How to clean your dog's teeth

Did you know that dogs suffer from tartar and plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease just like humans? Our furry friends need proper mouth care and dental hygiene to prevent dangerous health problems such as heart, kidney or liver disease.

I’m a bit fanatical about teeth cleaning and dental hygiene! Very often, you can find me brushing my teeth up to four times per day. So, you can imagine when it comes to Silky and Holly, I make a point of keeping their teeth in great shape
Most pooch owners don’t know how to clean their dog’s teeth – here are some easy tips for you to follow.

• Start cleaning your dog’s teeth AS A PUPPY!
If you start cleaning your dog’s teeth from a young age, he is more likely to be used to the idea than if you decide to start at a later stage

 • Choose the RIGHT TOOTHPASTE for your dog
Use a vet recommended toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth – there are a wide variety of dog toothpastes which are quite pleasant tasting. People sometimes ask me ‘Is human toothpaste safe for dogs?’ The answer is NO! NEVER use human toothpaste for dogs as it contains fluoride and is very TOXIC for dogs! You can also use pure organic coconut oil to brush your dog's teeth with - no added harmful chemicals! 

There are tooth brushes specifically designed for dogs. Vets recommend a double-headed tooth brush at a 45 degree angle with soft bristles to clean below the gum line. There are also pet toothbrushes which fit over the end of your finger, like Pet Dent's finger toothbrush for pets, which helps when you have a little dog like Silky. ‘Can I use a human toothbrush to clean my dog’s teeth?’ you may ask. The answer, again is no . Dog’s teeth and their mouths are shaped differently to people – so don’t ever use a human tooth brush to clean your dog’s teeth.

• PREPPING YOUR POOCH for the great brush off
Choose a time when your dog is fairly relaxed to begin brushing – a good time is usually after you’ve taken him for a long walk or he’s had some exercise. If he seems unusually stressed, use PetCalm – a 100% homeopathic remedy to reduce anxiety and stress in pets. This will calm him down nicely and make it easier to clean his teeth.
Your dog needs to get used to the idea of you fiddling in his mouth! Initially, let him lick flavoured doggy treats off your fingers. Practice massaging your dog’s lips with your finger first in a circular motion and then move onto his teeth and gums.
Next, you can progress to using a bit of doggy toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it into his mouth. Once your dog is used to that, move onto placing the pet safe tooth brush into his mouth so that he’ll become used to the different texture of it.
Be gentle and go slowly. Speak to your dog in a calm, soothing tone. Quit if he becomes restless and tense, and offer a reward for a good prep session.  You don’t have to get it  100% right the first time. Far better to first concentrate on getting your dog used to the idea of having his teeth brushed – so that it does not become an ongoing battle to clean your dog’s teeth regularly in the future!

• It’s all about TECHNIQUE
When you clean your dog’s teeth, the brushing technique is very important! Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and start cleaning in small, circular motions.
Focus on working on one area of the mouth at a time – brush the upper canine teeth first. See how many teeth your dog will allow you to do first and gradually increase the number.
Brush at least two to three times per week – the more often you do it, the easier it gets! PROMISE!

HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.


  • Visit your vet every 6 to 12 months for a check-up and professional teeth cleaning.
  • If you feed your dog a natural diet, make sure he has plenty of chews. If your dog is on a dry food diet, it will help towards maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
  • Offer your dog chew toys or treats regularly. This helps to get rid of plaque build-up and keeps teeth strong and healthy.

Natural Solutions

  • An excellent natural supplement for pets to maintain healthy teeth and gums and prevent gum disease is Natura Pet Dog Breath Freshenerwhich is a 100% safe and natural, which cleans and deoderises teeth and gums and prevents gum infection as well as controls bad breath by fighting odour-causing bacteria! Add a few more years to your dog’s life by choosing safe and gentle alternatives that work naturally!
  • While you may be practicing good dental care for your dog, he may still have a smelly breath. A natural breath freshener for dogs is just what you need! Natura Pet Dog Breath Freshener freshens and cleanses doggy breath in a jiffy and can further help to prevent gum disease and infections in the mouth – helping to keep your dog’s teeth and mouth fresh, healthy and clean for longer!

HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

Cathy Samuel is a resident pet health consultant for Feelgood Pets PetAlive and has many years experience lending her advice to pet owners across South Africa , featuring on the local radio from time to time to answer phone-in questions from listeners. She currently lives in Cape Town with her husband and two furry kids - Holly and Silky.  *This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, nor replace any advice or a consultation with your vet. If you are concerned, please speak with your vet.

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