and scaling. I have a beautiful toy fox terrier who at 6 years of age suddenly had a bump on her cheek. Within a few hours, it burst open and I nearly had a heart attack looking for a vet who would see her immediately in a regular office and not an E.R. $500.00 later, he put her under anesthesia and not only cleaned all teeth and professionally scaled them, but extracted what turned out to be an abscessed tooth! Dogs can't tell you they are hurting, it's not worth it. You can clean their teeth yourself as directed, but take your dog at least around 5 years of age to the Vet for really good cleaning and scaling which you cannot do as well as they can. It's not that expensive for them to just clean teeth and you won't have a surprise like I did. Good luck! (09/15/2008)

By YvetteC

Archive: Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

How can I remove tartar from my dog's teeth? I would like a home remedy.