How to keep your dog's teeth clean

7 CommentsWednesday, 13 February 2019  |  Kate

How to keep your dog’s teeth clean

Here are our top three ways to keep your dog’s teeth bright and shiny, and their breath fresh! But first...

By the time they’re 3 years old over 80% of all dogs and cats have some form of tooth decay. A build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth quickly leads to gum disease and tooth loss. A dog or cat dental procedure can cost well over £500, involves a general anaesthetic, and isn’t covered by your pet insurance.

A common question at My Itchy Dog is ‘what’s the best way to clean my dog’s teeth?’ Well, getting the plaque off and keeping your dog’s teeth clean couldn’t be simpler.

How tooth decay works

As your dog eats, bacteria builds up in their mouth. The bacteria causes plaque to form on the teeth. Over time the plaque hardens and becomes tartar (also known as calculus) which covers the teeth, including below the gum line, and continues to build. The gums become inflamed making them red and sore (you should see a healthy pink gum line). This makes the gums painful, but more importantly leads to teeth loosening making it hard to eat and leaving an operation to remove the decayed and loose teeth your only option. The vet will also give their teeth a good clean while they’re at it, but if you don’t put a plan into place you will be left with the question ‘how can I plaque off my dog’s teeth’ all over again.

To return you pet’s teeth back to health choose one of the following two methods and back it up with method number three.

Method 1: Brushing a dog’s teeth

The best way of keeping their teeth clean is by far with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Get a baby toothbrush for small dogs, and cats. Ideally, you want to be brushing every day. You can also use the toothpaste with a microfibre finger toothbrush, good for both dogs and cats. Dog’s often find a finger toothbrush easier to cope with and less stressful. We stock the Arm and Hammer antibacterial finger cleaner, impregnated with colloidal silver to help clean and protect.

Important: Always use a toothpaste made for pets. Human toothpaste is toxic to pets. It contains the artificial sweetener Xylitol. We are far bigger than dogs and spit it out when brushing. Dogs are smaller, and they swallow toothpaste. It doesn’t take a very high dose of xylitol to be fatal. So whichever method you choose make sure to use a toothpaste made specifically for pets. We recommend a natural toothpaste such as Roast Dinner paste from Dorwest.

If you have a puppy to begin with you’re on a winner as it will be easier to instil a good habit in a young dog. It shouldn’t be too hard with older dogs, it’ll just take a little longer and more training.

Method 2: Using a natural seaweed supplement

You can also keep your dog’s teeth clean using seaweed, also known as kelp. It comes a very close second to brushing. Seaweed kills the bacteria which causes plaque. It works two ways: by gently breaking down existing plaque and tartar and preventing more from building up, leaving your dog or cat with clean teeth and healthy gums. We have found the best to be CSJ Seaweed and Parsley, a finely chopped blend of the two herbs. You add a tiny scoop to your dog’s dinner every day and that’s it. The parsley in there is to freshen breath and you’ll get healthy amounts of iodine and B vitamins too. It’s natural dog teeth cleaning at its finest.

I give CSJ to my dog, Nikita and I’ve noticed that her saliva is far less slimy than when I first started her on seaweed (I know, it’s grim, but toothbrushing just didn’t work for her). She’s been on it three years now and has fresh breath, no plaque on her teeth and very healthy gums. Which why it’s one of our best-selling products.

Save bags of cash by switching

You can save a small fortune by swapping Dentastix for a seaweed supplement. For example, a medium sized dog (10-25kg) will chew through £75 worth of Dentastix in the time it takes to consume £19.50 worth of seaweed and parsley. How much more would you save on a large or giant dog? And, you won’t be feeding the wasted calories and low quality ingredients found in them either.

Method 3: Dental treats

Contrary to what I’ve just said above, healthy, natural dental chews while certainly not the answer can really help shift detritus from around the gum line, deterring plaque from setting itself down in one particular place. Make sure they’re the healthiest dental treats (see below for our favourites) and don’t use them as your sole way of keeping teeth clean. It won’t work. To assist though, try some of the best natural dental chews for dogs we’ve come across.

  • CSJ Gnawrolls - A stick made with 99% venison and 1% of the seaweed and parsley mentioned above. A natural dental treat for dogs and cats.
  • Soopa Dental Chews - Vegan dental chews available in a range of flavours.
  • Whimzees Eurostars - Vegetable chews in large or small. In the same star shape as a dentastick.
  • Yaksnaks - A hard chew made from yaks milk.
  • Natural Way - Hard biscuits for teeth and gums, made to a vegetarian recipe.

The treats above, and any others in our dental treats section have a clear list of easy to understand ingredients, eg. venison or peanut butter, not meat and animal derivatives, and don’t contain artificial additives, sugars or colours. You’ll be sure to find one to suit your dog’s tastes.

We always recommend staying away from any chew marketed as being the only thing you need to give your dog to avoid tooth decay because it’s just not possible to do so. All dental treats, chews and bones should be counted in your dog’s daily ration to avoid weight gain.

So, there you have it. Toothbrushing is the best, a supplement comes a close second with dental chews bringing up the rear to offer support. Everybody say cheese!

Arm & Hammer Microfibre Toothcleaner

Arm & Hammer Microfibre Toothcleaner

  • Microfibre for better cleaning
  • Good for sensitive mouths
  • Ideal for cats and dogs
  • Can be used with toothpaste

CSJ Gnaw Rolls Healthy Dental Chews for Dogs

CSJ Gnaw Rolls Healthy Dental Chews for Dogs

  • Suitable for dogs with allergies or those that need to watch their weight
  • A semi-moist, air-dried venison meat treat with added seaweed and parsley
  • Deters plaque and tartar from building up on teeth
  • Wheat/gluten free, grain free, low fat and hypoallergenic
Sold OutDetails

Irene Hayes
Monday, 7 July 2014  |  11:37

As a dog groomer I see dogs teeth on a regular basis and would love to stock natural products which will help in the fight against tooth plague and loss

Tuesday, 26 August 2014  |  9:41

Hi Irene

I recommend stocking CSJ Seaweed & Parsley. It's brilliant stuff and a pot will last a small dog at least a year.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017  |  0:46

This post hit very close to home. I recently discovered that my dog has been experiencing some tooth pain, and Iíve been looking for a natural remedy to reverse &/or relieve some of the damage done. Thanks for your recommendation!

Lee Mannering
Thursday, 22 March 2018  |  15:08

My Frenchie has a return of demodex mange. I have been treating her with neem oil mixed with zinc cream and caster oil. It is helping a bit but not enough to stop her chewing and scratching. Recommendations please

Thursday, 29 March 2018  |  9:16

Hi Lee

You want to wash her with Skinny Shampoo from My Itchy Dog. Leave it on for 10 minutes then rinse. Do this once then see how it is. You might need to repeat it a couple of times in the week but then it should be gone.

Use the neem oil cream you've made in between washes on any bites or sore patches.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018  |  8:31

I am ashamed to say I have been allowing our ESS to have dentastix by Pedigree!! Yes I am very sorry. Anyway I would like something that she can have each day to chew on. It is more of a routine that we have and she likes to chew on something in the morning and although the dentastix are awful, they have helped with cleaning her teeth. Any advice?

Thursday, 29 November 2018  |  11:40

Hi Pippa

I would definitely recommend Seaweed and Parsley for dental health but if you want something for him to chew on, look at the Whimzees Vegetable chews. They've got the same shape but they're a much healthier alternative.