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Brushing your teeth is part of your daily routine, but how often do you brush your dog’s teeth? If the idea sounds absurd to you, you might want to do a little research. Brushing your dog’s teeth is one of the most important routines you can develop. Not only does it keep bad breath at bay, but it prevents periodontal disease, which is as serious for pets as it is for people, impacting teeth, gums, and their overall health. Finding a good dog toothpaste is an important part of establishing good oral care habits.
According to some estimates, periodontal disease affects most dogs and cats by the time they reach three years of age. It can lead to painful infections and tooth loss, so staying on top of your dog’s dental care is an important part of maintaining your dog’s health. If tooth or gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria can enter your dog’s bloodstream, causing serious kidney, liver, and heart issues. Not to mention bad breath!
First, let’s start with a primer on brushing your dog’s teeth, with this video:
What Is the Best Toothpaste for Dogs?
The best dog toothpaste contains dog-safe, plaque-fighting ingredients. All of the toothpastes on our list are vet-recommended, and many contain natural, herbal ingredients. Here’s a shortlist of our picks—read on for more information and our more in-depth reviews of each.
1. Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste
2. Sentry Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs
3. Paws & Pals Dog Toothbrush and Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
4. Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
5. Vet’s Best Dental Gel
6. Nylabone Advanced Oral Care and Tartar Control Toothpaste
7. Arm & Hammer Advanced Care Tartar Control Dog Toothpaste
8. EZ Dog Pet Toothpaste
9. Nutri-Vet Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
10. Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental & Oral Care Gel for Dogs
11. Kissable Natural Dog Toothpaste Dental Kit
12. Vetoquinol Enzadent Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs
Which Dog Toothpastes Do Vets Recommend?
All of the picks on our list are veterinarian-approved. It’s important to pick a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dogs, with ingredients that are safe for pets. Dog toothpastes tout a variety of plaque- and stain-busting ingredients. Mild abrasives, such as hydrated silica or baking soda, help lift away particles as you scrub. Enzymatic toothpaste is made with an enzyme called glucose oxidase that, when mixed with glucose and oxygen, becomes anti-bacterial to target tartar buildup, oral diseases, and bad breath in your dog’s mouth.
Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Ingredients such as xylitol, fluoride, and other additives can all damage your dog’s health when ingested. Xylitol is particularly toxic, with small amounts causing blood sugar drops and ultimately liver failure. It’s in many human sugar-free toothpaste formulas (as well as in sugar-free gum).
You may or may not need to brush daily, depending on your dog’s dental needs. Your veterinarian can help you assess that.
What Can I Use for Dog Toothpaste?
One important feature of dog toothpaste is that it can be swallowed, because dogs can’t spit it out like humans do. So whether you use commercial dog toothpaste or make your own, you’ll note that the ingredients are made to be appealing and edible to canines. Broths or water, combined with baking soda, make for a good DIY toothpaste base, which you can combine with other dog-safe ingredients, such as coconut oil and mint leaves, to further clean and freshen breath.
Does Dog Toothpaste Really Work?
Just like with pet parents, the right toothpaste does work! Scrubbing away plaque and bacteria help keep your dog’s risk of periodontal disease low. Of course, it also helps if your dog likes their toothpaste, so some experimentation may be necessary. However, though toothbrushing is a very important part of your dog’s overall oral health, it should be supplemented with other healthy dental practices, such as regular checkups and the use of dental chews. Always consult a veterinarian if your dog is experiencing persistent oral health problems in case of an underlying problem.
Read on for our reviews of the best dog toothpastes currently on the market.
The Best 12 Dog Toothpastes
We rounded up 12 dog toothpastes that address issues like gum disease, plaque, stains, and bad breath, as well as some that target tartar buildup removal. We also included some options made from all-natural ingredients.
Recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, this toothpaste is available in a range of flavors, including the interestingly-named “London broil” that apparently dogs really like. It contains proprietary Calprox, which breaks down film on teeth and remineralizes enamel. It can be used with a brush or rubbed around with a finger for daily dental health maintenance.
With a smooth texture and irresistible poultry flavor, this dog toothpaste is the perfect product if you aren’t sure what type of toothpaste to start with. It features a patented enzymatic formula that reduces plaque and tartar buildup while freshening your dog’s breath. Since this toothpaste doesn’t foam, there’s no need to rinse once you’re done brushing your dog’s teeth.
For nonstop protection against gum disease, tartar buildup, tooth decay, and bad breath, this dog toothpaste cleans and freshens your dog’s breath with an easy-to-use formula and a delicious beef flavor your dog will love. This kit comes with two tubes of toothpaste, a dual-headed dog toothbrush, and finger brush for optimal hygiene options.
Virbac has specialized in animal dental health for 30 years, and their dog toothpaste formula boasts more enzymes than other brands to deliver an extra-deep clean and serious antibacterial action. From seafood to vanilla mint to beef, there’s bound to be a flavor your dog will love.
Vet’s Best super gentle dog toothpaste is made with all-natural aloe and grapefruit seed extract as well as baking soda and other dog-friendly ingredients to support oral hygiene. You only need to use it a few times a week to improve your dog’s dental health.
Available in an array of flavors your dog will drool over (liver or peanut, anyone?), Nylabone Advanced Oral Care toothpaste is a quality offering from the makers of the popular dog chew toys that includes proprietary ingredients formulated to reduce bacteria-harboring plaque.
From the makers of the popular baking soda-based human toothpaste, this Arm & Hammer dog toothpaste fights tartar buildup with the natural power of baking soda. This package comes with a 2.5-ounce tube of breath-freshening enzymatic toothpaste, a finger brush, and a dual-ended toothbrush so you have everything you need to support your dog’s dental health.
Featuring an all-natural formula and a delicious vanilla-mint flavor, this dog toothpaste promotes healthy gums and prevents tartar buildup while freshening your dog’s breath. Made with gentle natural ingredients, including a touch of antibacterial tea tree oil, this toothpaste is safe for all dogs and puppies.
This enzymatic formula polishes your dog’s teeth and freshens their breath while preventing plaque and tartar formation for improved dental health. It comes in an irresistible chicken flavor tailor-made for doggie palates.
TropiClean natural clean teeth gel doesn’t require brushing. Simply squeeze a few drops into your dog’s mouth and his saliva will do the rest, coating his teeth with gel for a quick and easy clean. This dog toothpaste features non-caffeinated green tea extract, a natural ingredient that helps fight bacteria.
This all-natural dog toothpaste aims to refresh, with a cucumber mint flavor that freshens breath while it controls tartar. It is made with all-natural ingredients, including tea tree oil for its antiseptic and antifungal properties, and sweetened with stevia for improved flavor. It also comes with a specialized three-sided toothbrush that covers multiple facets of the tooth at once, and a finger brush.
With an irresistible poultry flavor and powerful enzymatic action from glucose oxidase, this toothpaste is just what you need to up your dog’s oral hygiene game. It claims a triple-action ingredient combo to polish and remove plaque from your dog’s teeth while it freshens breath.
Other Products to Support Your Dog’s Dental Health
Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to support his dental health, but there are other products that can help you keep your dog’s teeth clean between brushings. Here are some of our favorites.
Featuring an all-natural chicken flavor and a six-point shape to clean hard-to-reach teeth, these dental chew sticks fight plaque and tartar while freshening your dog’s breath.
Available in several sizes for all dog breeds, these dog treats reduce tartar buildup, clean teeth, and freshen breath as part of your dog’s daily oral care routine. Available in mini and medium sizes as well.
If your dog hates having their teeth brushed, these dental hygiene chews can help keep his teeth clean. They’re the only dental chew for dogs made with delmopinol, which works, according to the manufacturer, to “loosen and dislodge plaque” and forms a protective barrier against plaque-causing bacteria.
These plant-based chews help keep your dog’s dental health in check by reducing plaque and tartar, freshening breath, and promoting a balanced digestive system.
Made with digestible grain-free ingredients and a refreshing mint flavor, these dental dog treats satisfy your dog’s urge to chew while boosting his dental hygiene.
Made with real blueberries for a sweet and natural flavor your dog will love, these dental dog treats reduce plaque and tartar while freshening your dog’s breath; they also break down easily for safe and gentle digestion.
These bone-shaped treats have lots of ridges to help get into your dog’s teeth while they chew—freshening their breath in the tastiest way possible.
Picking out the right dog toothpaste and dental chews is great—but creating a habit of using them is the most important part of your dog’s oral care routine. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you may need to start out slowly by first getting him used to having his teeth and gums touched. From there, you can use a little bit of toothpaste on your finger or start out brushing just a few teeth at a time.
Keep in mind as well that some dogs are picky about the flavor or consistency of their toothpaste, so you may need to try more than one brand before you find the right fit. Thankfully, as we see here, there are plenty of dog toothpastes on the market to test out—and they’re fairly inexpensive.
Regular brushing will keep your dog’s breath fresh and their teeth healthy—so you can enjoy their kisses, slobber and all, as often as they’re willing to give them!
Featured image by Split Shire/Pexels
Nia Martin grew up with cats, dogs, horses, and a goldfish that lived for eight years. Based in Seattle, her writing and photography have appeared in Seattle magazine, The Seattle Times, The Fold, Cascadia Magazine, and Bitterroot Magazine, among others. When not working, you can find her petting dogs and visiting her family’s charismatic tabby, William of Orange.
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