Best Way To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

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I have spoken in the past about the importance of cleaning dogs’ teeth. Today I want to reiterate how vital it is for responsible owners to clean your dog’s teeth. There are many ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean and tartar free. Let me talk to you about the best way to clean your dog’s teeth, how to clean your dog’s teeth and about cleaning dogs’ teeth naturally.

Teeth. A novelty for our near-toothless Indy
Teeth. A novelty for our near-toothless Indy

But first, why is dental hygiene so important in dogs?


Why should I clean my dog’s teeth?

You will agree with me. We have moved away from the old approach about owning a dog that in the past dogs were treated as ‘animal’, never as pets or, even more, as family members, and such maintenance was reduced to the bare minimum.

Pet owners nowadays – and thankfully – do care for their dogs and, rightly so if you ask me, want the very best for their dogs.

Border Terriers are not deemed to be amongst the few breeds most at risk of dental disease. Yet, Indy has had to have dental surgery twice, and has now been left with not very many teeth.

Before I move on, I would like to point out that the lack of teeth has in no way affected Indy’s quality of life and enjoyment of his food and treats and … everything else that Indy manages to munch, typical of his scavenging nature.

It has been studied that dogs’ teeth are more prone than humans to infection. Whilst dogs’ teeth are not prone to cavities and caries like humans, they easily develop tartar and plaque build-up, and gingivitis, in exactly the same way as humans would if they didn’t brush their teeth regularly every day.

In dogs, untreated teeth can lead to:

  • bad breath
  • tartar and plaque build-up
  • gingivitis
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • infection
  • secondary medical conditions, such as heart, liver and kidney disease.

That is why it is recommended that, not only you clean your dog’s teeth regularly every day, but that you ensure your vet checks your dog’s mouth regularly too.


How To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog's teeth daily is important if you want to avoid this!
Brushing your dog’s teeth daily is important if you want to avoid this!

Cleaning your dog’s teeth is not complicated at all and does not take a minute of our busy life.

  1. As with anything to do with dog’s grooming and health maintenance, you want in first instance get your dog used to the process. That is why it is advisable to get your dog used to having his or her teeth brushed daily since they are puppies or very young.
  2. You may want to use a dog toothbrush – there are so many on the market, as well as finger toothbrushes (they look like thimbles, really), but personally I use a child toothbrush with Indy.
  3. Get hold of a good canine toothpaste whose your dog may like – NEVER USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE!!!
  4. Start by getting your dog used to having his or her mouth touched.
  5. Get your dog used to you lifting his or her lips and rubbing gently on their teeth.
  6. Praise your dog every time you brush their teeth, and make the whole process as calm and fun as you possibly can.


And that’s all it takes. Serious, that’s all that there is to cleaning your dog’s teeth.

Now, I was going to insert a little video of Indy having his teeth brushed here. Even with the few teeth Indy has got left, I still brush his teeth religiously every evening. But he really doesn’t mind. However, Indy felt camera shy yesterday evening.  So, I have found another very good video on YouTube which I would like to share with you:



By they way, have I mentioned what is Indy’s #1 recommendation for best toothpaste?  Follow the link!


Other Ways To Maintain Good Dental Care For Your Dog

Whilst brushing your dog’s teeth is something you should do every day as part of your dog’s good grooming practice, there are other ways that you can adopt to help your dog’s teeth keep plaque free.

Daily Dental Stick

Indy only has a small breakfast of dry kibble and his main meal, at dinner time, of a mixture of kibble and Nature Diet. But for his lunch Indy is fed a dental stick every day, along with another treat stick. supplies taylor made dental sticks solely with natural ingredients supplies tailor-made dental sticks solely with natural ingredients

Dental sticks have a rubbing action on your dog’s teeth, helping remove the dreaded plaque before it turns to tartar within 36 hours from building up on your dog’s teeth.

Again, there are so many on the market. Indy used Pedigree Dentastix Fresh for many years, until lately we have discovered the tailor-made dental sticks offered by

There are concerns that Dentastix may cause digestive issues with some dogs, particularly if fed to dogs that may suffer from gluten intolerance, as it contains cereals and other gluten foods. On the other hand, food is deemed more expensive than supermarket branded dog food.

Indy hasn’t had any problem with any of the two types of dental sticks. But personally I now favour purely as they put together ingredients that are tailored to Indy’s needs as a senior dog.

Use Dry Food

For many years kibble has been praised for being a better choice of food for all dogs, but particularly those dogs who seem more prone to gum disease. It is deemed that wet food by its nature, gets stuck to dogs’ teeth, and remains hidden in the nooks and crannies of your dog’s mouth, hence becoming more difficult to remove.

On the other hand, dry food, such as kibble, breaks in crumbs, which contribute to rubbing plaque away from your dog’s teeth.



Chew Toys And Synthetic Bones

Anything that has a rubbing action on your dog’s teeth is good news as far as your dog’s good hygiene. This can certainly be applied to toys.

Kong Classic is one of the most durable chewing toys for dogs
Kong Classic is one of the most durable chewing toys for dogs

Indy’s favourite are the Kong series – from the Classic, to any other model – but he also likes to entertain himself by chewing on his natural antler or on other durable rubber toys.

With regard to bones, I have intentionally specified synthetic bones for a reason : IT IS DANGEROUS TO FEED DOGS REAL BONES, particularly chicken bones.

It has been found that dogs can break bones whilst trying to munch them, and the small shards can get stuck in your dog’s throat and sometimes can cause even suffocation.

I found the Nylabone Dura Chew Bone one of the best on the market, as truly durable to the sharpest of teeth.


Clean Dogs’ Teeth Naturally

There are also a lot of ways you can maintain your dog’s teeth nice and healthy.

The aim is to keep your dog’s teeth free from plaque and bacteria at the same time.


Coconut Oil is favoured by many as a bacteria killer, and contributes to keeping your dog’s breath smelling nice.

Find out my recommendations on ways to use coconut oil with dogs by clicking here.

You may want to brush your dog’s teeth with coconut oil once a week, but I recommend that you do not completely substitute dog toothpaste with coconut oil, unless your dog shows signs of intolerance to canine toothpaste altogether.


Grapefruit Seed Extract is something I have only discovered recently. If your dog has as many gaps in his gums as my Indy due to tooth extraction, I suggest you give this natural ingredient a try.


Grapefruit Seed Extract is deemed to have antifungul, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help kill unwanted bugs burrowing particularly in between teeth and in gaps where a tooth has been removed.

You can poor a few drops in your dog’s drink or mix it to her or his meal.


Cinnamon fights infection naturally
Cinnamon fights infection naturally

Cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon is good for dogs! So long as given in small portion – I would say, no more than a tea spoon sprinkled over your dog’s meal – cinnamon has many beneficial properties for your dog.

It is ideal for senior dogs, as it improves the brain function by improving blood flow, it keeps diabetes at bay, and of course it fights infections.


When To See A Vet

Keeping your dog’s teeth nice and clean, and plaque and tartar free, is the result of a combination of all of the above. Just like with human teeth, the more you do about your dog’s teeth, the better the result.

As mentioned, it is always good practice for your vet to check your dog’s teeth regularly. Periodically, if your dog has tendency to build plaque, your vet may suggest a dental hygiene session for your dog.

This will entail the use of anesthetics on your dog, in order to keep your dog still during the procedure.

Likewise, if whilst cleaning your dog’s teeth, the vet finds some teeth prey to tartar and gum disease, they may decide to remove those affected teeth.

Whilst, I am sure, you may want to avoid your dog to be put under anesthetics – and whilst you may want to avoid the expense of what is a surgical procedure on your dog – sometimes it is necessary for your vet to intervene surgically in order to avoid infection to spread to vital organs, such as hearth, kidneys and liver.

It's not nice to have to put your dog through dental surgery
It’s not nice to have to put your dog through dental surgery

You should seek vet’s advice whenever you notice the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Bad breath
  • Loss of appetite for favourite food
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • Lethargy
  • Uncommon drooling
  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Yellow or brownish tartar crust at the base of the teeth along the gum
  • Lumps and growth on the gum or elsewhere in the mouth

Want to avoid any of the above? Clean your dog’s teeth every day!!!


If you found this post helpful, I’d be grateful if you could share it on your social media accounts. Likewise, please leave your comment below, to tell us about your dog’s dental habits and mishaps.

Thank you for reading!

Dog Teeth Tartar Prevent It With Seaweed




  1. // Reply

    Hello Giulia,

    We do not brush our dog’s teeth every day and she does have bad breath, I don’t see any bad teeth but maybe we should start brushing. She is now almost 10 years old.

    This makes sense as I brush and floss my teeth daily.

    She has been to the vet once to remove a tooth, it was a painful experience for both her and myself. The pain in her mouth put her out of commission for 3 days.

    She does not like going to the vet because she now thinks it will be another painful experience.

    Thanks for the information.


    1. // Reply

      Awww Jimmy, poor your fur lady and poor you, for having to go through such a traumatic experience! But really dogs should be checked at least once a year for the annual inoculation against kennel cough and against all the other ‘bugs’ that can affect our dog’s good health. And as part of that annual MOT, your vet would check your dog’s teeth (yes, you may have to break that news to your fur lady gently).
      I am sure if you start looking after your dog’s teeth every day, the next dental check will not be as traumatic for her as the first one. Do let us know how you get on!

  2. // Reply

    What an amazing article, so informative and detailed.
    I’ve always loved dogs, used to have one as a kid.
    I think it may be the best to take a new one again.
    Thanks a lot for your advice, I will keep it in mind.
    Keep up the great work.

    1. // Reply

      Thank you ever so much for your comment, Boby. Indy is my first dog, but yes, I understand that once you have shared your life with a dog, you cannot live without – no matter how painful loosing a dog may be.
      Let us know if and when you are gonna get another fur baby. It would be lovely if Indy and I could give your new fur baby a proper welcome 🙂

  3. // Reply

    Great information! I get my dogs teeth cleaned twice a year (done under anesthesia, which luckily is covered by the pet insurance I have for them. This is great information to keep it up more frequently in between cleaning at the vet 🙂

    1. // Reply

      Do you know, Matts Mom, this is a great idea. Whilst anesthesia is feared by dog owners, provided your vet gives you a clear bill of health for your dog, when teeth are surgically cleaned as regularly as you do, the whole procedure ends up lasting only for a short period of time, so that your dog is only given a minimum amount of anaesthetic. I wish I had been this forward thinking when our Indy was younger – this could have potentially avoided his second dental surgery altogether.
      Thank you for sharing your experience of professional dental hygiene with this forum, and by all means do come back to tell us more!

  4. // Reply

    My friend’s dog has bad breath and my friend also said he lost his appetite. Now I think about it, his dogs may have a problem with cleaning teeth.

    1. // Reply

      Furkan, from what you are telling me about your friend’s dog, it is quite possible. My suggestion, if I may, is that your friend has his/her dog seen by a vet, so that the vet can examine the dog’s teeth and advise your friend for the best course of action.
      Thank you for sharing your experience with your friend’s dog with us, Furkan, and please, do come back again 🙂

  5. // Reply

    I agree with everything in your article. Teeth cleaning is do important for your pet.
    It only takes less than a minute to brush her teeth

    1. // Reply

      You are right, Aaron. And my way of proving it to everyone is to video how quickly it takes me to do Indy’s teeth every evening. Only, I will have to wait for Indy to be in his limelight and stardom mood.
      Thank you for your comment and I hope you will come back to read more about Borders and dogs more in general!

  6. // Reply

    Thank you for all this amazing information and instruction on how to clean my dogs teeth. We will be getting a dog in the near future so this has come at the right time.
    Want to learn all I can about looking after my dog properly before we get him or her.
    Just waiting for the house alterations to be done.

    1. // Reply

      Jill, I am pleased that you are finding my advice helpful. You are right, there is so much to learn ahead of getting a dog. With our Indy, we had not exactly planned to get a dog at that very moment, as it was more Indy that found us through my step daughter, when her friend lost her home and could no longer look after him. It all happened very suddenly, but we could not let Indy go to a rescue – he had to become part of our family. And we have not looked back since. But yes, the more prepared you are for the big event, the merrier for you and your family and for the dog.
      I hope you will keep reading more of my posts, both before and after you have got yourself a lovely pooch 🙂

  7. // Reply

    We really enjoy your website. Our border terrier Rufus is happy and healthy at 10 years old.

    Quick one to add on the subject of border teeth cleaning. We found that dental sticks were just too soft and were gone in a few seconds and Rufus’ teeth were never looking any better. We now put them in the deep freeze and give him a frozen one after his walk. He loves them, they take a lot longer to eat, and his teeth are looking great!

    Regards, Jason and Karen

    1. // Reply

      Jason, Karen, thank you ever so much for the advice. I just read on Pets At Home magazine this morning, that normally dogs take between 90-130 chews to eat a dental stick. Yeah right, I thought, not a Border!!! My Indy literally knocks his dental stick within seconds – and that’s by chewing it with the few teeth he has left!!
      You are right, Border being Borders and greedy of food, can eat much faster than other breed, I find. Your suggestion makes for a refreshing treat in these hot months, and helps Borders chew more, hence cleaning their teeth more thoroughly 🙂

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