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How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Plus Dental Aids for Small Dogs

Video|Sets|Gels|Brushes|Rinse |Wipes |Toys |Dental Chews|Toothpaste |Treats|
Dental Vaccine|

Gum disease and tooth loss are a fact of life for small dogs as their bred-down mouth size crowds their teeth.

Dogs can't use their paws the way we do our hands. They rely on their teeth to pull things to or away from them and to eat. Imagine how much harder your dog's life would be without his teeth.

Dental problems are not just unsightly and smelly, gum infections can cause disease even serious ones such as liver or heart disease.

Please, please provide regular dental care for your dog. That means brushing his teeth at least two or three times a week (ideally brush every day) and giving him one or more dental aids every day.

You don't have to use all these dental aids here - pick the type of brush, toy/chew and rinse
that most appeals to you both and then stick to it!

At some point, all dogs will need professional dental cleaning which requires general anesthesia and may cost (depending on your location) $200-$600. Daily brushing may help prolong the time when your dog needs that expensive treatment.

Here's an excellent 3-minute video on dental health and how to brush your dog's teeth.

For more information on the products below, click on the product name or picture.

Dental Care Kit

Petrodex Dog Dental Care Kit, Poultry Toothpaste, 2 Toothbrushes

This is an excellent value for about $7 - a toothbrush with two ends (small and large bristles), a toothbrush for your finger and poultry flavored toothpaste, all designed for dogs.

I've experimented with all the toothbrushes out there and like the simple one the best. You only have to brush your dog's outer teeth and the longer handle of this toothbrush makes it easy, at least for me, to use it. Try both sizes of bristles and the finger brush and see which one works the best for you and your dog.

Although this finger brush fit my hand well (some are so big that you risk having them slide off and possibly choke your dog), I don't like them because it is hard to get residue toothpaste out of their groves. You need to scrub the head.

Most dogs do not like having someone's hand in their mouth so be gentle and reward your dog with treats when you're done. He'll soon learn to tolerate it. Nearly every dog will love the flavored toothpaste.

TIP: If your dog hates, absolutely hates, having your hand in his mouth, wait until he's a sleep to brush his teeth. He may wake up a bit or he may be groggy, but odds are he lets you finish your job and goes right back to sleep.

Most dogs love the poultry flavor, but it also comes with beef flavored toothpaste Petrodex Dog Dental Care Kit, Beef Toothpaste, 2 Toothbrushes.

If you just want a toothpaste made for dogs and your dog loves chicken try Nutri-Vet Enzymatic Chicken Flavored Canine Toothpaste, 2.5 Ounce. My dog loves: CET Toothpaste Malt 70gm

When you need a new toothbrush, you can buy another Petrodex or use a child's small toothbrush. Both Colgate and Oral B make good child's brushes that you can use on your dog.

Remember, it's fine to use human toothbrushes but not human toothpaste since dogs can't spit out the residue.



color image of Biotene Antispetic Oral Gel for dogs
Biotene Oral Gel


The one I prefer is Biotene Antiseptic Oral Gel which is the veterinarian version of the human brand. It's applied directly to gums.

Biotene makes excellent products for humans and a Biotene Drinking Water Additive for dogs and cats. I don't use the latter and if you use the gel, it will take care of any doggy breath so don't buy both products.

WARNING: do not use Biotene brand for humans. It contains a substance (xylitol) which is dangerous for dogs.

One caveat: still use a toothbrush. Apply the gel on the brush the way you would a toothpaste and brush. That motion is necessary to obtain the best tartar-reducing results and remove particles between the teeth.

Some people prefer Tropiclean Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel for Pets which is considered a 'natural' product and often sold in holistic; i.e., overpriced, pet stores. It's usually cheaper than Biotene and seems to prevent bad breath. I'm so-so on it for tartar control. This is a maintenance product, not something I would rely on to clean a dog's neglected teeth after years of tartar buildup.

pink bamboo toothbrush with double head of bristles  for dogs
Bamboo Dog Toothbrush

picture of triple bristle headed dog toothbrush
Triple Head Toothbrush


Although the toothbrush I use and recommend is the single head of bristles, some people prefer to double or triple. In theory they are great because you can brush the front and back of your dog's teeth in one effort.

I found those difficult to use because the toothbrush heads are larger which made it more difficult to get into my small dog's mouth and I couldn't wrap the bristles around her molars or back teeth.

If you want to try these other styles, two of the most popular are:

Bamboo QuadBrush Ultimate Dog Toothbrush with Holder for Small Dogs - Assorted Colors with a double head and cover. Warning: I could never get the cover to stay on the toothbrush.

Triple Head Pet Toothbrush which reduces the amount of time you have to spend holding your dog's mouth open.

CET Oral Hygiene Rinse

I became a convert to this product after a totally unscientific experiment with a friend who fosters shelter dogs. Most of the dogs come to her with tartar and plaque build-up and often have bad breath.

We experimented with CET AquaDent Drinking Water Additive which is added to their drinking water and Daily PetDental Spray which has a pump type spray. Both immediately helped alleviate doggy bad breath.

The most dramatic improvement in tartar reduction, however, came from CET Oral Hygiene Rinse. The product comes with a plastic straw-like applicator, and you simply spray your dog's upper teeth. It's easy to use and my dog didn't seem to mind the taste.

It works so well because it contains the 'magic' ingredient for canine dental care: chlorhexidine which is the gold standard for oral antiseptics. Look for this ingredient in your dog's dental products.

This product worked so well, I bought it for my own dog and highly recommend it.


8in1 D.D.S. Dental Wipes, 90-Count

If your dog can't tolerate having a plastic toothbrush of some type in his mouth, these are a good alternative. They should be used daily.

They remind me of baby wipes. Do be careful and hold on tight as your dog's saliva will make them slippery. I assume a dog could choke trying to swallow one so get a new wipe if you can't keep a grip on the current one.

You can fold one over your finger to use it or fold it in half so it covers your dog's front and back teeth. See what configuration works best for you.

My dog likes the flavor. If you can convince your dog to let you put your hand in his mouth, you should be able to use this product with no problem.

Nyalbone dinosaur dental chew toy for dogs
Dinosaur Chew Toy


These are the granddaddy's of chew toys. The small nubs on these toys help clean teeth and massage gums.

Nylabones are excellent for dogs that love to chew and you can buy 'stronger' versions for strong chewers. If your dog prefers soft or plush toys to harder surfaces, then you might skip down to the next product

You will need to replace the Nylabone toy with a new one when the knuckles on the toy have worn down.

One very durable toy my dog likes is Nylabone Durable Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy (Dinosaur Varies) which come in adorable shapes.

See other tartar-control toys at Dental Toys for Dogs

C.E.T. HEXtra Premium Oral Hygiene Chews with Chlorhexidine, Medium Dogs, 30 Chews

My vet recommended these and my dog loves them. All I have to do is pick up the package and she starts a little dance.

I shouldn't but do use them to keep my dog occupied when I'm trying to do something, such as talk on the phone, and she wants my attention. I give her a new chew and I might as well not exist.

These treats work so well because they contain chlorhexidine to help remove plaque and reduce tarter. The antiseptic system combines with the chews’ natural abrasive cleansing action to help keep teeth clean and breath fresh.

WARNING: As with any rawhide chew, there is a possibility that a dog could swallow a piece of it and choke. It's always best to have someone home whenever you let your dog have this or any other chew.

The only negative is that you may not like the smell and it's especially strong when you first give a new chew to your dog.

Also, don't buy the petite size regardless of your dog's weight. The medium works for small dogs, such as my Toy Poodle. Your dog's saliva will make the toy both pliable and reduced in size so you don't want to start out with something that he will be able to swallow as soon as he's had it in his mouth for a few minutes.

Dentastix for small dogsPedigree Dentastix


You've probably seen the amusing television commercial for doggy dentures and the Dentastix that make them unnecessary!

The manufacturer states there have been clinical tests that prove the effectiveness of this product. There is anecdotal evidence, but I was not able to find any reports in veterinary journals that describe the effectiveness of any dental treats.

Products like Greenies Dental Chews for Dogs will definitely help prevent bad breath, but I don't really know if they go beyond that.

Brushing your dog's teeth every day is still the best, safest and most proven way to maintain your dog's dental health.

Dental Vaccine = NO

This vaccine sounded promising when it was introduced but clinical trials found it be ineffective over a period of time. It is being taken off the market.

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