A dog’s teeth are very similar to human teeth in many ways. Not only do they have two regular sets just like us, but they’ll also need regular cleaning. But given that they can’t brush their own teeth, how are they meant to keep them clean?

That’s where you come in as you need to ensure that you prevent any dental issues. Here we’ll take a look at exactly how to clean dogs’ teeth, the various methods you can try, and why it’s so important. Read on to find out all about caring for dogs’ teeth!

How To Clean Dogs Teeth

How To Clean Dogs Teeth

There are several ways to clean a dog’s teeth but by far the best thing to do is brush them often. There are toothpastes and toothbrushes specifically made for dogs and you can quickly teach them to get comfortable with the process of brushing.

While brushing is the best thing you can do, there are other methods that can help to care for a dog’s teeth such as chew toys, food supplements, and dental wipes. These are best used alongside brushing for the best dental hygiene for your dog.

How To Brush a Dogs Teeth

How To Brush a Dogs Teeth

Brushing a dog’s teeth is a two-part process. You’ll first want to get them comfortable with you holding them by the chin, and they need to get comfortable with the brushing process. Here’s how to do it.

The Right Position for Brushing

By far the best position for your dog to be in while you’re brushing their teeth is to have one hand placed under their chin. This will allow you to have the control you need to comfortably reach all their teeth. Here’s how to get them used to it:

  1. Hold a treat in one hand and place the other just below their chin. As you move the treat closer to your dog, move it down so that they naturally lower their head into your palm. You can give them the treat and also give them some positive words to reinforce the behavior.
  2. It’s best to repeat this behavior a few times which will get them used to you holding their chin in that position. Eventually, you can start to fade out the treat in order for them to get comfortable with this becoming a learned behavior.
  3. If they start to place their chin on your hand, then you can reward them for doing this, but you should gradually fade this out too. Eventually, you want to get to a point where they’ll lay their chin on your hand without expecting a treat.
  4. If they are still struggling with this, then you can still give them treats. Just try to wean them off them by waiting more and more time between them placing their chin on your hand and rewarding them.

Brushing Their Teeth

There are a few ways to get your dog comfortable with brushing their teeth. How quickly it takes them to get comfortable with it will depend on a few factors such as their age and temperament. Here is a great method to get them used to teeth brushing:

  1. Getting Them Comfortable– Once your dog will gladly put their chin on their hand, then you want to get them comfortable with you touching their mouth with your other hand. If you’re nervous about this, then don’t worry about taking it slowly.
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You can start by touching their lips while also feeling their upper and lower jaws. You can build up the amount of time you do this before moving on to the next stage.

  1. Touching Their Mouth– Once both you and the dog are comfortable, you can progress to touching the inside of their mouth. Here you can move your finger over the gums which will give you a good idea of how you need to brush their teeth.

At this stage, it’s a good idea to reward them with a treat so that they link it with a positive experience. How long this stage takes can vary from one dog to the next so don’t feel don’t bad if it takes a long time for your dog to get used to you touching their gums.

It’s best to try this during multiple short sessions rather than forcing it during one session. At this point, you may also want to introduce some toothpaste to your fingertip to familiarize them with the taste, which dogs usually like.

  1. Accessing Their Upper Teeth– To clean a dog’s teeth on their upper jaw, you’ll most likely need to place your hand on its snout and lift up their lips. By now your dog should be comfortable with your hand being around their mouth but give them a few treats if they allow you to touch their snout.

At this stage, you should get comfortable lifting up their lips to access their teeth. It’s important to note that your hand never needs to be in a dog’s mouth to brush their teeth so don’t worry about getting their mouth open.

  1. Brushing Their Teeth– Finally you can progress to brushing their teeth. There are two common ways to do this you can either use a thimble on your finger, but most dog owners prefer to use a simple brush.

It’s best to start without toothpaste just to make your life easier. Brush the teeth in a circular motion just as you’d do with your own teeth. You can start with just a few teeth before building up to brushing all their teeth.

  1. The Final Step– Dog toothpaste is very different from the one we use as ours can be toxic to them. Their toothpaste has been formulated to taste nice and can also be swallowed without any issues.

There shouldn’t to too many dramas at this stage and your dog should let you freely brush their teeth for as long as you need to. If they’ve done a good job, then feel free to give them a tasty treat!

Do You Have to Brush a Dog’s Teeth?

Do You Have to Brush a Dog's Teeth?

Dogs are animals that used to be wild, so surely their teeth can be cleaned naturally? This is a fair assumption that many people make. The reality is that dogs can have a wide range of dental issues that can be prevented by brushing.

Anyone that has a lot of experience with owning dogs will tell you that dental problems are quite common. While there are a few methods you can use to keep their teeth clean, brushing them is going to be by far the most effective.

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How often should you brush their teeth? Many say that it should be done daily, which is ideal. However, for many with busy lives, they may feel as though that’s too much to ask but they are usually okay with less frequent brushing.

At the very minimum, you should be brushing their teeth at least once or twice per week. Dogs don’t eat the same levels of sugars and acids that we do and therefore brushing isn’t quite as important for them but it’s still necessary for good oral health.

Alternatives To Brushing Teeth

Alternatives To Brushing Teeth

There are also a number of alternatives to brushing your dog’s teeth. While they’ll never be as good as brushing, they can be useful to keep your dog’s teeth clean between brushes or when you don’t have a brush available.

1. Dental Wipes

Dental wipes are the easiest and quickest alternative to brushing. These wipes can be placed over your finger and allow you to wipe off any plaque in their mouth.

The best thing about these wipes is that they are simple to use and don’t cause any mess. However, they are only one-use which means that are much more expensive overall than brushing. They also aren’t as effective as brushing off stubborn plaque and tartar.

2. Supplements

Another great idea is to buy supplements that you can put in with your dog’s food. The point of these supplements is that they will work to soften the plaque and make it easier to break down.

These are easy to use and mean your hand doesn’t need to go anywhere near their mouth. It’s great for use in combination with brushing but won’t completely clean their teeth on their own. Your dogs may also dislike the taste.

3. Dental Chews

Dental chews are a great natural way to clean their teeth without the problems that come with using bones. These dog chews take a while for your dogs to eat and take a lot of chewing, which helps to clean their teeth in the process.

An example is beef tendon chews but there are many to choose from. These are tasty treats for dogs while also being easy for us humans to give them. The only downside is that some dogs will either not be interested in chews or eat through them too quickly.

4. Bones

You should always be careful when giving bones to a dog but if they give them, they’ll be okay. This is a very natural way of cleaning their teeth as the plaque and tartar will be scraped off as they chew.

People love this as a way to keep their dogs happy and healthy. The only issues are that suitable bones can be difficult to source, and you have to potential issue of them becoming choking hazards.


5. Sprays and Gels

This is similar to the wipes above but just a different way to go about it. Here you apply the spray or gel to their teeth and then rub it on. While it works, you don’t have that brushing motion, so it won’t remove all the plaque and tartar.

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There are many types available and they can also help control bad breath. But as this requires you to put your hands on your dog’s mouth, you’re probably better just brushing them.

6. Healthy Food

You can also give them fruit and vegetables which not only work as a healthy snack but can do a good job of cleaning their teeth. While they don’t clean their teeth on their own, they can be a good idea when used in combination with other methods.

Perhaps the best example is carrots. These are a natural and inexpensive way to clean their teeth, which also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Before giving anything to your dog, double-check that it’s safe for them to eat.

7. Dental Toys and Chews

Regular chew toys are a great idea to keep their teeth working but you can also buy dental toys that have been specifically made to clean their teeth. These have grooves and ridges which are perfect for targeting that plaque.

Of course, this will only have limited success when cleaning all of their teeth but can still be a good idea. Not only that, but your dogs will also love playing with them.

8. Water Additives

Even if they don’t know it, humans are very familiar with additives as fluoride is added to our water supply. While fluoride is toxic to dogs in high quantities, there are other additives you can give them.

These additives contain enzymes that will work to break down plaque. They are easy to use and you don’t need to worry about any mess. However, they can be quite expensive if used every day.

9. Dental Treats

Want to reward your dog? Then why not do it with some dental treats? These are regular dog treats but they’ve been shaped in such a way that they’ll scrape against their teeth.

This is a win-win as not only will it clean their teeth but your dog will love you for giving them a treat. But as with everything on this list, it’s still not going to be as effective as brushing.


How to clean dogs’ teeth? The answer is to simply brush them just as you would with human teeth. While that’s true, you will need to spend time getting them used to the process by using our guide above.

Along with brushing, there are several other great ways to keep their teeth in great shape. If you look after their teeth, then you’ll have a much happier dog and fewer trips to the vet.

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