Doggie Dental Care – A Checklist for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Our dogs are at risk from suffering the same sorts of dental ailments as we are. Cavities, plaque, impacted teeth and periodontal disease are all common in dogs. Even though these problems can be more prevalent in certain breeds of dogs, preventative care and regular checkups should be provided for all breeds. Here is a doggie dental care checklist to keep your dog’s mouth healthy, his teeth clean and his breath fresh.

(   ) Regular checkups – You may have noticed that when you take your dog to the vet, she always checks his teeth. In doing so she’s checking for tartar buildup and signs of periodontal, or gum, disease. Catching any doggie dental care problems early can prevent the need for expensive intervention later on.

doggie dental care

Your veterinarian will check your dog’s teeth for tartar buildup and gum disease during his regular checkup. Image credit: Tom Bjornstad

(   ) Daily brushing – Just like us, dogs need to have their teeth brushed daily. Special brushes and toothpaste (in flavors like beef and chicken) are available at most pet stores. To get your dog used to you working in his mouth, start off slowly by putting a little of the toothpaste on your finger and rubbing his gums lightly. Gradually increase the time and pressure you use until he is ready for the brush.

(   ) Mouthwash – Special mouthwash that contains either Oxygene or grapefruit seed extract helps to kill bacteria that causes periodontal disease. There are generally two types: one is sprayed directly onto your dog’s teeth and gums while the other is added into his water dish.

(   ) Dental toys – There are dog toys available that contain flexible ridges that remove plaque and massage the gums. They allow you to be mindful of doggie dental care even when your pet is playing.

doggie dental care

Dog toys that contain hard ridges or rubber spikes like this one help remove tartar from the teeth and massage the gums as your dog plays. Image credit: Leonardo Aguiar

(   ) Dental treats – Occasionally switch out one of your dog’s regular treats with one made especially for his teeth. Like dental toys, these doggie dental care treats are hard and designed to remove plaque as your dog chews.

(   ) Dry food (the larger bite the better) – Switching your dog to a dry food rather than moist or canned food can improve his dental health. Buy the largest bite your dog can easily handle, as the larger the pieces, the better job it does at removing plaque.

(   ) Specialized diet for dental care – If your dog is prone to dental problems your veterinarian may recommend switching him to a dental diet, specially formulated to treat dental issues and improve oral health.

doggie dental care

Your dog’s dental hygiene is important to his overall health. This pooch is getting his teeth polished so they’re squeaky clean. Image credit: Karen Barefoot

(   ) Cleanings and extractions when needed – No matter how good care you take of your dog’s teeth, he may still need to have a “dental” from time to time. Dentals generally require putting your dog under anesthesia so that his teeth can be thoroughly cleaned and tarter removed. In certain cases, he may also have to have some teeth removed. This procedure can be very expensive which makes preventative care well worth the time and effort.


    • Vera – Our little guy is almost eight and he hasn’t had to have a dental yet. But he will probably need one within the next couple years.

    • Nancy – I was surprised when I first heard about the mouthwash, too. Like … how is a dog expected to gargle? LOL

  1. It is really important that you take care of your pet’s oral health. In fact it can be really beneficial to their overall health to ensure that their teeth and gums are taken care of.

    • Absolutely! An abscessed tooth, for instance, can become a very serious health problem if not treated quickly and effectively.

  2. I never realized that taking care of a dog’s teeth and mouth were that important. But I guess it makes sense, if we want to keep OUR mouths healthy we need to take care of them.

  3. We started brushing our dogs teeth as soon as we brought them home. It is so important to take care of your fur babies teeth. Dental toys are a great tool to use.

  4. A lot of pet parents have no clue that dental hygiene should be a part of their daily routine. It would be awesome if shelter’s and other adoption centers would help educate pet parents like you are here about how to taking care of their puppies teeth!

  5. We recently adopted two cats, and one is missing all her teeth except her top two fangs. I guess living as a stray with no dental care caused her to lose her teeth. At this point, after consulting with a vet, we are hoping those last two teeth fall out on their own without intervention.

    • Oh, bless her heart! I had a vet once who said her cat only had two teeth left but that she was still able to eat dry cat food. They are amazing animals!

    • My little Winston (Yorkie) loves his dental chews. But he tries to gulp them like any special food/treat. I keep telling him to take his time and savor each bite, but he doesn’t listen. LOL

  6. I don’t have any dogs, but I know this is important. All animals need to be taken care of, especially their teeth. They’re a lot like us too.

  7. We should know that taking care of a dog’s teeth’s are really important. Dental care is such an important thing like us.

    • I know! But I think that’s great. It shows that more and more people are caring for their pets to a greater degree of detail.

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