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3 Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

by dogtoysadvisor

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Dental health is a big deal for us and we write about it often. We’ve learned from personal experience how important it is for a dog’s health and how bad it can get when you neglect it.

Does your dog have really stinky breath? A few brown stains on his teeth? Maybe a yellow hard cover over his back teeth? Does he bleed when he chews?

If your answer is yes, you need to read this.

Why dental issues are so bad for your dog

The pain and bleeding they experience go without saying.

If you notice your dog eating less already or if you notice blood stains on his chew toys or his bed, know that it will only get worse.

Ultimately, it’s just like for us humans: rotten teeth fall off and dental bacteria can spread to the blood circulation, meaning possible life threatening infections.

Overall, a list of things you wouldn’t want your beloved best friend to have to go through if you can help it.

The 4 tell-tale signs your dog is in dental trouble

There are several ways to tell if your dog has dental issues that need to be addressed.

The most obvious one is when there’s a yellow plaque covering his teeth. Look particularly into his back teeth. If you see something attached to the teeth that isn’t supposed to be there, it’s probably plaque.

If you notice blood on your dog’s chew toys, not just once or twice but pretty much every time he chews them, it means his gums are bleeding, another big sign of mouth issues.

If you offer your dog something delicious and you notice he’s having a hard time eating it, it means he’s in pain.

Last, if your dog’s breath is very bad, something died inside his mouth-bad, you’ll know he’s developing some sort of dental disease.

When your dog presents any of the factors mentioned above, it’s time to take action.

Our story

We adopted Dobby when he was about one year-old. We knew he’d had a very hard start to life but he looked pretty healthy, aside from being really skinny, which quickly changed with all the treats and food we gave him.

As we began noticing plaque buildup on his teeth, we didn’t think too much of it, he was so young, we only heard of dental issues with older dogs.

Being very inexperienced dog parents, we made so many mistakes and had such lack of information available that we did much more harm than good.

One day we noticed Dobby wasn’t eating as fast as he used to and things escalated to the point where he was bleeding every time he chewed on his chew toy.

In the meantime, we consulted vets, tried all sorts of products and even began brushing his teeth.

But it was just too late for him.

Dobby had no other choice but surgery

When he was about 4 years old, we finally decided to schedule the plaque removal procedure and in that procedure we discovered he’d already lost three teeth to plaque-related decay.

We were gutted!

It was our responsibility to take care of him and all the food and treats we gave him and the lack of dental health actually caused him to have rotten teeth, horrible breath and, we can only imagine, lots of pain.

We had to do something

That was the day we decided things would be very different from then on.

Most owners think that one procedure is enough to solve the problem, but if your dog has a tendency for plaque buildup, if you don’t make any changes after it, plaque will return sooner rather than later.

What we did to save our dog’s teeth

After speaking to experienced vets, and doing a lot of research, we created a three step plan for Dobby (and Tommy and Coco, our two Jack Russell we adopted later, of course, we knew better by then).

Step 1 – Dental Hygiene

Tooth Paste! That’s right, dogs need to brush their teeth too! Use your finger or a very soft brush and a tasty tooth paste to gently rub the back teeth and gums.

If your dog won’t have it, don’t despair, there are enzymatic tooth pastes that work pretty well even if you can’t brush his teeth. Just give it to him to lick, the enzymes with the saliva will do the rest.

Most vets recommend it and, by far, the one we saw the most results with is this:

Step 2 – Chew Chew Chew

Chews! Long gone are the days chews worsened the problem.

Nowadays, there are a couple of healthy, low carb, tasty chews for your dog that will help keep his mouth fresh and healthy.

After a ton of research and our vet’s advice, we found Veggie Dent really keeps its promise of removing plaque and tartar. We started noticing great results after just a couple of weeks.

Gluten and animal-protein free, our dogs love its taste. At the same time, even while feeding them one a day, it doesn’t upset their stomaches or intestines like some of the others we’ve tried.

Step 3 – Chew Some More

Chew Toys! Chewing is a great way to massage the gums and remove any food residues from your dog’s teeth. Pick one he loves but with lots of grooves and edges to really get to those tight spots in your dog’s mouth.

There are a few chew toys our dogs love and use often. Here is our suggestion:

How we know it works

What happened to Dobby doesn’t need to happen to your dog.

If you take the matter seriously and take preventive measures, you’ll be able to manage plaque and never allow it to form around your dog’s teeth.

We’re very proud to say that after 3 years since Doby’s surgery he has had very healthy teeth, no problems in sight.

Not only that, but the steps we took since then made a World of difference for Tommy and Coco.

Because we applied that strategy from the start their teeth are impecable! No stains, no plaque, no bad breath and their gums look healthy.

Don’t wait until you start noticing stains and plaque on your dog’s teeth to do something about it. Prevention is key.

Combining a good tooth paste with the best chews and adding chew toys they love is the key for healthy teeth and gums.

We know that, for our dogs, it made all the difference. If only we’d learned about it sooner.

Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising and iStock


  1. The phantom

    Carefuly selected bones didn’t make the list? Our vet suggested lamb and kangaroo bones for our dog or chicken necks for smaller dogs

    • dogtoysadvisor


      Thank you for your message. They didn’t get featured because we have a bad experience with bones in general so we tend to keep away. Since we only talk about the things we’ve tried and tested, bones weren’t included in our list, but if you’re vet says they work, he’s probably right!

      • Haven

        My dog has 6 k9s. 2 each on the top n I each on the lower. I brush my dogs teeth but I worry it’s not enough.

        • dogtoysadvisor

          Thank you for reaching out.
          As we’ve mentioned on our post, for us the best way to keep our dogs’ teeth healthy is to combine all three factors: chews + toys + brushing the teeth.

          Does he like chew toys? Maybe you can get him a few. That way it keeps him busy and works on his gums and teeth. The chews are also great for the teeth and doggy breath.

          Good luck!

      • Pamela444

        We have had bad experience with bones also…they splintered and we had to have a vet remove the splinter…and worse if they ingest sharp splinters from the bones that can do damage to the intestines….There is also a dental spray that can be spayed onto the teeth Complete Oral Care by PetzLife which I use and it doesn’t say to use a brush or finger brush but I do that with it also.

        • dogtoysadvisor

          Hi Pamela.

          Thank you for the tip. We can’t imagine our dogs allowing us to spray anything into their mouths, they hate sprayers of all sorts, but we’ll look into it.

          Mike and Sandy

        • Ralinda

          Never give you dog cooked bones- only raw bones. Cooked bones splinter.

    • Desiree Barlow

      Chicken necks? No certified Vet would ever recommend that for a dog. You are asking or your dog to choke to death!

      • Sandy

        Our vet did recommend chicken necks and Turkey necks

      • Hykermuma

        I have given my dogs raw, homemade food, and raw chicken necks and chicken backs since they were pups. My vet has not discouraged any of this and my oldest is 13yrs and the youngest is 5yrs and both are doing great.

        • Judith Den Herder

          neck chick and turkey …. raw or cooked? I would not
          have ever thought this good…. must be soft bones
          so they don’t penetrate …

          • KB

            Never cooked bones… only raw! It’s a great way to keep your dog’s teeth clean!

      • Darelle

        My little toy poodle has a raw chicken neck every morning & has done for the last 6 years since he was a baby…. no problems at all & he’s still very much alive 🐩

      • Vhd

        Read Desiree… please. plenty of certified vets with any degree of knowledge in nutrition would recommend raw chicken necks. Smh.

    • Tennythemonster

      Hello! I’m a vet tech at dental animal hospital (did you know dogs get root canals too?!) We do not typically recommend any bones or antlers because they cause tooth fractures in many dogs. Also steer clear of bananas, it’s one of the few times we see cavities!

    • Elaine

      Doesn’t all chicken bones splinter and could get lodged or cut their throats

      • Sue

        Only when they are cooked. Feed them raw and they are fine.

  2. Dee

    You don’t mention that HUMAN toothpaste is a BIG “NO NO” for animals. Please be certain any toothpaste used is appropriate for animals!

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Dee.

      We hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a good idea, we’ll add that warning. Thank you.

  3. Angélica

    I my dog doesn’t like to chew anything. I brush he tooth n still I can’t help him.. please help me to get a solution.. Thank U

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Angélica

      Thank you for reaching out.

      If you’ve tried all the chews we’ve suggested and he doesn’t like it and if you brush his teeth but feel he needs more help, the only remaining suggestion we can give you is to schedule a cleaning with the vet. It’s a simple enough procedure and makes all the difference.

      After that, manage it with brushing his teeth with the enzymatic tooth paste we’ve mentioned and try to reduce any starchy treats or food.

      Good luck! Let us know how it went!

    • Dee Dee

      I brush her teeth and also Fresh Breath by Tropiclean in her water and it helps.

  4. Wendy

    After trying everything, I found an interesting suggestion online that appears to be working very well. I’ve been feeding my dog a handful of frozen green beans and about half a raw carrot every day. His breath has improved considerably and his teeth are cleaning up much better, the tartar is receding. His stool is firm and so far, his paws haven’t turned orange. He loves the beans.

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Wendy

      What an excellent suggestion! We’ll try that soon and see how it goes.

      Thank you,
      Mike and Sandy

    • Marelda Marsau

      Carrots works well for cleaning teeth. From dogs to humans. My dogs keep stealing my rabbit’s carrots. Just wish the cats would do the same.

      • dogtoysadvisor

        Hi Marelda,
        Thank you for the tip.

        Carrots are a good option for most dogs as far as massaging the gums go.
        However, Tommy, one of our dogs, gets in a bit of gastrointestinal trouble whenever he eats carrots, so we don’t give it to him that often.

        Thank you,

  5. Ben

    The best way to remove plaque is to buy a scaler like a dentist uses but one made for dogs. Start slow at first, (short sessions) make your dog lie on the bed. And slowly and carefully scrape the plaque off of their teeth. This is how the Vets do it and if you are patient your dog will learn to even like it. Then when you’re done scraping and chipping the plaque off, use a washcloth with some tooth paste and scrub their teeth gently to remove any more plague residue. I do this with my dogs every 6 months. And you would be surprised how much plaque builds up on their teeth in six months. So far I have been able to train three dogs to let me do this and they even kind of like the brushing part with the washcloth. This is the scaler I use and you can get it on Amazon. Much cheaper than taking your dog to the vet, and they don’t need to be put under anethesia.

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Ben,

      Thank you for your useful tip. That sounds tricky for less cooperative dogs, but we’re sure it works otherwise.

      Thank you again

      • Anne

        Doggie chews might be great but my dog only buries them. I have been giving raw chicken necks for years. Never any problems but will try the paste.


          Chicken bones can slither and cut their stomachs or get choked on a small bone. I would ask your vet about giving your dog chicken necks. I wouldn’t

      • Clinton Bashore

        After observing the perfect teeth of my 15YO dog who had never had her teeth cleaned and the fact that not one of the teeth in the hundreds of skulls on display had cavities at UC Irvine Medical College I have come to the collusion that most tooth deposits are protective. Further upon observation of The condition of skeletons dug up by archaeologists it can be determined by their condition when sugar was introduced into the society.

        • dogtoysadvisor

          Hi Clinton.
          Thank you for reaching out. That is very insightful. We would also add genes to the contributing factors, but food is probably the number one.

          Have a great weekend,
          Mike and Sandy

    • Jodie

      Hi Ben, I did not see which scaler you use? Brand name?
      Thank you. Wish to try this.

  6. Randi Lippe

    I have been brushing my dogs teeth since he was a puppy. I use the arm and hammer toothpaste for dogs but the trick to having him sit still and liking it was to put some organic virgin coconut oil on the toothbrush and putting the toothpaste over the coconut oil. Coconut oil is not only tasty but is a natural anti bacterial product which helps clean their teeth and keeps their breath smelling good.

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Randi,

      Thank you for your input. We’ve heard about that we’ll give it a try!


  7. Penelope Smith

    I want to get a German Shepherd puppy this fall. It is good to know that I will way to watch for yellow plaque building up on his teeth. That is good for me to know before getting a puppy. I should take him to someone who could help me care for his teeth as well.

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Penelope.
      Puppies are lovely and caring for their teeth from the first moment is important, particularly when his definite teeth grow.
      You may take advise from your vet, as we did. All of our suggestions have been vet sanctioned.

      Good luck!
      Mike and Sandy

      • Kaykay

        Do they make a small dog toothbrush toy for dogs that weigh under ten pounds?

        • dogtoysadvisor


          They make them for all shapes and sizes, of course!

          Good luck and let us know how it went,
          Mike and Sandy

          • Pragya

            I use a baby toothbrush with a drop of edible glycerin to gently massage my dogs teeth. Seems to freshen their breath and they don’t mind it. I however do this only 1-2 times a week. In the old days, nannies used to clean young babies tongues with glycerin using a cotton pad, that’s what prompted me to try this on my pets. Somehow it does help. Any more thoughts?

  8. Sandra Haddock

    My dog was a street dog for several years and has lost 2 or 3 teeth and the remaining are covered with plaque and tartar. I even think that she goes without eating because of her teeth. My alternative is to have her anesthetized to clean her teeth, but she has a grade 3 heart murmur and I’m not comfortable putting her to sleep to do this.

    I’ve been very slow and patient trying to brush my dog’s teeth but she bites down on my finger or the brush and I can’t get any brushing done. A friend of mine told me that enzymatic toothpaste doesn’t need to be brushed in to be effective, that just getting it into her mouth is enough because it’s enzymatic. Do you know if this is true or not? If true and that type of toothpaste works, I will order it. Thank you.

    • dogtoysadvisor

      Hi Sandra.

      Kudos for adopting an street dog, that’s amazing!

      Regarding her teeth, with a heart murmur we wouldn’t recommend getting a vet cleaning for that reason, the anesthetics can be dangerous for her.

      Yes, the enzymatic paste does a good service on its own, but it probably won’t solve your situation, mostly it will stop it from increasing.

      However, we’ve found a Toothbrush Dog Toy you can add the enzymatic tooth paste to so that your dog will brush her own teeth without noticing, thus making it much more effective.

      Since the paste is flavorful, she’ll have a blast doing it.

      Good luck, please let us know how it went!
      Mike and Sandy


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