Something that we rarely think about as dog parents is our dog’s oral health, and it shows as 80% of dogs over the age of three years old have active dental disease! This disease can range from mild to severe and involve the gums, periodontal structures, and the teeth themselves. Dental disease starts when food and bacteria are left on the teeth that then lead to tartar and plaque. That tartar and plaque causes bad breath, a painful mouth, loss of teeth, and the bacteria can even get into the bloodstream and cause problems, like heart disease, elsewhere. So, what can you do about it? First of all, have your pup’s mouth regularly checked by a veterinarian and start brushing regularly to restore those pearly whites.
You’re probably thinking there’s no way your dog is going to let you anywhere near their teeth with a brush and some toothpaste, so choosing the proper equipment will go a long way in ensuring that your dog loves having their teeth brushed for lifelong dental health. Not all toothpastes for dogs are created equal, so we’re here to help you find one that’s not only effective at cleaning teeth, but also tastes great and is easy to use, one that’s just right for your dog.
How to Choose the Best Toothpaste for Your Dog
If you’ve ever shopped for pet products, you know that there’s seemingly millions of options to choose from. Dog toothpaste is no different, so how do you choose? You first want to look for one that’s effective at treating and preventing dental disease. Next look for one that your dog may actually enjoy, or at least not mind too much. Then choose one that fits your budget and schedule. Dog toothpastes offer many different options, let’s break those down now.
- Ingredients: First and foremost, do not use toothpastes that contain the sweetener xylitol. This sweetener, commonly found in human toothpaste, can cause dramatic changes in blood sugar and organ damage. That aside, dog toothpastes may contain enzymes, which help bust up tartar and remove bacteria, or silica which is abrasive enough to remove tartar, but gentle enough to not harm your dog’s mouth. Dog toothpastes may also contain emulsifiers like tetrapotassium phosphate which is used to break down tough tartar. You may also choose to go the organic or natural ingredient route for your dog’s toothpaste ingredients.
- Flavor: Dog toothpaste manufacturers have thought of everything, including taste, when it comes to producing a useful product. Realizing that dogs might not prefer the common mint flavor that we like in toothpaste, dog toothpastes come in flavors like liver, poultry, salmon or malt. Of course, you can also get mint flavor if that’s something your dog enjoys.
- Tube size: Many dog toothpastes come in trial sized packets so that you can test the product before investing in a whole tube. This makes it much more convenient to try out different flavors and ingredients without as much waste. Once you find a dog toothpaste that both you and your pup can agree on, you can definitely buy a bigger size.
- Expiration date: Depending on how often you’re able to convince your dog to let you brush their teeth, you may have to worry about the toothpaste’s expiration date. For dogs that only get weekly or biweekly brushings, you may need to be more careful. However, for dogs that get daily brushings, you usually won’t exceed the expiration date on most dog toothpaste tubes.
- How it is used: Some dog toothpastes require a brushing action in order to best breakdown tartar and plaque buildup, while others are applied and left to set-no brushing required. The type that you buy will depend on how well your dog tolerates having their teeth cleaned.
- Brand and price: Just like any pet product, there is a wide range of prices on dog toothpastes. You’re best off talking to your vet about brands that they recommend and then settling on one that best fits your budget. This is a product that you will be buying for the lifetime of your dog, so make sure you find a dog toothpaste that you can easily get your hands on and can afford for years to come.
Review of the 8 Best Dog Toothpastes on the Market 2021
In order to better help you pin down that perfect toothpaste for your pup, here’s a list of the top eight best dog toothpastes on the market for 2020. It’s up to you to find that one that best fits yours and your dog’s needs.
1. Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
- Best for: naturally cleaning teeth with enzymes to break up tartar buildup
- General description: Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste is a product made of natural ingredients like enzymes, aloe, baking soda, grapefruit seed extract and others to effectively clean teeth while still being gentle and soothing to teeth and gums. This toothpaste can be applied in three different ways: a dab on the tongue for instant fresh breath, applied to teeth with your finger tip, or brushed on with a toothbrush. It is a natural flavor, meaning no artificial flavorings were added. This toothpaste from Vet’s Best now comes in an easy to squeeze 3.5 ounce tube.
- Pros and cons: It seems that the natural flavor that Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste has is pretty good, as most dogs seem to like it. It works well to clean teeth and to keep them clean in between professional dentals. The three application methods also makes it easy to use.
2. Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Natural Peanut Flavored Dog Toothpaste
- Best for: easy oral care at home
- General description: Nylabone contains the ingredient Denta-C which is scientifically proven to reduce tartar and bacteria in your dog’s mouth. This promotes fresh breath and healthy gums. This 2.5 ounce tube comes in a natural peanut flavor, something that most dogs love.
- Pros and cons: The dog toothpaste from Nylabone is very effective, if you can get your dog to use it. Even tough to brush dogs mostly didn’t mind this toothpaste with a finger brush or fingertip application.
3. Arm & Hammer Dog Dental Care Toothpaste
- Best for: safe for all dogs, including puppies
- General description: Arm & Hammer Dog Dental Care Toothpaste is formulated with, of course, baking soda to provide a natural cleaning product. It also includes enzymes to break up tartar buildup to freshen breath, promote gum health, and decrease bacterial loads. If that weren’t enough, there are natural herbs included to help soothe irritated gums. Arm & Hammer comes in 2.5 ounce tubes in chicken, beef, or vanilla flavors, making it easier to find a flavor for every dog. Even though it comes in dog friendly flavors, the scents are actually human friendly, like mint. It is also 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
- Pros and cons: Dogs seem to like the flavor of Arm & Hammer Dog Dental Care Toothpaste. Even if you don’t like aroma of chicken or beef, don’t worry. The flavor is for the dogs, the scent of mint may be more appealing to you.
4. Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs
- Best for: Helps reduce tartar and plaque buildup
- General description: Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste uses, you guessed it, enzymes to break up tartar and plaque that harbors bacteria. This toothpaste is non-foaming, meaning no rinsing required and easier for dogs and dog parents to use. It comes in a whopping 6.2 ounce bottle with a poultry flavor.
- Pros and cons: This toothpaste from Petrodex really seems to work, especially on those small breeds with problematic teeth. Producing excellent results is only part of it. Dogs also seem to really like the flavor. The extra large size tube means that you get a better value for your money as well.
5. CET Virbac Plaque and Tartar Control Enzymatic Dog and Cat Toothpaste
- Best for: inhibiting the formation of plaque
- General description: CET Virbac has long been in the business of pet dental care. They have created naturally antibacterial products that help to clear tartar and plaque buildup and keep it from returning, leaving your dog with fresher breath, less bacterial buildup, and healthy mouth. There are natural abrasives in this toothpaste to better scrape the tartar from teeth as well. These 2.5 ounce tubes come in a variety of flavors, including poultry, malt, beef, vanilla-mint and seafood.
- Pros and cons: With such a wide variety of flavors of CET Virbac Plaque and Tartar Control Enzymatic Toothpaste, you’re sure to find one that your dog will like, and most dog parents did. They were also pleased with the cleaning results and fresher breath that this toothpaste provided.
6. Ortz Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrush Set
- Best for: reaching and cleaning all dog teeth
- General description: This toothbrush set from Ortz is the perfect companion to any dog toothpaste. It features several styles and sizes of toothbrushes to choose from, including finger brushes and long-handled brushes. The long-handled brush also has a curved head to make those back teeth easier to reach and a dual head to make it easy to switch between large and small bristles. The finger brushes have expandable openings to accommodate any finger size.
- Pros and cons: Even though most of the information on this product is about the toothbrushes, the toothpaste also seems to work well. Dogs like the flavor, and with the combination of brushes, was able to get a completely clean and healthy mouth.
7. Paws & Pals Dog Dental Care Kit with Brush, Tooth-Paste & Dual Finger Brush
- Best for: the overall dental care of your dog
- General description: This dental kit from Paws & Pals contains two, seven ounce tubes of toothpaste, one long toothbrush and one finger brush- everything you need for proper dental care. The beef flavor leaves pleasantly fresh breath and even contains calcium carbonate to strengthen teeth as well as clean them.
- Pros and cons: The Paws & Pals Dog Dental Kit makes it quick and easy to get all of the dental care products for your dog in one convenient location. The toothpaste works well to clean teeth and freshen breath with the added bonus of strengthening teeth as well. Most dogs like the taste and owners love the look and smell of their dog’s mouth after use.
8. Petsmile Professional Dog Toothpaste
- Best for: no toothbrush required cleanings
- General description: Petsmile Professional Dog Toothpaste works best to prevent plaque and tartar buildup following a professional cleaning. The ingredients include Calprox, which is a combination of calcium peroxide and minerals to dissolve that sticky tartar film without the aid of a toothbrush. It comes in a 4.5 ounce tube with a London broil flavor.
- Pros and cons: This toothpaste from Petsmile is extremely easy to use, no toothbrush required! You just apply with your finger and leave it on. Most dogs like the London broil flavor, making it even easier to use.
Importance of Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth With Toothpaste
Keeping your dog’s mouth healthy is a huge part of keeping their entire body healthy. It’s all connected. With that in mind, some benefits of brushing your dog’s teeth with toothpaste include:
- Better smelling breath: All dog parents notice when our pup no longer has that pleasing puppy breath and instead smells like something we would cover with a trash can lid. Stuck on food particles, tartar, and plaque harbor bacteria that have a foul odor. Removing that old food and tartar also removes the bacteria that causes that nasty breath.
- Removes tartar and plaque buildup: If your dog’s smile isn’t as bright white as it used to be, it’s because of ugly tartar and plaque buildup. Not only is this buildup unsightly, it is also irritating to the gums and smells bad. Brushing with dog toothpaste helps to break up that buildup and prevent it from returning in the future.
- Great gum health: Gums should be a healthy salmon pink color, not red and angry. Irritated gums can also be painful and bleed. Tartar and plaque buildup at the gumline can irritate and infect gums until they’re sore and bloody and will possibly even recede.
- Prevent tooth loss: Gums aren’t the only thing in the mouth that can become irritated or infected by dirty teeth. The periodontal tissues are subject as well. These tissues are responsible for holding the teeth in place. If they become inflamed or infected, they can actually weaken and cause the teeth to fall out. Regular tooth brushing with a quality dog toothpaste will prevent this inflammation and keep the periodontal tissues strong and supportive to those all important teeth.
- Prevent systemic disease: Bacteria that live and reproduce in the mouth don’t stay in the mouth. In fact, they can travel all over the body, setting up shop and causing damage in other organs like the heart. Keeping your dog’s mouth clean and bad bacteria-free will go a long way to promote overall, whole-body health.
Tips For Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth With Toothpaste
Now you know what to use, but how do you use it? Your tooth brushing technique is just as important as the products that you use in how effectively clean your dog’s teeth get and how enjoyable the experience is for them.
- Tip 1: Start slow. Some dogs don’t take kindly to having things in their mouths, especially your hands. Start by only lifting their lips and brushing the teeth you can reach from there with your finger alone. A finger brush or a small damp cloth may be more comfortable than a long toothbrush until you get them used to the process.
- Tip 2: Choose the time and place. Don’t attempt to brush your dog’s teeth unless they’re in the mood for it. Nothing will ruin the experience faster than forcing it on them. Wait until your dog is calm and willing, preferably after a long play session or walk, after some great one-on-one time with you, or just before bed.
- Tip 3: Find products that your dog likes. With all of the options out there, you should be able to easily find a flavor of toothpaste that your dog loves and that is effective at cleaning and preventing tartar buildup. You can always test the toothpaste flavor by putting a small amount on your hand and letting your dog sniff or lick it. You should also be able to find a toothbrush design that is easy for you to use, effective, and favorable for them.
- Tip 4: Use the least restraint possible. Sometimes dogs will fight being held down more than they actually hate having their teeth brushed. With this in mind, properly preparing your dog for what’s about to happen will go a long way in ensuring their cooperation. However, it may help to have another person on hand to gently hold their head or their lips up the first few times until your dog gets the hang of it.
- Tip 5: Don’t forget the gums. Focus on circular motions with the toothbrush or your finger, and be sure to get all surfaces of the teeth. You should also gently brush the gums. Not only does this remove food particles and bacteria, it also stimulates blood flow for happy, healthy gums.
- Tip 6: Start with a professional cleaning. If your dog already has some degree of dental disease, your toothbrushing will be more effective if you get them professionally cleaned first. This will remove all of the existing tartar and plaque and provide you with a clean slate. It’s much easier to keep teeth clean with toothbrushing than it is to get them clean.
- Tip 7: Praise often. Tell your pup what a good job they’re doing often throughout the process. Take breaks to pet or play with them and then resume brushing. It may take several sessions to get the whole mouth clean when you’re first beginning, and that’s ok. The more your dog learns to enjoy having the teeth brushed, the better off you’ll all be in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Toothpaste
Your dog’s dental health is an important piece of their overall health. When professional cleanings aren’t enough, it’s time to invest in some at-home dental care products, mainly a quality dog toothpaste and toothbrush. The dog toothpaste that you choose should above all be safe, then effective and easy to use. No human toothpaste products, please! Talk with your veterinarian about the toothpaste options available and then use trial and error to find one that your dog likes as well.