Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health.  There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends.

Listed below are some commonly used options for home oral hygiene that have been proven to benefit dogs. Combining several methods will achieve the best results.  All methods of home oral hygiene share the goal of preventing or controlling periodontal disease by minimizing plaque (bacterial film) accumulation, and preventing the mineralization of the plaque to form calculus (“tartar”).


  1. Brushing your pet’s teeth is critical to maintaining oral health between professional dental exams. 
  2. Plaque can cause periodontal disease. This film is easily disrupted by the simple mechanical effect of brushing the teeth. Frequent (ideally daily) brushing is recommended to maintain optimal dental health.
  3. The key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach.
  4. Focus on brushing the outside “cheek teeth” located under the upper lip.
  5. Toothbrushes designed for dogs are soft and angled to assist in brushing the back teeth. Some dogs prefer finger brushes.
  6. Use pet-specific toothpaste that come in flavors that your pet will love.
  7. Avoid human toothpaste as they can contain harmful ingredients. 
  8. Use toothbrushes or finger brushes designed specifically for your pet.
  9. The American Veterinary Dental college does not recommend cow hooves or dried natural bones or hard nylon products because they are too hard and can damage teeth and gums.
  10. PlaqueOff and Healthy Mouth are natural products that may be helpful to soften and decrease the amount of plaque as well. They are added to drinking water, sprinkled on food, and some formulations can be spread directly to teeth.

Brushing Tips with Megan, our head oncology nurse

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