What Is the Best Toothpaste for Dogs?

After a visit to the pet supply store, some dog owners may wonder which type of dog toothpaste is the best choice. Several types of tooth-cleaning products are available, including rinses, pastes, liquids, gels, sprays, pads and sponges, and it may be challenging to pick the best one for your dog.

Canine Dental Care Is Important

Although it may not seem important to brush your dog’s teeth, it is. Canine mouth and gum problems can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems, including heart, kidney or liver problems.

Plaque buildup causes most dental problems for your dog. Plaque accumulates when food debris and saliva combine in a dog’s mouth, particularly at the gum line. Over time, plaque develops into tartar, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.

Dogs that have gum disease develop open pockets at the gumline where the gums pull away from the base of the teeth. Infections can form in these pockets without proper dental care. Other signs of gum disease include a loss of appetite, bleeding and pain. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have gum disease.

How to Select a Canine Toothpaste

Here are some criteria to consider as you make your final selection:

Taste: Is the flavor one your dog is likely to enjoy? Many canine toothpastes are meat-flavored, which may make them more appealing to your dog than a non-meat-flavored product, such as mint, vanilla or peanuts.

Ease of use: How difficult is the product to use? Products that are easier to use are more likely to be used than those that are difficult to apply or that present other challenges. Some owners may find that a dental rinse added to a dog’s water bowl works best for them, while others may prefer to actually brush their dog’s teeth.

Safety: It’s vital to use only products formulated specifically for dogs when brushing your pet’s teeth. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog as it contains ingredients that may upset his stomach since your pet can’t rinse and spit after brushing as we can.

What Enzymatic Toothpaste Does

Some dog toothpastes are enzymatic toothpastes. These products contain either a single chemical, glucose oxidase, or a combination of glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase. On its own, glucose oxidase helps eliminate bacteria in a dog’s mouth by creating hydrogen peroxide. The creation of hydrogen peroxide may help reduce the buildup of tartar in your dog’s mouth, which can help reduce his chances of developing gum disease. The hydrogen peroxide created by the glucose oxidase activates enzymes in the lactoperoxidase (a milk-based enzyme) to help reduce the growth of microorganisms in your dog’s mouth.

You may be fortunate and find a toothpaste you dog likes with the first purchase you make, or you may have to try several styles and brands before you find one that works for you and your pet. Try different products until you find the one that is right for both you and your dog.