How Can I Keep My Dog’s Teeth Clean?

dogs teeth cover

Every dog has his own personality, my two chocolate labs included. They are litter mates that I raised together.  However, Jake sits quietly and lets me brush his teeth, while Luke needs more convincing (yes, I mean shameless bribery). So, I thought I would offer a few tips on how you can keep your dog’s teeth clean.

dog's teeth lab

When it comes to our dogs’ health, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of oral hygiene. How do you even tell if your dog’s teeth need cleaning?  The first sign of canine dental disease is really bad breath. Given that dogs don’t have the freshest breath to begin with that can be hard to detect.  Basically, your dog’s breath shouldn’t be bad enough to make you gag. Between professional cleanings, there are several things you can do to keep your dog’s teeth clean and even reduce tartar.

When do You Start Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?

The earlier you start, the better your dog will behave. Brushing your puppy’s teeth is the best way to begin a healthy habit to last a lifetime. Start between eight and sixteen weeks so that it will be easier when she gets older. If you buy toothpaste made for dogs, the yummy flavor makes the task much easier. Pet toothpaste comes in poultry, malt and other flavors dogs love.

dog's teeth puppy

If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth before, start with a dab of toothpaste to let the puppy taste it. Eventually, you can put some on a dog toothbrush and gently clean his teeth. It’s okay if he swallows some. Just avoid using human toothpaste, which contains ingredients that can make your dog sick.

Dog Tooth Wipes

If you have an older dog or cannot get your dog to sit still, there are other alternatives. When Luke is sick or just not in the mood, I throw in the towel and resort to dog-tooth wipes. These wipes are safe to rub against your dog’s teeth and keep down plaque build up. I also use these on trips when we take the dogs. They don’t get into all the crevices but every little bit helps.

Gauze Cheat

If you run out of dog-tooth wipes, try this cheat. Take a clean piece of gauze and wrap it around your index finger. After wetting it, you can dip your finger in baking soda or doggie toothpaste. Rotate it around in your dog’s mouth and you have a free makeshift brush.

dog's teeth smile

What’s the Easiest Way to Remove Tartar For Your Dog?

To minimize tartar, brush your dog’s teeth weekly (more often if possible). Dental treats are specifically made to reduce canine tartar (Luke and Jake go crazy over them!) Also, raw bones scrape away tartar, but aren’t recommended for all breeds. Ask your vet for the best brands for your dog’s breed.

Professional Cleanings

Eventually, you should take your dog to get a professional cleaning performed by a veterinarian. This is especially true of older dogs. This is more expensive than home care, but a professional cleaning is the best way to safeguard your dog’s oral health. A vet exam can reveal teeth that need to be removed and other health concerns. How often you need to take your dog for a cleaning is dependent on breed, age, and lifestyle. Again, this is a question best answered by your vet, but most dogs need a professional cleaning at least every two years.

How Much Do Vets Charge to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth?

dog's teeth cleaning
The lowest cost I found in my area was $200 to $300. Older dogs cost about $125 more due to additional build up and risks related to age. This doesn’t include deep cleaning or tooth extractions, which add hundreds of dollars to the bill. Basically, the better job you do at home, the cheaper this visit will be.

Dental cleanings take 45 to 75 minutes depending on the condition of your dog’s teeth and gums. It can take more time if additional procedures are required, such as extractions. Which take 1 to 2.5 hours.


Most people don’t think much about their dog’s teeth between cleanings at the vet or until there is a major issue. With just a little time and effort, you can improve your dog’s oral health. In turn, it also impacts his overall health and well-being – not to mention the benefit of eliminating doggie halitosis.

To be honest, I do this about once a week with a toothbrush and a few times a week with gauze or dog-tooth wipes. Luke and Jake are 10 and have all their teeth, so I am going to call that a success. It’s not as bad as you might think and only takes a few minutes.

dogs teeth aurthorAuthor Bio: Gemma has been writing on pets for about 6 years and started blogging to offer advice to clients and other pet owners looking for ways to keep their four-legged buddies happy and healthy. She is also an admin of ParakeetHome and MacawLand blogs.