According to the Animal Medical Center of New York, more than 85% of dogs over the age of 3 have some sort of dental problem requiring treatment. It’s something many dog owners don’t even think about, but brushing your dog’s teeth is an important part of maintaining their overall health and welfare. Just as humans need to clean their teeth to remove plaque and tartar, the same goes for your precious pooch. When you consider that dogs use their mouths to explore – and taste some pretty gross things! – it’s hardly surprising that oral hygiene is so critical. Not brushing their teeth can leave you pup vulnerable to various periodontal and gum diseases, as well as painful infections, which in severe cases and if left untreated, can even prove fatal. Yikes!
So, how exactly do you go about cleaning your dog’s teeth, and what dog dental care products do you need? To answer these, and other questions, we’ve put together a list of the best dog toothbrushes on the market, as well as a full guide to how, when and why you should brush Fido’s pearly whites – to help you become the best possible amateur doggy dental technician!
The Best Dog Toothbrush
Toothbrush. Suitable for small dogs or cats, this top-rated toothbrush has a particularly tiny head and slim handle, allowing you to reach even the hard-to-brush bottom teeth in your furry friend’s mouth. Many reviewers comment that they have been able to clean all their pup’s teeth properly for the first time with this toothbrush!
The bristles are small and fairly stiff, and whilst some owners were worried they were too stiff, most agree that this allowed them to clean their pup’s teeth without moving the brush too much once it was in their mouth – certainly a good thing for any canines reluctant to have their canines cleaned! This small dog toothbrush is available in a random color, and as a set of 1 or 2 brushes.
Super-slim pet toothbrush
Suitable for small dogs and cats
- Weight0.32 ounces
If you have a large furry family, this pack of 6 Cat & Dog Toothbrushes by Pet Rebuplique is a great choice. Each brush has a dual head, with one larger and one smaller size, making them perfect for pets of all sizes, or for cleaning the different sizes of teeth in your dog’s mouth, without having to switch brushes. The 8-1/2-inch-long handle also makes it easy to reach the teeth at the back of your pup’s mouth.
The pack of 6 brushes should last a year of daily brushing for one dog, or you can make use of the fact they come in two colors (black and yellow) and assign them to 2 (or more) of your fur babies – so there’s no arguing!
Suitable for small and large dogs, and cats
Pack of 6
- BrandPet Republique
- Weight2.4 ounces
As great as the above dog toothbrushes are, sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re cleaning your pup’s teeth thoroughly – especially if they like to squirm! If this sounds familiar, a finger toothbrush might be the answer. These Dog Finger Toothbrushes by H&H Pets Professional slide onto your finger like a thimble, and have built-in curved plastic bristles to allow you to brush your pup’s teeth with your finger.
Many users comment that they find this method of brushing easier, although the sizing does run large, and is more suitable for men and those with a ring size of 7 and above. If you have smaller fingers, the manufacturer recommends padding the brushes out with paper towel, for a more comfortable fit. They’re available in a bright turquoise color.
Set of 8 plastic finger toothbrushes
Suitable for dogs and cats
Runs large (ring size 7+)
- BrandH&H Pets
- Weight1 ounces
If you’re new to dog dental care and not sure which type of pet toothbrush your precious pooch would prefer, this 8-piece RosyLife Pet Dog Soft Toothbrush Set is a great option. It comes complete with 4 x dual-ended toothbrushes (each with a larger and smaller head) and 4 x finger toothbrushes, which will allow you to experiment and find out which brush is their favorite. The reviews for this one show how much preferences vary, with some owners saying their dog loves the finger brush, and others saying they don’t think it cleans as well as the handled brushes.
This set is also a good choice if you have a multiple pets or dogs of different sizes, as you’ll be able to use the small toothbrush head for little mouths, and the larger end for your gentle giant. The brushes and finger brushes come in a variety of colors, so you could assign each pup their own color of brush. Altogether, this set is an affordable, all-round option.
Set of 4 x dual-ended toothbrushes, and 4 x finger toothbrushes
Suitable for small to large dogs
Great for newbies
- Weight0.64 ounces
For pups with sensitive gums, or those who really oppose having their teeth brushed, the Duke’s Pet Products Dog Double Sided Toothbrush Set has super-soft bristles, to cause as little irritation as possible. One reviewer mentions that these are the only toothbrushes their small Pomeranian would accept for brushing their sensitive teeth, and that the bristles remained soft over time– unlike some other brushes, which stiffened after a few uses.
There are 2 toothbrushes included with this set, and as with many of the other options on the market, the brushes are double-ended, with a larger and smaller head for different sizes of dogs, and teeth. The 8.5-inch-long blue handles mean you won’t have to get your fingers too near your wriggling pup’s mouth to attempt the brushing – minimizing the risk of accidental nips!
Set of 2 toothbrushes
Dual-ended with a larger and smaller head
Super-soft bristles suitable for sensitive teeth
- BrandDuke’s Pet Products
- Weight0.8 ounces
If you’re taking your pup on the road, but don’t want him to miss him out on his dental care routine, consider the Arm & Hammer Toothbrush for Dogs. This handy dog toothbrush is very similar to a human travel toothbrush, and folds inside the pink-colored handle for easy and hygienic transportation.
The fold-away design also makes it easier to keep the toothbrush clean, as keeping the bristles covered reduces exposure to bacteria. The handle is curved, which many reviewers comment makes it easier to hold, but others have found its short length makes it difficult to reach the molars at the back of their dog’s mouth.
Brush folds into handle
Easy to keep clean
Good for travel
- BrandArm & Hammer
- Weight1.6 ounces
Another great all-round option for the first-time doggy dental assistant is this BOSHEL Dog Toothbrush Set. The set includes 2 x dual-ended toothbrushes, as well as 1 x finger toothbrush, all in a matching turquoise blue color. The toothbrushes have a different-sized brush on each end, making them suitable for dogs of all sizes. The included finger brush can be used on its own, or in combination for the brushes to better remove trapped food and plaque along the gum line.
These dog toothbrushes also have an ‘ergonomic design’ – meaning that the heads are angled backwards, to allow you to clean both front and back teeth effectively. The handles are long, so unlike with our previous brush, you shouldn’t need to put your whole hand inside your pup’s mouth to reach his back molars (phew!)
Set of 2 x toothbrushes and 1 x finger brush
Dual-ended brushes, suitable for dogs of all sizes
Long handles and ergonomic design
- Weight0.32 ounces
If you like the idea of a set of dog toothbrushes, but think your pup might prefer a finger brush style, this GOLF Pet Dog Toothbrush Set includes 1 x blue, dual-ended toothbrush and 2 x finger brushes (in lovely pastel pink and mint green shades!)
The bristles of the toothbrush are soft, and there are several reviews which comment on the longevity and quality of the bristles. The two varying sizes of brush head makes it suitable for cats and dogs of all sizes (check out the images from the manufacturer of pets getting their teeth brushed for a guilty giggle!)
Set of 1 x toothbrush and 2 x finger brushes
Suitable for cats and dogs
- Weight1.6 ounces
This set of Alfie Pet by Petoga Couture Avant Cotton Finger Brushes is ideal if you think you and your pup would prefer a finger toothbrush to a conventional toothbrush. Unlike other finger toothbrushes, these finger ‘gloves’ are made from cotton, which allows you to feel your dog’s teeth much more clearly when brushing. There’s also a thumb loop to keep the brush in place as you brush.
Included in the set are 10 finger toothbrushes of a fixed size. Each one can and should be washed and dried after use, so the set should last you a while. Reviews seem to indicate that these are best suited to small dogs, as there are no cumbersome bristles, so you can easily reach their back teeth. They might also be suitable for pups who are particularly opposed to having their teeth brushed, since it’s only your finger wrapped in soft cotton in their mouth – no nasty, bulky plastic head or bristles!
Set of 10 dog finger toothbrushes
Made from white cotton
Each glove measures 3.5-inches x 1.5-inches
- Weight1.12 ounces
The final entry on our list is another toothbrush designed especially for very small dogs. The Mind Up Toothbrush for Dogs is an especially small toothbrush with a micro head, that sits at a 15-degree angle to fit in your tiny dog’s mouth. The handle is big enough only for your thumb and index finger, so you wouldn’t want to be using this with larger breeds!
According to the many positive reviews, this is one of the best toothbrushes for small dogs on the market today, and is suitable for Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and other small breeds of 6lbs or less. It comes in a white finish.
Micro-head dog toothbrush
Suitable for ultra small breeds
15-degree angled head for better brushing
- BrandMind Up
- Weight0.64 ounces
Best Dog Toothbrush Buying Guide & FAQ
Still confused as to which brush is best? Read on for our full buying guide and FAQ to dog toothbrushes, to help you better understand Fido’s dental care needs!
Things To Look For When Buying a Dog Toothbrush
When choosing a dog toothbrush, you will most likely be confronted with 2 style options: the conventional ‘toothbrush’, like the one in your bathroom cabinet at home with a plastic handle and a bristled head, or a ‘finger brush’, a plastic or cotton glove which fits over your finger and has built-in bristles. A handled toothbrush might be preferable if you have a larger dog, or if your dog doesn’t enjoy getting his teeth brushed, and can be a bit ‘snappy’, as your fingers won’t be inside his mouth. Some handled toothbrushes are also dual-ended, with different sized heads on each end, to make it easier to clean all your dog’s teeth. However, a finger brush can be easier for smaller dogs, allowing you better control over the brushing, and keeping the time it takes to a minimum.
Fairly obviously, you’ll also need to choose a dog toothbrush that will fit in your dog’s mouth. Whilst a normal style of toothbrush will likely suit a medium to large sized pup, for small breeds or puppies, you will need to look for a brush with a small head, or use a finger brush, that is specially designed for small dogs. There are several options on our list of the top 10 best dog toothbrushes that fit this requirement, including the Mind Up Toothbrush for Dogs, which is suitable for dogs of 6lbs or less. If you’re using a finger brush, you should also consider whether it is the right size for you, the human. Many finger brushes come in a one-size-fits-all option, which may be too tight or too loose for your fingers, and could hinder the ease and effectiveness of your brushing.
- Handle Length
As well as the size of the actual brush that will be entering your pup’s mouth, you will also want to consider the length of the handle (assuming you’re using one with a handle). The longer the handle, the further away your hand will be from your dog’s gnashers – which is a good idea if your pup is new to tooth brushing. Even the best behaved mutt might accidentally bite if nervous, and with an unfamiliar object in their mouth!
Unlike human toothbrushes, many dog toothbrushes are specially angled to make it easier for you to reach all their pearly whites. As above, you might particularly appreciate this feature if your dog dislikes having their teeth brushed and tends to squirm!
Generally speaking, you should look for a toothbrush with soft bristles, as these will remove plaque and debris, but not irritate your pup’s teeth, or cause bleeding gums. You do, however, want to make sure the bristles are hard-wearing, firmly rooted in the brush, and not likely to lose their shape after a couple of uses. Check reviews for an indication of this prior to purchase. Depending on the condition of your dog’s teeth, your vet may advise you to use a brush with slightly firmer bristles, to remove built-up tartar.
- Multi-pack or single
Before buying a dog toothbrush, consider what’s included with your purchase. Many toothbrushes come as a set, with a combination of types and sizes – this might be ideal if you’re just starting out with a dental care routine, and aren’t sure which toothbrush you and your dog are going to prefer, or if you have multiple pets of different sizes. Conversely, if you know what you want, you might prefer to keep it simple by buying a single toothbrush, and avoid wasting the other options.
Check out the reviews of your potential toothbrush options for an indication as to the quality and longevity of the brush, as well as feedback that specifically relates to your situation. For example, if you have a Chihuahua, and several reviews mention this toothbrush being the perfect fit for their Chihuahuas… where’s that ‘Add to basket’ button again?
What Type of Toothbrush is Best for My Dog?
As stated above, the type of toothbrush that is best for your dog will depend on a variety of factors, including their size, the condition of their teeth, and their personal preference. If they’re a medium to large sized dog, you’ll probably want to choose a normal style of toothbrush with a long handle, to keep your hand away from their teeth. If they’re a small dog, the best choice will either be a specially designed toothbrush with a small head, or a finger brush. You can and should consult your veterinarian for advice before choosing a toothbrush, but often the only way to really know which type you and your dog will get on best with, is to try them!
Who Should Buy Dog Toothbrushes?
Humans. Dogs just receive strange looks in the mall. Plus, their lack of disposable thumbs means they’re terrible at handling money. On a more serious note, every dog owner should invest in a good dog toothbrush. Ideally all dogs should have their teeth brushed at least 2 or 3 times a week, in order to remove plaque and tartar, and maintain good oral health. Failing to brush your dog’s teeth can allow tartar to build up, which can lead to a whole host of health problems. These include, but are not limited to: bad breath, gingivitis (inflamed gums), pyorrhea (inflamed tooth sockets), periodontitis (a disease which attacks the gums and bones), tooth decay and, in the most serious cases, infections which can spread to your dog’s bones and bloodstream. An infection in the bloodstream can then travel to your pup’s organs, where it can cause permanent damage, and even death. It’s pretty clear then why every owner should buy a dog toothbrush!
It is recommended to consult your veterinarian before beginning a dog teeth cleaning regime, as they may advise on a certain course of action depending on your individual dog and the health of their teeth. If your pup has existing dental problems, you might need to brush their teeth more often, or have them professionally cleaned. Your vet will also be able to advise on other ways to take care of your dog’s teeth, including proper nutrition, chew toys and treats which can help to keep their pearly whites healthy and white!
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Follow this step-by-step guide below for tips on the best way to clean your dog’s teeth:
- Build up to it
Probably the most important tip when brushing your dog’s teeth for the first time is to take it slow. Forcing a toothbrush straight into the mouth of a pup who’s never had their teeth brushed before is unlikely to end well – you’re more likely to be met with squirming, snapping and a chewed up brush! Choose a moment when your dog is calm and relaxed (not straight after playtime!), sit next to or facing him (never pin him down), and work up to a full teeth brushing gradually, by following the steps below.
- Use a dog toothpaste
One of the best ways to get your pup interested in having their teeth brushed is to use a tasty flavored dog toothpaste. There are lots of dog toothpastes on the market, with flavors ranging from beef and poultry, to seafood and peanut butter. There are mint options too, but they might not be favored by your pup - however much you’d love your dog to have minty fresh breath when he tries to lick your face! Dog toothpastes contain a combination of silica, enzymes and emulsifiers, which are specially formulated to remove plaque and tartar safely. It is very important that you never use a human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth, as they contain fluoride, which is toxic to dogs. Humans learn to spit toothpaste out, but dogs will swallow it, and this could lead to an upset stomach, or worse.
- Put toothpaste on your finger
To begin with, place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger, and let your pup lick it off. This will introduce them to the taste, and they will hopefully be more willing to allow the toothpaste into their mouths on a brush in future. If your dog doesn’t seem too keen on the flavor, try another one until you find one they love – this will help make tooth brushing seem more of a treat than a chore!
- Rub their gums
The next step is to carefully pull back your dog’s lips (make sure your hands are clean) and gently rub his teeth and gums with your finger. Keep attempting this until your pup is happy to allow it. This will get him used to having your fingers in and around his mouth, without snapping or biting, and prepare him for the toothbrush.
- Brush gently
Once your dog is used to you rubbing their teeth and gums, try introducing the toothbrush, with the toothpaste they like on it. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line, in order to best remove plaque and debris. Move in a small, circular motions, to brush both your dog’s top and bottom teeth. Remember to brush gently to avoid hurting your dog’s teeth or gums, and putting him off having his teeth brushed altogether. The most important areas to try to brush are the outsides of the back molars and canines, as this is where the most plaque tends to collect.
- Be patient and reassuring
The first few times you brush your dog’s teeth are unlikely to be particularly successful, but the important thing is to persevere and not give up. Keep the teeth brushing sessions short initially, until your fur baby gets used to it. Make sure to talk to him in a reassuring and soothing voice whilst you’re brushing, and give him a treat and some cuddles once it’s all over to show him what a good boy he’s been - and that having his teeth brushed isn’t so bad after all!
- Brush at least 2-3 times a week
Once your dog is ok with getting his teeth brushed, you should aim to do it at least 2-3 times a week (more if possible!) to remove plaque and tartar, and help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Don’t worry if he won’t allow you to brush thoroughly every time - every little helps!
Best Dog Toothbrush FAQ:
Q: Can I use a human toothbrush?
A: Ideally, you should use a specially designed dog toothbrush to brush your pup’s teeth, because they have softer bristles, longer handles and are often specially angled to make this difficult task easier. You should never use an adult human toothbrush on your dog, as the bristles are too stiff, and will irritate his sensitive gums. However, most vets agree that there’s no reason why you can’t use a human baby toothbrush to brush your dog’s teeth, providing you your dog will accept it. Make sure to select a baby toothbrush with extra-soft bristles that won’t irritate his teeth or gums, and always make sure the brush is new and clean. As previously mentioned, you should never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth, as it can be toxic to them – instead, invest in one of the many specially formulated dog toothpastes available, in a delicious flavor such as poultry. Gross, we know, but your dog will thank you for it!
Q: How often should I replace my dog’s toothbrush?
A: Most veterinarians recommend replacing your dog’s toothbrush every 2-3 months, or when the bristles start to fray and become discolored – much like with your human toothbrush. There are plenty of affordable toothbrush options on the market, and if you’re concerned about the ongoing cost, it might be a good idea to invest in one of the toothbrush sets we’ve featured here, such as Pet Republique Cat & Dog Toothbrush Pack of 6, or the RosyLife Pet Dog Soft Toothbrush Set. At the end of the day, it’s still a small price to pay for your pup’s good dental health, which can help to prevent a whole host of other doggy health problems!
Q: How do I clean a dog toothbrush?
A: You should take care of your dog’s toothbrush in very much the same way you would a human toothbrush. Rinse it with warm water after every use, and store it upright in an open-air container, away from surfaces which could spread bacteria. To clean or disinfect your dog toothbrush, soak it in a solution of 1-part water, 1-part white vinegar for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Aim to do this once a month, or more often if needed – it should be obvious when the brush needs a clean!
Our Top Pick
There are some great toothbrushes for pups of all sizes on this list, but if you have a small dog, you really can’t go wrong with the CET Pet Toothbrush. Its super-slim, long handle makes it easy to reach every one of your furry friend’s teeth, whilst the tiny brush head will fit well in their little mouth and cause minimal upset. We’re sure if you have a small dog or puppy, you’ll both be barking mad for this toothbrush!