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The best toothpaste for dogs, according to vets

The essentials

  • Teeth brushing is an important part of canine hygiene — Brushing your pup’s teeth is about more than stinky breath, and neglecting it can lead to dental problems.
  • Dog toothpaste options abound — Whether it’s a paste or gel, with a traditional brush, or finger brush, there are plenty of options for pets of all preferences.
  • Not all pet toothpaste is created equal — Products labeled organic and natural aren’t always the best choice. The safest and best dog toothpastes are those that have been through clinical trials.

It’s easy to overlook dental health when it comes to your pets. But keeping your pup’s teeth clean impacts their overall health and wellness. An effective toothpaste removes plaque buildup that, if left unchecked, can cause several dental problems for your pup. To help you find the best toothpaste for your dog, our team of experts tested some of the top options on the market using criteria including ingredients, smell, consistency, and more.

How we picked these products

We scoured the internet for the most popular dog toothpaste on the market and avoided any toothpaste with questionable or potentially toxic ingredients. Our experts then chose a “top pick,” or the product that ranked the highest in all of our criteria.

Sometimes once we review a product, we don’t want to recommend it to pet parents. Some popular products didn’t make our list, and we think it’s important for pet parents to know why.

Our top pick: Petsmile

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Petsmile’s professional dog toothpaste stands out as the only toothpaste on our list accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)  . It’s specially formulated to battle plaque, using many of the same ingredients you’ll find in human toothpaste. The kit even includes a toothbrush, though our product reviewer noted it was a bit large for her small breed dog.

The toothpaste consists of high-quality, human-grade ingredients like calprox, deionized water, glycerin, citric acid, dicalcium phosphate dihydrate, and cellulose gum. These ingredients work together effectively to combat plaque. Petsmile comes packaged in a tube with a flip-top lid that’s easy to open and close. Despite its London Broil flavoring, the toothpaste doesn’t have a strong smell, which can be a plus for sensitive noses. The texture is similar to regular toothpaste and our dogs seemed to enjoy the taste.

✔ VOHC-approved ✖ Flavor may not be universally liked by all pets
✔ Pet-safe, human-grade ingredients ✖ More expensive than other brands
✔ Made in the USA ✖ Does not foam, making it more difficult to reach all the teeth
✔ No-brush formula
✔ No sulfates, parabens, gluten, BPA, or silica

What our vet thinks

The reviews are positive and the ingredients are safe. But most important to our veterinarian, Dr. Erica Irish, is that Petsmile professional dog toothpaste comes with the VOHC seal of approval. This means the product has been through at least two clinical trials and is proven to help prevent the formation of plaque and tartar.

Our gel pick: Oratene

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Our favorite gel toothpaste for dogs is designed to be applied directly to your pet’s teeth, but for maximum benefits, we recommend using it with a toothbrush. Suitable for dogs of all breeds and sizes, it’s scentless and flavorless, so even the fussiest pups shouldn’t have a problem with it.

The gel toothpaste is 100% safe with ingredients like aloe vera, dextrose, and glycerol methacrylate. It comes in a tube with an easy-to-open twist lid, ensuring the gel comes out smoothly. Not only is it odorless, most dogs don’t seem to mind the taste. The consistency is smoother compared to other pastes, making it easy to spread onto our dog’s front teeth.

✔ Simple, straightforward application ✖ May not be as effective as brushing
✔ Free from alcohol, chlorine compounds, xylitol, and chlorhexidine ✖ Flavor might not be appealing to some dogs

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish pointed out that Pet King Brands also makes Zymox, a top-rated ear treatment product. This toothpaste includes safe and effective ingredients, so she feels confident that it wouldn’t hurt to try it.

Best flavor toothpaste: Virbac

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Virbac’s toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors to suit every pup’s preference, including beef, poultry, and vanilla mint. The consistency is more gel-like compared to other options we’ve reviewed, but it’s a non-foaming pick that’s entirely safe for pets to swallow. It’s specially formulated with enzymes that help reduce plaque and freshen your dog’s breath.

The ingredients used, such as sorbitol, hydrated silica, glycerin, water, dextrose, and added flavor, are all pet-friendly. The toothpaste is packaged in a cardboard box, and, like human toothpaste, the tube has a twist-top cap. While enticing to pups, the flavors don’t smell overly strong. The toothpaste’s smooth texture makes it easy to apply, but be cautious since it tends to come out of the tube quickly.

✔ Contains C.E.T. Dual Enzyme to inhibit plaque formation ✖ Small, included toothbrush may only work for smaller breeds
✔ Facilitates easier brushing ✖ Savory flavor doesn’t provide fresh breath
✔ Works with your dog’s chewing action to help loosen tartar and control plaque

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish has used this toothpaste on her own dogs, so she can attest to its safety and effectiveness firsthand!

Tough on plaque: Vet’s Best

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Vet’s Best enzymatic toothpaste is an easy-to-use dental hygiene product that can be applied with a toothbrush or directly onto your pup’s finger. The company recommends using it two to three times a week, making it a convenient option for busy pet parents. If you’re looking for a quick way to freshen your dog’s breath, just dab a bit of this paste directly on their tongue.

This toothpaste includes ingredients such as baking soda often used in human toothpaste as a whitening agent), glycerin, aloe, neem oil, and grapefruit seed extract. The packaging is user-friendly, featuring a tube with a flip-top lid that’s easy to open and close. Despite the various ingredients, there’s no noticeable scent to this toothpaste. The consistency of this toothpaste is a comfortable balance between a gel and a paste, making application a breeze.

✔ Formulated by vets with a blend of natural ingredients ✖ Natural ingredients may make for a less palatable flavor
✔ Designed to fight tartar and plaque, whiten and brighten teeth, promote healthy gums, and freshen breath ✖ Thicker texture might make it difficult to brush your dog’s teeth effectively
✔ Easy-to-use squeeze tube

What our vet thinks

After seeing a few negative reviews regarding this product, Dr. Irish took a closer look at the ingredient list. Neem oil and aloe are both safe ingredients, however, she can’t say definitively that they’re effective at cleaning canine teeth. Not to mention that the idea of flavoring anything grape for dogs seems odd, since just a few grapes can be toxic.

Best for finger brushing: Vet Solutions

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

If you’re new to brushing your dog’s teeth, using your finger as a brush is a fantastic choice. The kit from Vet Solutions includes a finger brush that slips onto your finger easily and gives you lots of control as you clean your pup’s teeth and gums. This toothpaste comes in a smaller 0.75-ounce tube compared to some others we looked at, but remember, a little goes a long way. Vets suggest that a pea-sized amount is plenty.

The ingredients of this toothpaste are similar to others we’ve reviewed, with safe components like enzymes, poultry extract, water, cellulose gum, and vitamin E. Packaged in a cardboard box, the toothpaste tube has a convenient twist-off lid. The paste has a slight smell, probably from the poultry extract, but it doesn’t seem to bother most dogs.. Plus, its smooth, spreadable consistency makes it easy to apply on the teeth.

✔ Poultry-flavored, triple enzyme formula ✖ May require regular brushing to see results
✔ Combats harmful bacterial growth
✔ Kit includes finger brush

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish has first-hand experience with this toothpaste and speaks highly of the safety and effectiveness of its ingredients. She can confidently recommend this product to pet parents.

Best organic dog toothpaste: Radius

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

In today’s market, it can be tricky to know if products labeled as “natural” or “organic” really live up to those claims. But with Radius USDA organic dog toothpaste, pet owners can rest assured that it’s genuinely organic as it’s United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified. This gel paste is specially made to fight bacteria and naturally whiten teeth without any additives or chemicals. Many dog owners have noted that their furry friends enjoy the taste.

The toothpaste uses coconut oil and cinnamon to combat bacteria. It also contains sweet potato powder to make it taste good and Indian peppermint leaf oil for fresh breath. It comes in a travel-sized tube with a pop cap with a noticeable cinnamon smell and a hint of mint. Dogs seem to enjoy the unique blend of cinnamon and sweet potato flavors, although some pet parents have mentioned their pets are more used to poultry flavor, which this product lacks. As a gel toothpaste, only a pea-sized amount is needed for each use.

✔ Organic blend of sweet potato and coconut oil ✖ Contains stevia, which may not be suitable for your dogs
✔ Free from xylitol, chemicals, preservatives, dyes, pesticides, GMOs, gluten, saccharin, artificial additives, sweeteners, or flavors ✖ Not available in a variety of flavors
✔ Made in the USA

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish cautions against opting for all-natural or organic options that lack proven efficiency, adding that any toothpaste backed by clinical trials is best. Dog owners who are set on using organic should choose a USDA organic brand, like RADIUS.

Best dog dental care finger wipes: Vetradent

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Dechra Vetradent Dental Wipes for dogs are an effective tool in maintaining your pet’s oral hygiene. These wipes use Biotrate technology to break through the biofilm in your dog’s mouth, changing the environment to reduce bacteria. The wipes don’t have any taste or smell and can be applied to your dog’s teeth and gums. By reducing bacteria, you can help prevent tartar and plaque from forming, which is the main cause of bad breath. Many dog owners have noted that their pets tolerate the wipe-down well and the simplicity of using just a wipe and your finger makes brushing easier, so it gets done more often.

The active ingredients in these wipes include zinc chloride, which targets bad breath, and citric acid, which helps maintain the natural pH balance in your dog’s mouth. The wipes are packaged in a plastic tube with a pop cap opening, making it easy to pull out individual wipes. They are odorless, tasteless, and colorless, so dogs only need to get accustomed to having their teeth and gums wiped. The consistency of the wipes is slightly coarse, providing a gentle scrubbing action on your dog’s teeth and gums.

✔ Made with Biotrate technology, which is used to help control plaque and tartar build-up ✖ More expensive than other options
✔ Contains zinc chloride, which aids in reducing bad breath ✖ Some dogs may be allergic to certain ingredients
✔ Citric acid in the formula helps maintain the pH balance in the mouth

What our vet thinks

These get a thumbs up because they’ve been through at least two clinical trials to prove their effectiveness at preventing plaque and tartar formation. Dr. Irish recommends that dog owners always look for tested products with dependable claims.

Best dog dental flakes: Clenza-a-Dent

Why we recommend this dog toothpaste

Ceva Clenz-a-dent ProDen Plaque Off is a great dental care product for pets that is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). It’s super easy to use – just sprinkle the flakes over your dog’s wet or dry food. In a short time, with consistent use, you can start to see an improvement in your dog’s teeth. According to clinical trials, these improvements can be seen within three to eight weeks. But these flakes do more than just freshen breath, they also reduce tartar and plaque.

The dental powder is packaged in a plastic vitamin bottle with a safety twist top, making it easy to store and use. You don’t have to worry about any strong smells despite the seaweed flavor of the flakes. Most pets don’t seem to mind the flavor at all. Many reviewers report their pets eat their food just fine with this product sprinkled on top. The consistency of the flakes is light and powdery, which makes them easy to add to your dog’s food.

✔ Free from additives, preservatives, sugar, and gluten ✖ Usage may require frequent application to your dog’s food
✔ Noticeable results within three to eight weeks
✔ Highly rated by customers

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish recommends the Ceva brand specifically for its reputability. Any product that is VOHC approved means they’re doing something right!

How we picked our dog toothpaste recommendations

As pet parents, we all want to provide the best for our furry family members — and that includes regular dental care. With a multitude of pet dental products on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. 

When selecting a toothpaste for your dog, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • VOHC seal of approval. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) reviews and evaluates pet health items, including dental care products intended to combat plaque and tartar. Products with this seal have met VOHC’s rigorous standards, so it’s a good sign of quality and effectiveness.
  • Veterinarian approval. As Dr. Irish points out, the most effective kinds of toothpaste will be the ones that are veterinary-approved or have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval. These are backed by clinical trials and the opinions of medical professionals.
  • Safe ingredients. Avoid toothpastes that contain xylitol or fluoride  , which can be harmful to dogs if swallowed.
  • Appealing flavors. Since you’ll be asking your dog to tolerate brushing, flavors that they find appealing can make the process easier for both of you.

How to choose the perfect dog toothbrush

There are two main types of dog toothbrushes – handled brushes and finger brushes. Keep in mind that using a brush is always recommended, even when using a brushless paste. The act of brushing is what removes tartar buildup.

  • Finger brushes. These are small brushes that fit over your finger. The ability to come into direct contact with your pup’s teeth allows for greater control.
  • Long-handled brushes. Long-handled brushes come in a few varieties and can make it easier to reach your dog’s back teeth, especially if you have a large dog. Double-ended toothbrushes can help reach incisors and molars, and double-headed toothbrushes can clean both sides of your dog’s teeth at the same time.

We recommend trying different types of brushes to find what works best for you and your canine. The size and breed of your dog matters less than their personal preferences.

Keep in mind that you will need to reach the back of your dog’s jaw as you brush. You may want to opt for a soft-bristled doggie toothbrush that will give your dog an efficient and gentle tooth-brushing experience. Since human toothbrushes are shaped for our mouths, we don’t recommend using one on your dog.

Other dog dental products to try

You can give your dog dental chews in addition to daily brushing. Many options taste like a treat, so your pup will have no idea they’re eating something that’s cleaning the plaque off their teeth.

Dental water additives are liquids that can be added to your dog’s water to clean and freshen their mouth. These are not replacements for daily toothbrushing but help fight plaque and reduce tartar. Many dental water additives have ingredients like zinc chloride, citric acid, and sodium citrate that fight bad breath and prevent bacterial buildup.

Products to avoid

Never use human toothpaste on your dog — leave Arm & Hammer and Colgate to the humans. Fluoride is a common ingredient in human toothpaste that’s extremely dangerous for dogs.

Human options also often contain a harmful ingredient called xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s toxic to dogs. If consumed, your pet will need to be taken to the vet straight away for help. Xylitol can cause severe drops in blood sugar, which can result in seizures, lethargy, and liver failure.

Many popular toothpaste brands have been recommended by others out there. However, after reviewing, we decided not to include them on our list. Here’s why.

Frequently asked questions

Which toothpaste is best for dog teeth?

There are several high-quality dog toothpastes on the market, but two stand out due to their effectiveness and rave reviews from pet owners. Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste is known for its excellent cleaning abilities and breath-freshening qualities, and it comes in a variety of flavors that dogs love. Vetoquinol Enzadent Enzymatic Toothpaste is another top pick, earning high marks from users and being named Amazon’s choice for pet toothpaste.

What toothpaste is approved by veterinarians for dogs?

Veterinarians often recommend products that have been proven to be effective and safe for pets. Two such products are Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste and Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste. Both these toothpastes are known for their plaque-fighting abilities and are often recommended by professionals in the field.

What should I avoid in dog toothpaste?

When selecting a toothpaste for your dog, it’s important to avoid certain ingredients that can be harmful to your pet. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Also, human toothpaste often contains fluoride, which can be harmful if swallowed by dogs.

Do dogs need special toothpaste?

Yes, dogs do require special toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be harmful if ingested by dogs. Dog toothpaste is formulated to be safe for dogs to swallow and often comes in flavors that are appealing to them.

How do you get tartar off a dog’s teeth?

You’ll see the best results from regular brushing with a dog-friendly toothpaste. That’s key for removing tartar from your dog’s teeth. There are toothpastes specifically designed to remove tartar effectively. Additionally, professional cleanings by a veterinarian can help remove any stubborn tartar that brushing alone can’t handle.

Can I make dog toothpaste at home?

DIY dog toothpaste is an easy way and affordable to keep your pup’s teeth clean without any extra trips to the pet store. Just be sure to consult with your veterinarian about ingredient safety  before trying your hand at making homemade dog toothpaste.