Dental Care for Dogs: Brushing a Dog's Teeth to Stop Bad Dog Breath

Doggy dental care is important.
i teeth image by krysek from

It’s great to spend time with your dog, but not so much if he blasts you with his rotten breath every time he gets close. Most of the time, the best solution for bad doggy breath is the same as for people: good dental hygiene.


Get a special doggy toothbrush to use on your pet’s mouth. You can get him either one that is comparable to a human toothbrush, complete with a handle, or a brush built onto a finger cover that you can wear while working on his teeth. You can even use a bit of cloth wrapped around your finger, if you prefer. Never use human toothpaste for a dog, since the ingredients can hurt him. Get special toothpaste made for dogs that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients and comes in yummy flavors like chicken and beef.


Your dog isn’t likely to be too thrilled to have you brushing his teeth, but if you spend some time getting him used to the idea he’ll accept it and may even come to like it. It’s easiest to start when your dog is a puppy, but you can do it no matter how old he is. Put a bit of doggy toothpaste on your finger and rub it gently on his teeth. Do this a couple of times a day for as long as it takes to get him used to the idea before moving on to the next step.


Start slow when you begin the actual process of brushing your dog’s teeth. He’s already used to you touching his teeth, so put a bit of toothpaste on his teeth to warm him up for the real thing, then add some more to the toothbrush. Gently slip the brush into his mouth and rub it in circles on his teeth. Continue the process until you’ve brushed all of them, removing as much of the plaque and food debris from them as you can. The more you can get off his teeth, the less smelly his mouth will be.


Dirty teeth may not be the cause your dog’s bad breath, so brushing won’t always help. If his breath stays bad even after you brush his teeth, if could be a sign of a digestive problem or trouble with his liver or kidneys—or he may simply need a professional cleaning or some other dental work. Stinky breath accompanied by unexplained vomiting or excessive drinking can indicate serious trouble and requires an immediate trip to the vet. If his breath has a sweet or fruity undertone it can be a sign of diabetes and also requires professional care right away.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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