Features April 2012 Issue

How to Properly Care for Your Dog's Teeth

It’s time you learned about your dog’s teeth: What healthy teeth look like, and how to get them healthy if they aren’t.

[Updated December 18, 2018]

It’s funny: We share our homes with another species of animal, whose most dangerous feature is its teeth – and most of us know little or nothing about those teeth, other than the fact that we should probably be brushing them. It’s time to correct this situation.

Canine Dental Health

From front to back: Incisors are the little teeth in the front of the dog’s mouth. Immediately behind these are the canine teeth (fangs); behind them are the premolars and then molars. Note how the dog’s premolars and molars are mostly peaked, not mostly flat like ours.

First, some canine dental basics. Most animals (including humans) have teeth that reflect the diet they subsisted on as they evolved. Though we humans have a few mildly sharp teeth in the front of our mouths that we can use for tearing, most of our teeth are built for grinding plant-based foods so that we can better digest them. Conversely, most of the teeth in a dog’s mouth are built for tearing animal-based foods, with just a few teeth that crush their food before they swallow it.

Dogs’ teeth are not as sharp as cats’ teeth, but their teeth and jaws are much stronger. Their dental anatomy enables them to grab and kill prey animals that may be much larger than themselves, tear through thick hides, slice and pull flesh from bones, crack open small bones in order to consume the marrow inside, and gnaw on bigger bones to strip away and consume every bit of meat and connective tissue.

Most adult dogs have 42 teeth, though our genetic manipulation of the species has resulted in dogs with fewer or more. Reportedly, the gene that is responsible for hairlessness in the hairless breeds, such as the Chinese Crested, also modifies dentition, often leaving these breeds with fewer teeth. Doberman Pinschers often are missing molars.

Most adult dogs have six incisors (front teeth) on the top jaw and six on the bottom; two canine teeth (the largest “fangs”) on the top and two on the bottom; eight premolars on the top and eight on the bottom; and two molars on the top and three molars on the bottom.

The dog uses his front teeth – the smallest and most fragile teeth – for his most delicate operations. He uses these teeth to groom himself, pulling burrs and insects from his skin and coat. He also uses them when scraping edible tissue from the surface of bones. (This is likely the evolutionary basis for the behavior that many dogs engage in when they strip the “fuzz” off of tennis balls. Some dogs do this so persistently that they wear down the incisors if not prevented from access to tennis balls.)

While the term “canine teeth” is admittedly somewhat confusing (aren’t all the teeth in a dog’s mouth canine teeth?) the appellation is somewhat understandable when you realize that the dog’s “fangs” are the most distinguishing feature of his species. Whether it’s a Chihuahua or Great Dane, a dog’s canines are the ones that look most impressive when bared, and leave the deepest holes in a person they’ve bitten.

Few of us look far enough back in our dogs’ mouths to appreciate this, but dogs’ premolars and molars are far pointier than human molars. Many of us imagine that dogs are chewing and grinding their kibble much as we chew cereal, but in fact, dog premolars and molars can’t actually grind. Grinding requires an animal’s jaws to move sideways; think about how a cow or llama grinds its food, with extreme sideways jaw action. Dog jaws can’t move sideways! Instead, the dog’s strong jaws and large peaks on the premolars and molars are used to crush large chunks into smaller ones. Not much more physical processing of their food occurs in the dog’s mouth.

As much as dogs can be said to chew, most of the chewing action is provided by the premolars. The molars, located at the far back of the mouth – where the dog has the most jaw strength, like the base of a pair of pliers – are mostly used for extreme crunching.

Puppy Tooth Eruption

We can use the timing of the eruption of puppy teeth and adult teeth to help us estimate the age of a young dog, but after he’s about eight months old and has all his adult teeth, we have to use other clues to estimate his age, such as the amount of staining, wear, and accumulation of tartar on his teeth.

Canine Dental Health

This pup still has her deciduous canines (the teeth people think of as “fangs”), and some of her deciduous incisors (front teeth). Some of her adult incisors are emerging, though. She’s probably about 3 months old.

Puppies are born without teeth. The “deciduous” or “puppy” teeth start emerging when pups are about 4 weeks old. First to arrive are the front teeth (incisors, six on top and six on bottom), which emerge when the pup is 4 to 6 weeks old; the canines (two on top and two on bottom) erupt when the pup is about 5 to 6 weeks old; and the premolars (six on top and six on bottom) erupt at about 6 weeks. There are no deciduous molars.

The deciduous teeth are incredibly sharp. It has been speculated that the sharpness of puppy teeth serves to further two important developmental processes: weaning and bite inhibition. Too-vigorous biting, during nursing or play, causes an abrupt end to the previously gratifying activity, teaching the pup, through trial and grievous error, to restrict the severity of his bite. (For more about the development of bite inhibition, see “A Light Bite: Teaching Bite Inhibition,” WDJ June 2010.)

Soon enough (although perhaps not soon enough for most puppy owners), the pin-sharp puppy teeth begin to fall out – or, rather, are pushed out by the eruption of the adult teeth. The puppy teeth are generally lost in the order in which they arrived; and the adult teeth erupt in the same order: first the incisors, then the canines, and then the premolars. There is more variation in the timing of the eruption of the adult teeth, a wider window through which they may first be glimpsed. The adult incisors generally erupt between 3 to 5 months; the canines usually appear between 4 to 6 months; and the premolars between 4 to 5 months. The molars emerge between 5 and 7 months.

Sometimes a single tooth or a few deciduous teeth fail to shed even as the adult teeth erupt, resulting in a crowded-looking mouth. When this happens, it’s best to have your veterinarian extract the unshed puppy teeth, to prevent them from allowing the adult teeth to develop in an improper position.

This entire process of tooth eruption, loss, and eruption, lasting for many months, keeps the puppy’s mouth in constant torment, and he has to chew on things to relieve the sensation – hard things, soft things, chewy things, gummy things, crunchy things, anything, and everything! Knowing this, the wise puppy owner makes certain that the pup has lots of “legal” chew toys, and toys in every category (hard, soft, gummy, chewy, crunchy, and everything in between). If you fail to be thorough in providing chew toys of all textures, he’ll be sure to explore anything that you don’t want him to have that provides that missing, novel chewing experience.

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth: Yes, You Need To

Here’s what most dog owners really want to know about their dogs’ teeth: “Do I really have to brush them?”

Although veterinary dental specialists would prefer that all owners brush their dogs’ teeth, the fact is that some dogs need it more than others. Whether it’s due to their genes, diet, chewing habits, and/or the chemical composition of their saliva, some dogs go to their graves with clean, white teeth and healthy gums with absolutely no effort put forth by their owners. Others develop tartar (also known as calculus) at an alarming rate.

The accumulation of plaque (a “biofilm” on the teeth that contains bacteria) and tartar (a mineralized concretion of plaque) is not just unsightly, it’s unhealthy. Tartar buildup at and under the gum line enables the entrance and growth of bacteria under the gums. Most dogs who have bad breath also have gingivitis – swollen and inflamed gums, usually bright red or purple, and which bleed easily. Unchecked, these bacterial infections in the gums slowly destroy the ligament and bony structures that support the teeth (periodontitis). Because of the ample blood supply to the gums, infections in the mouth can also poison the dog systemically, potentially causing disease of the heart, kidneys, and/or liver.

If your dog’s teeth are free of plaque or tartar, and his gums are tight and free of any signs of inflammation, you are one of the lucky ones. If, however, his gums are noticeably more red at the gum line and he has any visible tartar buildup on his teeth, you need to have his teeth cleaned by a veterinarian and then maintain the health of his teeth and gums with regular brushing and veterinary cleaning.

Canine Dental Health

This poor dog’s dental hygiene has been severely neglected. The thick layer of tartar on her teeth has led to severe gingivitis (note the swollen, purple gums). Her incisors are practically falling out, and she’s likely to feel chronically ill from the bacterial burden she’s bearing.

If you are one of the unlucky ones, and your dog’s teeth and gums need your intervention to stay healthy, how often do you really need to brush your dog’s teeth? Put it this way: the more you brush, the less frequently you’ll need to pay for a veterinary cleaning. Whether you would prefer to invest your time in patiently training your dog to enjoy having his teeth brushed or would prefer to invest in your veterinarian’s time is up to you!

A Few Dog Tooth Brushing Tips:

- Start out slow, and be patient. Don’t try to brush all of your dog’s teeth on the first day. Use a circular motion, gently scrubbing plaque away from the gum line. Reward your dog frequently and richly with treats and praise.

- The “brushes” that you wear on your fingertips don’t tend to work as well as brushes with softer bristles – and they make it much easier for your dog to accidently bite down on your finger. Look for very soft-bristled brushes with long handles, so you can make sure you reach the molars. For larger dogs, soft brushes meant for adult humans work fine; baby human toothbrushes work well for smaller dogs.

- If your dog will tolerate it (or you can positively and patiently teach him to accept it), electric toothbrushes work great! For some dogs, however, these whirring, vibrating brushes are a deal-breaker, no matter what kind of treats you offer.

- Use a toothpaste designed for dogs. They come in flavors that are meant to appeal to dogs (meaty, not minty) – and they are free of fluoride, which can be toxic to dogs. (Remember, dogs don’t know to spit the toothpaste out!) Look for products that contain antibacterial enzymes, which help discourage bacterial growth and resulting gingivitis.

- Dip the brush in water frequently as you brush, to help rinse the plaque away from your dog’s teeth, and to facilitate a thorough application of the antibacterial enzymes in the toothpaste.

Want more details on brushing your dog's teeth? Check out this Dogster.com post.

Get to a Veterinarian

It can be painfully expensive, but the value of having your dog’s calculus-encrusted teeth cleaned at your veterinarian’s office is incalculable! The only way all of his teeth (even the molars) can be scrubbed completely of the tartar, above and below the gums, is under general anesthesia. This must be done at a veterinary clinic.

Whether due to the cost or the perceived risk of anesthesia, people want so much to believe that there is another way to get the dog’s teeth clean. Once a dog has a lot of tartar on his teeth, though, the only effective treatment is a professional cleaning under anesthesia. Once his teeth are clean, you can prevent the need for further veterinary cleaning only through scrupulous home care (brushing) – but you just can’t brush a tartar-encrusted mouth back to health. For one thing, you can’t (and shouldn’t try) to brush under the dog’s gums; this area is cleaned at the vet’s office with sterile instruments and with the use of a fine mist of water, which washes the bacteria out of the dog’s mouth. The ultrasonic (vibrating) tools available to the technician are also much faster and more accurate than any tool you would have access to.

What about “anesthesia-free” cleaning? Witnessing a veterinary cleaning, with the dog under anesthesia, is pretty much all you need to realize that no one is capable of doing what needs to be done to get a fully conscious dog’s teeth really clean. The most cooperative dog in the world just isn’t going to lie down on a table under necessarily super bright lights (so the technician can thoroughly examine the teeth for any signs of chips or painful fractures) and allow a vibrating, misting tool to be employed on his molars.

Further, in most states, it’s illegal for anyone to use a scaler on an animal’s teeth except under the supervision of a veterinarian. While there are many technicians and groomers who may be capable of removing some dental calculus from your dog’s teeth, only a veterinarian is qualified and equipped to recognize, diagnose, and treat any related (or unrelated) conditions the dog may have, such as fractured teeth or oral cancer. If his periodontal disease is advanced, x-rays will be needed to evaluate the supporting structures of the teeth.

Of course, in order to safely anesthetize your dog, your veterinarian will likely require a blood test in advance of the cleaning appointment, to evaluate your dog’s kidney and liver function. If his function is reduced, extra precautions and perhaps a different anesthetic protocol can be used.

Depending on your dog’s age and condition, your veterinarian may also administer intravenous fluids to your dog during the procedure, which can help regulate the dog’s blood pressure. The presence of an IV catheter and proper hydration levels also make it possible for a veterinarian to immediately administer life-saving medications in case of an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. In an emergency, the use of calcium, epinephrine, and/or atropine needs to occur as quickly as possible; having an IV in place makes this possible.

Finally, veterinarians can prescribe and dispense antibiotics to help your dog fight off any bacteria that was dislodged by the cleaning and absorbed into his bloodstream, as well as provide any sort of consultation or aftercare needed. The price tag of all of this can be large – and it can vary a lot from vet to vet, ranging from $400 to $1,400 (or even more if the dog requires tooth extractions).

After all this, you’ll probably be motivated to give that toothbrushing a try. Do it now, while you’re good and motivated; it could add years to your dog’s life.

Comments (33)

Does any one know where to get a vet to clean my 9 year old chihuahuas teeth without anesthia in the southern part of Indiana?

Posted by: autumnsunset | June 15, 2016 10:27 AM    Report this comment

I make my living cleaning the teeth of cats and dogs without anaesthesia. I am a certified pet oral hygienist and have a number of vets who actually refer animals for cleaning. If simple cleaning is all that is necessary you do not require anaesthesia. I have done everything from chihuahua to great Dane to Maine coon. Shame on you for perpetuating misinformation that is spread simply to protect the veterinary monopoly.

Posted by: Doggies Grins | June 12, 2016 3:55 PM    Report this comment

Posted some time ago about my GSD and his visits to his dentist. He is our rescue and his first dentist visit was to check him out. He did get a root canal and cleaning at that time and tolerated it well. It's a few years later now and our GSD almost died in December as a result of bacteria, removed during cleaning, infecting his body. He was in an ER for a week recovering. He is now eight and in great health but here's where I wish this publication or someone could help me figure out how to manage my dogs dental care. I do brush his teeth every evening. He is on a Sr. now Orijen (lower fat content)/ home cooked chicken, veggies, pumpkin, piece sardine, Cod Liver Oil, Omega 3 and Kefir. I try to do everything that's right for him and so now about my confusion. I have read many pros and cons about feeding bones. I understand that one never feeds cooked or dried bones ever to a dog. Raw is the way to go and keep refrigerated or frozen between chews. Some articles suggested goat bones and so forth. There are other articles that say absolutely no bones and to rely on your veterinarian dentist. My dental vet said no to bones as he's seen too many broken teeth. Please Whole Dog Journal write a really in depth article, from many perspectives, about this very dilemma.

Posted by: Woof | March 27, 2015 2:12 PM    Report this comment

@so disappointed in this silly and uninformative article regarding brushing dogs teeth.... we expect better of you! raw bones is the whole approach answer. My 15 , 13, and 10 year old dogs all have healthy teeth(per vet). I have had many dogs, most living up to 15/16 and I never, ever brush teeth or even worse, subject them to vet cleaning.

this is NOT a silly article nor is it uninformative...I have a healthy dog who is prone to gum disease...she has a super healthy diet, gets plenty of treats that by all accounts should scrape her teeth clean...and she still required a surgical procedure to prevent her gum disease from getting worse. You are super under informed about this issue...and just happen to be very lucky with your dogs.

Posted by: gracek | August 16, 2014 7:56 PM    Report this comment

Check out Veterinary Oral Health Council

Posted by: Nakotah | June 9, 2014 8:48 AM    Report this comment

VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council). Check it out!

Posted by: Nakotah | June 9, 2014 8:46 AM    Report this comment

so disappointed in this silly and uninformative article regarding brushing dogs teeth....
we expect better of you! raw bones is the whole approach answer. My 15 , 13, and 10 year old dogs all have healthy teeth(per vet). I have had many dogs, most living up to 15/16 and I never, ever brush teeth or even worse, subject them to vet cleaning.

Posted by: Unknown | December 12, 2013 1:16 PM    Report this comment

I have had my Labrador Retriever for 7 years since I rescued her at age 3. I try and brush her teeth daily using PetzLife Oral Care Gel and once or twice a month I give her a natural rawhide bone. The vet checks her twice a year and so far tells me her teeth are fine.

Posted by: Arnie | November 30, 2013 8:45 AM    Report this comment

We are blessed with 3 furry Bedlingtons, two are therapy dogs, the other a rescue. Because one works w/compromised health elderly, I won't use raw diets. They are also kissing dogs and for that reason alone won't use raw food. Chewing raw bones is great if you have lab fur. But for mine, it would be a nightmare cleaning effort afterwards (12 paws and legs, 3 furry mouths). So I use CET toothpaste and rinse every day. Genes have a lot to do with mouth chemistry. One of mine looks like an orthodontist straightened his teeth, strong, very white, no plaque. My youngest developed plague as a puppy!! I have been brushing his teeth ever since. I also use a leftover cleaning tool from my dentist to clean plaque off when it builds up on my youngest...very careful not to make his gums bleed. I do this maybe every 4 months. It seems to help in combination with daily cleanings. My rescue had exposed gums on her canine upper and lots of plaque. She needs yearly vet cleanings plus daily brushing, rinsing. I taught her to submit to brushing by using a high playful voice and tolerating her licking and evasive tactics for a while.Now she's settled into the routine. I am lucky enough to have a dentist that only charges abut $225 for cleaning, anesthesia, and blood work. Wow...our vet in Arizona wanted to charge 600 more.

I think the most compelling part of the article is that if you don't do something about the plague, those bacteria can cause organ damage!! So at a minimum treat your dog's teeth as you would your own, to your best ability and then if it doesn't succeed, try the vet method. By the way anesthesia is not deadly, it is performed for many dog operations as well as humans. Yes there's a risk, but so is there for severe plaque. Try an AAHA certified hospital if you can...they have higher standards and may be more versed in methods. Ask your friends, call vets and ask how they do it.

Posted by: bedlingtons | August 12, 2013 10:58 AM    Report this comment

Interesting article. I adopted a 4 yr old Rat Terrier whose teeth were laden w/plaque buildup. After he got used to a raw diet, I started giving him beef shank or knuckle bones to chew on a couple of times a week. In just a couple of months the plaque was gone. I did the same w/our Queensland/Ridgeback mix. She passed away at 12 years of age but had beautiful white teeth & healthy gums.

Posted by: s.ched | August 11, 2013 9:07 PM    Report this comment

My 9 year old greyhound builds up a lot of tartar. I was having his teeth cleaned anesthesia free, but it became evident that he needed a vet. He went under anesthesia, the vet pulled 12 teeth, but the worst part was my dog's reaction to the entire process. It took two days for my dog to de-stress, and for the anesthesia to work out of his system. Greyhounds do not have enough fat in their bodies in which to absorb anesthesia. I later found out that he was not worked on in the vet's office for about 4 hours after I dropped him off -- this resulted in his being extremely stressed prior to the procedure. I have read a lot of material on greyhounds and discovered they are different than most dogs in their blood and body composition. I will never put him under anesthesia again! I am attempting to brush and spray his teeth daily. He is an aggressive chewer and because of having multiple dogs in my home, I am not able to give him large bones -- he swallowed a raw turkey neck practically whole several years ago. I would love to read an article that addresses the differences of sight hounds (greyhounds) and an extensive product review for dental items that actually do what they say!

Posted by: Judy A | August 11, 2013 1:01 PM    Report this comment

I an interested to know where to find a dental tech who is able to clean a dog's teeth without anesthesia (Donna H's comment, above). I have been searching for one in Western Pennsylvania without any luck.I also refuse to risk anesthesia on a routine basis. This seems like a dangerous prospect, overall.

Posted by: Janet M | August 11, 2013 8:52 AM    Report this comment

I found this article interesting only in that it gave details of a dog's dental pattern and habits. The rest was little more than a commercial for very overpriced veterinary care. This is totally not in keeping with the holistic views of this site and I hope that an article giving more concrete info from a holistic viewpoint will be published.

Posted by: VirgoRising | August 10, 2013 7:32 PM    Report this comment

The article was OK but I would like to share how I introduced my six year old GSD to a toothbrush. I inherited Montana about four years ago and it was challenging to get him, this wonderful wild dog but now mannerly, to submit to a toothbrushing. Fortunately I have a home with carpeting that allows him purchase in chasing a ball. I learned to tire him out and, while he was panting with the ball in his mouth, I introduced him to the toothbrush. In short order we were able to transition from play and ball to full out love my toothpaste kind of adventure. The most difficult application is the toothpaste as he licks and licks and licks. I make my own using food grade glycerin, baking soda and (his favorite) a little dot of pure orange extract. He also likes mint. His gums are healthy and his teeth beautiful. I do take him every other year for a scaling. I do not like having him anesthetized but the buildup of tartar on the back teeth is more than my brush can keep up with. I understand that they actually secret a substance that is the foundation for plaque and especially on the back teeth. Hope this helps someone.

Posted by: Woof | August 10, 2013 5:19 PM    Report this comment

Nothing new. This sounds like the typical article in a monthly dog publication sold on newstands; one picked up on an occasional basis. That is NOT the typical WDJ reader. We are NOT wet behind the ears. Virtually ALL of us KNOW... cleaning teeth is as essential to our dogs' well-being, as it is to our own health. How-tos & reviews on products, are what is needed.

Posted by: Betsy | August 10, 2013 4:21 PM    Report this comment

oh please.. get some BIG raw bones, like lamb leg or pork hock/should joint, cut most the meat off (unless you feed raw) and let them chew at least bi-weekly(weekly is better) for an hour or so. refreeze and bring out weekly/bi-weekly. 12+ years of feeding raw and my 15 yr olds teeth are fine as are the 12, 7 and 2 yr olds.

Posted by: wkmtca | August 10, 2013 3:16 PM    Report this comment

I think the article was quite helpful. And, I learned some new things about their teeth formation, etc. Use a soft brush in circular motion, starting away from gums. Ask vet for a dog type toothpaste in an agreeable flavor and use lots of water, sounds reasonable to me. How much more info can they give you! As you try and do it, you Nd the dog will become more proficient at it.

Posted by: Unknown | August 10, 2013 1:29 PM    Report this comment

I have had my dog's teeth cleaned by our vet 3 times. I also brush them at least 3 times a week. After the last cleaning 3 years ago the vet suggested that I try a product called "Healthy Mouth" which is mixed with her drinking water.Even after 3 years she still doesn't have any plaque formation on her teeth, but I still brush them as well. Healthy Mouth is fantastic. My dog is an eleven year old Pom and doing great except for her "knee" problems.

Posted by: joyce l | August 10, 2013 12:51 PM    Report this comment

I try to take good care of my two dogs, including teeth brushing almost :-) daily. Vet dental work/cleaning is very expensive so that's a big motivator, in addition to concern for my dogs' oral health, of course. I agree that a product review would be very helpful, but that wasn't the focus of this article. I think the point was to inform people who may not be as aware as some of the commenters, of why we need to care for our pets' teeth. In my view, it accomplished that goal well.

Posted by: ChrisR | August 10, 2013 11:55 AM    Report this comment

This was disappointing. I have a relatively new rescue dog and I would like to keep his teeth white as they are now (he's young). Putting him under is not an option. There is no how-to info on at home care in this article.

Posted by: Kim M | August 10, 2013 11:26 AM    Report this comment

my dogs see a "NON anesthetic" dental tech twice a year and she does as good a job as my vet does with the anesthesia. AND it's quite a bit cheaper. Vets would get more buy in for teeth cleaning if they did not charge so much!!!

Posted by: tomatogirl | June 2, 2013 6:31 PM    Report this comment

Have to agree this was a disappointing article. It doesn't provide specifics re: brushing, such as the best kind of toothpaste, how often to do it, how to accustom a dog to it. What if you brought home an adult rescue dog, how would you get her started? There is no mention of non-invasive products that propose to 'dissolve' the plaque/tartar or prevent it from forming in the first place, such as Leba III among others. And I am convinced the risks of anesthesia are far more substantial and real than 'perceived', and should only be used as a very last resort, not as a routine maintenance call.

Posted by: Dietlinde W | March 24, 2013 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Disappointing article!! This is all information most dog owners already know. How about some natural product recommendations? Some "brushing training" how-tos? Some mention of the various water additives and non-toothpaste cleaners? (i.e., the cheese powder...the name escapes me, but Wysong is the brand.) Please do a follow-up, WDJ, that is more in line with your readership and natural approach to dog rearing!

Posted by: Kristina N | March 23, 2013 3:54 PM    Report this comment

Disappoointing article = just stated what we already know. In addition to brushing and doing all the right things - would like to learn about products that make the plaque fall away or stop it from forming. thanks

Posted by: Unknown | March 23, 2013 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I brush my dogs' teeth every day, and it only delays the teeth cleaning. Raw bones are fantastic for keeping teeth clean, but one of my dogs is an aggressive chewer and has broken two teeth, even though we used the recommended raw knuckle bones, so no more bones for her. My other dog has no interest in chewing on bones at all in spite of spending several months encouraging him to chew. So it's back to brushing which neither of them like. And like some of the other commenters here, I wonder about the ingredients in the dog toothpastes. We also tried Greenies at one point, but those caused severe stomach problems in one of the dogs, and I don't think they really did anything for their teeth.

Posted by: Rainbear | March 23, 2013 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I have heard good things about Tropi Clean - Fresh Breath water additive. You put a cap full in their drinking water every time you change the water. There is no colour and no scent to it. It helps to break down the tarter, so that when the dog or cats eat, the food will help clean the teeth.

Also, raw bones have also kept my boys teeth sparkling white.

Posted by: Joanna T | November 27, 2012 9:15 PM    Report this comment

After a person has lost a dog to the "perceived risk of anesthesia," you know that risk is real. And yes, the time I lost a dog was for cleaning her teeth.

Posted by: KIM M | November 27, 2012 8:02 PM    Report this comment

The plaque builds up quickly on one of my dog's teeth. I have had them cleaned by my vet several times. I brush them every day, but it doesn't seem to make a noticeable difference. I would love to see a discussion of products that might make a difference in this battle. I really hate to put him under so often.

Posted by: STICKLEY E | November 27, 2012 7:03 PM    Report this comment

I'm also a bit disappointed in the article. Similar to others, I am looking for more hands-on information on the daily "how to" of dental care, especially brushing. My dog does not like a toothbrush in his mouth at all, especially in the back, and tries to avoid it by twisting and turning. Plus, he licks the tooth brush to get the poultry tooth paste, which makes it almost impossible to brush the molars at all. It would also help to have some information on brushing and for small and large dogs - it's really a lot more uncomfortable for small dogs to have a tooth brush in their mouths. So, a product overview (brushes, fingerbrushes or other tools) as well as toothpastes and gels. Like Gina E., I'd also like more info on recommended ingredients. Many of the commercial brands contain sugar alcohols, and at least one of the popular "natural" brands contains grain alcohol, neem oil and a couple other ingredients that I'm not sure are safe.

Posted by: Kathleen H | April 24, 2012 12:56 AM    Report this comment

I agree this article was very disappointing. I was hoping to find out how to care for my dogs teeth on a day to day basis with natural options. This article seemed like a promotion for my veterinarian. Not helpful at all.

Posted by: Charlie | April 23, 2012 6:48 AM    Report this comment

I also would like more information on specific products for at home dental care.
The week this article was published, our 6-year old dog had his first dental cleaning. All went well and I was advised to brush my dogs teeth daily along with applying Oravet dental gel (Merial) weekly.
The first ingredient in the C.E.T. Enzymatic tootpaste (Virbac Animal Health) provided by my Vet Clinic is "sorbitol" - a sugar alcohol. Is this safe?
Also, I've seen differing instructions on whether to use water with pet toothpastes.
Finally - anyone have any tips on brushing while the dog's tongue is continually in motion? Makes it tough to even see the lower back teeth.
Linda H.

Posted by: Unknown | April 10, 2012 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Gina E. I would have to agree with you. My vet gave me a solution I put on a Q-tip to gently clean my dog's teeth, and as far as products go I like to stick to crunchy treats and kibble to keep their teeth strong and clean. But you have to be careful because some of the treats you can buy are also full of bad ingredients. I found healthy little biscuits called Healthy Bones that are nutritious, crunchy, and my dogs actually like them too.

Posted by: Kiki22 | April 3, 2012 1:22 PM    Report this comment

Disappointed in the article as it only addressed dental cleaning by a veterinarian and not did not address dental products (other then dog toothpaste) that help to balance the chemistry of the mouth and keep a dog's teeth clean and healthy. It also did not address the fact that some dog dental products contain Xyitol which is poisonous for dogs or other chemicals which have been linked to liver and/or kidney failure in dogs.

Posted by: Gina E | April 2, 2012 7:33 AM    Report this comment

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