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How to Clean Your Dogs Teeth: Cleaning Dogs Teeth at Home

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that pay me a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Full disclaimer here.

Many dog owners prefer to do their own dog grooming if they can, eliminating the need to employ the services of a dog groomer. This of course requires prior knowledge if you want a good and satisfactory result.

From this article, you’ll learn what you need to know in order to manage an essential part of grooming that is often over-looked. I’ll be focusing on this one aspect – cleaning dogs teeth.

4 Methods Used for Cleaning Dogs Teeth

Dog teeth cleaning can be achieved in a variety of ways. Probably the best option is to aim to include all of the following methods at some point.

1 Brushing Dogs Teeth
This is the most popular method of cleaning a dog’s teeth and I’ll expand on the actual techniques you can use later in this article.

But, just like when we clean our own teeth, it involves applying some dog toothpaste on a brush (affiliate link) and then proceeding to brush the teeth well, not too difficult at all.

2 Selecting Food Suitable for Cleaning Dogs Teeth
Hard kibbles as opposed to soft canned dog food can reduce plaque formation in your dog’s teeth.

You can give your dog foods such as edible dog treats or chews and select food varieties that specifically target dental care for dogs.

You can also try feeding your dog dry foods such as dog biscuits after every wet meal. Wet foods are more likely to stick to the teeth but dry food can serve to remove any gooey residue. This is not unlike us eating an apple after a meal to clean our teeth.

Brushing Dogs Teeth – How Often?

There are several factors that determine how often one should brush dogs teeth. Some of these factors are the type of dog food purchased, how many cleaning methods you are currently using, the age of your pet (puppies need more frequent cleaning), whether or not your pet currently has healthy teeth etc. You can brush a dog’s teeth every three days if it doesn’t have any dental problems. But try as much as possible to brush daily.

Brushing Dogs Teeth – What Tools are Needed?

Before you begin, make sure your dog is relaxed. Then get the required tools: toothbrush and toothpaste.

Dog Toothbrush
Get a toothbrush made specifically for dogs. You can use finger brushes for dogs below 30 pounds and regular brushes (with longer handles) for bigger dogs.

Dog Toothpaste
Use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. They come in different flavors such as peanut butter, beef, etc. Whilst these are dog-friendly toothpaste options, you might find that some dogs may prefer certain flavors more than others. Just keep on experimenting until you find the flavor your pet likes.

Brushing Dogs Teeth – 7 Steps

Play with your dog, smile, pat his head, and make him happy and everything will proceed smoothly. Learning how to brush a dog’s teeth can be more straightforward if you follow these steps.

  1. Begin slowly. The anxiety level of your dog matters a lot. If it’s upset, you can try again later when it’s relaxed. Sit or kneel beside or in front of your dog.
  2. Test if your dog is willing to allow you to touch his mouth. Rub your finger lightly along his teeth and upper gums.
  3. Allow your dog to get used to the taste of the toothpaste by applying some on your finger and letting him lick from the tip of your finger. As mentioned before, you can try different flavors until you find the one he likes to lick.
  4. When your dog is comfortable with you touching his mouth, start brushing his teeth using the toothbrush and toothpaste. Start with the upper lip, lifting it up gently. Let the bristles touch the edge of the gum for efficient cleaning.
  5. Brushing in small circles is the best way to brush your dog’s teeth. Reach both the bottom and top while brushing. It is possible that you may see some bleeding while brushing. You shouldn’t worry about this if it’s just a little, but when it increases or doesn’t stop after some time, then you have probably brushed his teeth too hard. If this does happen, you should seek advice from a vet.
  6. Start from the outer parts of the back teeth. Try to brush the insides too if you can but if your dog is proving difficult, then don’t worry too much, so long as you can reach the outer surfaces.
  7. After you have finished the teeth cleaning routine, give your dog extra attention and/or his  favorite food. Make sure the whole process is a positive experience for him.
How To Brush Your Dogs Teeth

As you can see, brushing dogs’ teeth can be quite simple and need not take a lengthy amount of time. About 80% of dogs will allow you to brush their teeth. If yours is proving difficult, give it some time.

Special Tips for Puppies

  1. Puppies can wriggle and make teeth cleaning difficult for you. To prevent them from squirming, you can hold their collars and lay them on their stomach or have somebody gently hold them.
  2. You can start puppies with a little toothpaste (for dogs) on the tip of your finger. Simply slide your finger over his little teeth, top and bottom. You can, as he gets a little older, graduate to a child-size toothbrush and start to follow the routine outlined above.
  3. Prevent your puppy from biting your fingers by making a loud shriek whenever he attempts to do so, just to let him know that it displeases you.
  4. You can buy special puppy dental chews.

Dog Dental Care

Good dog dental health is not only about brushing. Sometimes your dog can develop dental problems which you cannot handle by yourself. In the event of dental problems, you should take your dog to a vet for treatment. Regardless of whether or not you experience any dental problems, make a conscious effort to take your dog to a vet for professional cleaning periodically. This may involve your dog being anesthetized for thorough cleaning.


Periodic visits to a vet, combined with regular at-home cleaning, will help to give your dog a much better chance at having good dental health.

~ Guest ~

For other tips on doing your own grooming tasks at home, refer to our topic on How to Groom a Dog.

If you find grooming your own dog interesting, you might be attracted by the idea of becoming a professional groomer yourself. In that case you would find our section on Online Dog Grooming Courses especially useful.

I look forward to hearing about your own dog grooming experiences. Please feel free to leave a comment.


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