Caitlin UltimoHealth / Wellness

Dental Care Basics for Dogs

He may not show off his pearly whites too often, but your dog has a beautiful set of teeth that can stay that way with the right care. While proper dog dental care does require some professional help, there are some steps you should take, at home, as well.

Brush, Brush, Brush
You aren’t the only one in the house who needs a daily brushing. The American Veterinary Dental College recommends brushing your dog’s teeth every day to remove plaque and prevent it from becoming tartar, which can lead to periodontal disease. Specialty brushes designed for brushing dog’s teeth make it easier. And when it comes to toothpaste, skip the minty fresh human brands. Opt for a toothpaste that’s safe for dogs—and comes in appetizing beef, poultry or seafood flavors.

If brushing everyday seems too tough, try to fit it in at least three or four times per week. On the other days, consider rubbing dental wipes over your pup’s teeth to help remove some plaque.

If your dog is new to brushing, take it slowly. Let your dog inspect his new toothbrush and toothpaste. Give him a lick of the toothpaste off of your finger to get him interested. Lift up his lips and brush even just a couple of teeth if you can, rubbing in a circular motion near the gum line. And try to clean more teeth at each brushing. After he (and you) gets used to having the front of his teeth brushed, you can try opening his jaw to get the teeth in the back. Reward him with a treat or playtime afterward.

Try these tools made for dog dental care:
Vetoquinol Enzadent Dual-Ended Toothbrush for Dogs & Cats
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Finger Brush
D.D.S. Dental Wipes for Dogs
Sentry Petrodex Veterinary Strength Enzymatic Poultry Flavor Dog Toothpaste

Ready to Rinse
A daily rinse that contains chlorhexidine can help prevent plaque from binding to your dog’s teeth—and it may even give him fresher breath. Just squirt a small amount in each cheek and let it get to work.

Try this rinse to help keep your pup’s teeth and mouth clean:
Vetoquinol Dentahex Oral Hygiene Rinse for Dogs & Cats

Chew It Up
While nothing replaces a good brushing, there are products you can buy that can help to keep your dog’s teeth in tip-top shape. When used every day, soft rawhide treats help keep plaque and tartar at bay (just make sure to choose the correct serving size for your dog’s breed and size). Dental treats are another doggie dentist-approved way to help keep your pup’s mouth clean.

Resist the urge to feed your furry friend a hard bone from your steak dinner. Hard dog treats, like cow and other animal bones, as well as hooves, nylon bones and unbendable rawhide can actually break your dog’s teeth. Some animal bones may also shatter, posing a choking risk for your pet.

When it comes to dog chew toys, choose strong, rubbery versions with raised nubs that help clean teeth as your pup chews.

Try these chew toys to help keep his teeth clean:
Busy Buddy Natural Rawhide Rings Dog Treats
Castor & Pollux Good Buddy USA Rawhide Dog Bone Treat
Greenies Regular Dental Dog Treats
Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew Dino Dog Toy

A Trip to the Dog Dentist
In addition to his visits to the vet, consider bringing your pet to a veterinary dentist once a year (some dogs may need more). Your vet will review your dog’s mouth, take x-rays, give his teeth a good cleaning and discuss any issues that require further treatment. Your veterinary dentist can also give you tips on the type of food and treats that will work best for your dog’s dental care.