Surely even those that love them would have to admit that one of the downsides to having a dog is doggie breath. I have three dogs now, so I am fully familiar with this drawback. The food they eat tends to be very pungent, for one thing, and they’re much more liable to put their mouths on any number of things that aren’t food than the average human might.
In addition to keeping their breath fresh, brushing your dog’s teeth prevents all the same complications that proper dental care prevents in humans. When plaque builds up on their teeth, that means bacteria is building up, which can lead to gingivitis, periodontitis, and organ failure. That bacteria travel through the bloodstream and can weaken an otherwise healthy dog.
The recommendation is to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a day. It’s true that most dog owners don’t quite have time for that, but brushing once a week while inspecting for any wounds or growths is good idea. You’ll also want to schedule a deep cleaning at the vet’s office at least once a year to get the most out of your at-home brushing efforts.
Before you pick out a toothpaste, you’ll of course want something to brush with. They make traditional brushes with long handles for reaching into your dog’s mouth. Some folks prefer the disposable finger tip brushes because they offer better control and could be safer, depending on your dog’s disposition. For a full list of our favorites, check out our best dog toothbrush post here.
For the freshest dog breath and the healthiest gums, here’s our list of the top ten options for the best dog toothpaste.
1. Sentry Petrodex Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste — Poultry Flavor
Their take on dog toothpaste is the number one seller in the category on Amazon, in part because dogs tend to love the poultry flavor. It’s non-foaming and requires no rinsing. If your dog doesn’t love the flavor, they also make a peanut flavored option in a smaller size.
Price: $8.09 for 6.2 ounces
2. Vet’s Best Dog Dental Care Gel Toothpaste
Vet’s Best is another brand we’ve had success with, appearing on our best flea sprays list and our glucosamine joint supplements list. They make natural products, relying on plant-based compounds to achieve excellent results.
This gel toothpaste is formulated from neem oil, grapefruit seed, baking soda, aloe, and enzymes that soothe your dog’s mouth and freshen their breath. This formula also whitens teeth and should be used two to three times per week. You can buy this in a kit that includes a triple-headed brush.
Price: $19.99 for two 3.5 ounce bottles
3. Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste
When humans buy toothpaste, they have options for different flavors — usually some type of mint flavor. That’s available in this formula in the form of a vanilla-mint, but in case that won’t work for your pup, there’s also beef, malt, poultry, and seafood. The variety is good, since your dog should see these flavors as a treat, so if they get sick of one, you can move on to the next. This formula is also safe for use on cats.
Virbac also make a pet toothbrush to go along with this toothpaste.
Price: $6.99 to $9.87 for 2.5 ounces (up to 32 percent off MSRP)
4. Arm & Hammer Clinical Care Enzymatic Toothpaste Gel
Again, as with toothpaste for people, Arm & Hammer makes an option for pets that focuses on the use of baking soda. This is a sorbitol-based gel toothpaste that comes in a bottle you aren’t likely to confuse with your own toothpaste. The two flavors are kind of interesting and might provide an alternative of others don’t work: vanilla ginger and banana mint.
Price: $10.99 for four ounces
5. Nutri-Vet Enzymatic Chicken Flavored Canine Toothpaste
Here’s another chicken-flavored option that uses multiple enzymes to eliminate bacteria and freshen breath. The advantage with this one is that it’s quite cheap compared to the previous options on this list. By utilizing Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, you can get the price down even further. A good option to try toothpaste the first time or to save over the long haul.
Price: $2.99 for 2.5 ounces
6. Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit
This dental care kit also represents a good value, providing both a toothbrush and a finger brush alongside the toothpaste. This a kit aimed at puppies and small breeds with the smaller head on the brush. The toothpaste itself is a standard sorbitol and silica formulation perfect for eliminating bacteria and cleaning the surface of teeth.
Price: $6.89 for 2.5 ounces (37 percent off MSRP)
7. OxGord Pet Wash Toothpaste
Another dental kit, this one comes with two large tubes — seven ounces each — in addition to a two-headed brush and a finger brush. This is a beef flavored enzymatic paste effective at removing plaque. The two-headed brush allows you to clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
Price: $14.95 for two seven ounce tubes (57 percent off MSRP)
8. Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste
As an alternative to the traditional toothpastes, you can also get formulations that don’t necessarily require brushing. This is one such formula, which is beef flavored and removes the protein build-up on your dog’s teeth on contact. Your options with this include standard brushing, simply applying a layer to the teeth, or putting on a favorite toy for in-between cleanings. This is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to inhibit plaque.
Price: $24.99 for 4.5 ounces
9. Pet King Zymox Oral Care Therapy Dental Gel
Petsmile calls itself the only brushless toothpaste, but that’s not quite true. This Pet King product also bills itself as brushless and focuses particularly on pets suffering from dry mouth. Inadequate saliva means that your dog’s mouth isn’t cleaning itself effectively, and application of this gel to the upper and lower gums twice a day can help to rectify that situation.
Price: $11.99 for 2.5 ounces
10. 4-Legger All Natural Dental Powder
While all the above options are perfectly safe and utilize naturally-occurring compounds, some folks just don’t like unpronounceable ingredients in products like these. Besides, most of the effect of cleaning teeth, human or canine, comes down to the physical act of brushing. To that end, this option relies almost solely on the abrasion of the ingredients to clean your dog’s teeth.
There are only three ingredients: sea salt, pure baking soda, and peppermint essential oil. It’s true that this won’t offer a very deep clean, but used regularly, it will be very effective at keeping plaque from building up. Sometimes the essentials are all you need.
Price: $11.99 for three ounces