How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Updated on December 1, 2019
angela_michelle profile image

Angela is a cat and dog lover who has made special efforts to learn as much as she can about the animals she cares for.

Keep Smile White
Keep Smile White | Source

Dental Health for Dogs

Keeping your dog's teeth healthy is an essential duty, along with clipping their nails, protecting them from harmful plants, and playing games with them. Tartar buildup can lead to several health issues, even problems with the heart. Some pet owners choose to take their dog to a vet to have his/her teeth cleaned professionally, which usually costs at least $150 without pet insurance, which is why many people choose to brush their dog's teeth at home. It is ideal to start cleaning them while they are puppies, so they can gradually get used to it. When you decide to start brushing, make sure you always use dog toothpaste, not human toothpaste. They cannot spit, and human toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed. If you use human toothpaste, this can cause an upset stomach, and the contents of their lunch may end up on your floor.

Average Dog Dental Care Cost

Dental Procedure
Approximate Cost
Vet Cleaning with Anesthetic Workup
$250-350 a visit
Vet Cleaning without Anesthetic Workup
$100-250 a visit
Home Daily Cleaning
$30-60 a year
Home Weekly Cleaning
$15-30 a year
Tooth Extraction due to Bad Teeth Care
$600-1,000 a visit

Dog With Plaque on His Teeth

This dog has nice white teeth,except some plaque in the back. For this reason, it is important to focus on the back teeth of your dog.
This dog has nice white teeth,except some plaque in the back. For this reason, it is important to focus on the back teeth of your dog. | Source

How Do You Brush a Dog's Teeth

  • Ways to Prepare Your Dog: Before you begin brushing your dog's teeth, it is a good idea to get him used to you touching his lips. For a few weeks before you start brushing his teeth, raise his lower and upper lips, and massage the area for thirty seconds at a time. Watch his reactions. Once he seems relaxed while you are doing this, then he is ready to have his teeth brushed. Another good idea is to put a little toothpaste in his mouth to get him used to the flavor. If your dog is resistant to the taste, but not the brushing, it is better to brush without anything rather than avoiding it altogether.
  • Getting Prepared: Before you bring your dog in to have his teeth brushed, you want to set up the area and have everything within hand's reach, including putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, so the dog does not have to wait for you to do this. The idea is that you want to minimize the dog's discomfort and finish as quickly as possible. It is also essential to make sure your dog is ready. If he wants to play, he will not be very tolerant of getting his teeth brushed. You will want to make sure that he is relaxed and calm, which will eliminate the battles that could ensue if you choose a time when your dog is hyper and playful.
  • Beginning Brushing Their Teeth: Once prepared, you will want to have your dog in a position where you can be face to face, which may mean you need to sit on the floor or place him in your lap. If possible, it is often a good idea to have a second person there to comfort him and talk to your dog to help him feel at ease, as well as to gently hold him still. The second person talking to your dog will help distract them, especially during times when you may need to add toothpaste.
  • Brushing Their Teeth: It's ideal to use a toothbrush, but not all dogs will be willing to use one. In cases where your dog is resistant to a toothbrush, you can use a wet washcloth or gauze on your finger. Another alternative to a brush is a rubber surface cap that goes on your finger, which acts like a toothbrush. You can find these at most pet stores. To begin brushing their teeth, lift their upper lip and brush in a circular pattern making sure to get the gum line. Continue around the mouth doing top teeth first. Then begin doing the bottom. The bottom will be trickier since your dog will most likely keep his teeth shut, and the bottom teeth will be a little hidden. Focus on the back teeth; this is where plaque gets built up the most and can do the most damage.

It's important that you give your dog things to chew. This will help take plaque off their teeth.
It's important that you give your dog things to chew. This will help take plaque off their teeth. | Source

How Often to Clean a Dog's Teeth

There is an extensive debate on how often you should clean your dog's teeth. You will hear some say every day; others will report once a week. I would aim for whenever you bathe your dog. Usually, I will clip my dog's nails, wash, and all other grooming things on the same day. We also give him a lot of teeth-healthy toys like doggy designed rope, milk-bones; plus, we always feed him dry dog food, which helps strengthen his teeth.

Then once a year, when you talk to your vet, ask him/her if he/she feels like the dog's teeth need professional cleaning. Some vets encourage you to have them cleaned professionally once a year, regardless of teeth health. Others are less conservative and will truly assess your dog's teeth per visit. If you are brushing regularly, they may let you know they do not feel a vet dental visit is important. Either way, the vet should at least assess the dental health of your dog.

Begin taking care of your dog's teeth while it is a puppy, this way it will be used to it early on.
Begin taking care of your dog's teeth while it is a puppy, this way it will be used to it early on. | Source

Side Effects for Dogs With Bad Teeth

Inadequate dental care causes problems for up to 80 percent of dogs over the age of three. Dental issues not only affect the teeth, but also the liver, heart, intestinal tract, kidneys, and even joints! Bacteria gathered in the mouth due to bad teeth, will eventually be swallowed, and begin to spread throughout the rest of the body. These bacteria can cause problems throughout your pet's body.

Signs Your Dog's Teeth May Need to be Seen by the Vet

  • Dog's breath should never be offensive. Their breathing may smell like the food they last ate, which is not the most pleasant smell, but your dog's breath should never be intolerable.
  • The gums should be pink and close to the teeth. If their gums are red, swollen, or receding from the gum-line, then you should have a vet look at your dog's teeth.
  • When you brush his teeth, his gums should not bleed. Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis.
  • Whining while chewing on toys is a significant indicator, something is wrong. You may find your puppy does this when their baby teeth are falling out, but they should not do that once all their adult teeth are in. You may also see a sudden resistance in usually chewing beloved chew toys.

Sometimes you can not get around to brushing your dog's teeth as often as you should; therefore, make sure you have a lot of hard toys they can chew on to help strengthen their teeth. Milk bones are great for cleaning their teeth in between but do not solely rely on them, as plaque will still build up.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      2 years ago from United States

      Personally, I think natural is best. No brand in particular.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thank you for the Information. Do you have a recommended Toothpaste and brush?

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      That's great your dog let's you do it!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is very informative and encouraging. My dog (I got him from the pound when he was an adult) doesn't like his teeth brushed, although he will let me do it. I guess I need to insist more often. Voted up.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      If he has really bad smelling breath, it may be gingivitus, you may consider talking them about bringing it to the vet.

    • yellowstar2000 profile image

      Candice Collins 

      7 years ago from WestCoast Florida

      thanks so much for this great and informative hub! voted up!! I'm sharing it with my parents for Teddy their adorable little Shitzu (lol..spelling?)... heh heh, he's got some serious breath, and this may do the trick!! :)

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      Skeezix just wants to chew and play with the toothbrush, so I use my finger.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      This is a job that I need to do on Beau. I have trouble doing it. Either they want to suck on the toothbrush or don't want to hold still. Pinned and shared.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      I actually think that is the most important step. If you get your dog prepared, the rest will come quite easy.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      This was very informative and has important details for the dog owner on brushing teeth. Your prep advice is one that I would not have thought of and it is something that will help the dog get used to the process. WEll DONE! Voted up, up.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      You may benefit from a rubber cap you can find at pet stores, intended for brushing dog's teth. Also just make sure you massage his cheeks to get used to you touching him in this area.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      Great hub. Good information. Voted up. Wish my dog would let me brush his teeth.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      I thought that puppy was irresistible as well. I am so glad that you found the information thorough.

    • KarenCreftor profile image

      Karen Creftor 

      8 years ago from Kent, UK

      Great hub! Very informative and thorough thank you Angela :D

      LOVE the top picture as well, made me giggle hehe

      ~Kaz x


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)