Someone brushing a dog's teeth with text "Canine Dental"

Many pet owners may consider stinky dog breath just a normal reality of owning a dog, but that’s not the case. In fact, bad dog breath might be a sign that your dog is suffering from a more serious health issue such as dental disease, diabetes, or kidney and liver disease. Brushing your dog’s teeth is as important for his hygiene as brushing is to ours.

Tartar and plaque can build up in our pets’ mouths the same way it can in our own, causing dental problems such as inflamed gums, bad breath, and tooth decay. Over time, poor oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease. This not only inflames the dog’s gums, but it can lead to cavities, tissue breakdown, infection, tooth loss, and very, very bad breath.

How do you brush your dog’s teeth?

The first step is finding the perfect “canine” toothbrush. Dog toothbrushes are similar to human toothbrushes, but are smaller and have much softer bristles. An infant toothbrush works in a pinch.  Another option, a finger toothbrush.

Never use human toothpaste on your pets. Many human toothpastes contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. To help keep your dog safe and improve oral health, consider a pet-friendly toothpaste (in fun flavors such as poultry or beef).

Now for the fun part, getting down to business. Try to choose a time when your dog has had a decent amount of exercise, so he is more inclined to play along. Don’t over do it for the first few times. Start slowly and quit if the dog becomes agitated. Increase the brushing time each day until the dog becomes used to the idea. After the brushing, reward the dog with a treat. Before you know it, he will be looking forward to the event every day.

Dog dental treats and dog chews are good ways to help improve dental health. These treats are made specifically to help remove plaque and contain ingredients to freshen breath. And dogs appreciate it more than the toothbrush.

Professional cleanings are perhaps the best way to ensure your dog’s oral health. Your veterinarian knows what’s best for your dog’s teeth and will be able to address any issues he or she finds.


Xylitol Is Toxic To Dogs | Pet Poison Helpline. Pet Poison Helpline. (2020). Retrieved 16 October 2020, from

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