Canine Dental Cleaning: A 5 Step Program

Canine dental cleaning is important for all dogs, but dogs that eat soft, canned foods or home-cooked meals are more prone to dental problems than dogs on dry-food diets. Follow these steps to ward off dental problems and even heart disease in your dog.

  1. Position your dog correctly. If your dog is small, it's best to work with her on a table or other stable, elevated surface. For a larger dog, the floor of her favorite room will do.
  2. Inspect your dog's mouth, gums and teeth. Healthy gums are pink, black (or spotted in some dogs) and firm. Plaque or tartar appears as soft white material or hard white, yellow, or brown matter and should be brushed away.
  3. Use a finger toothbrush for canine dental cleaning. This type of brush fits right on your index finger so you have more leverage when rubbing your dog's teeth; even if she squirms. Finger toothbrushes are made of soft rubber and are effective for gentle brushing.
  4. Add dog toothpaste to the finger-brush or other implement. (Toothpastes come in vanilla, filet mignon, seafood and other canine-friendly flavors.) Clean her teeth by section in a circular motion. If using a handled brush, clean teeth in downward strokes.
  5. Get a professional cleaning if your dog's gums are irritated or if she has extensive plaque. Those can be signs of deeper periodontal problems. Take your dog to a veterinarian for a professional canine dental cleaning. After that, make brushing a weekly routine.