top of page

Pearly Pup Smiles: A Guide to Cleaning Your Puppy's Teeth

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Welcome to Pearly Pup Smiles: A Guide to Cleaning Your Puppy's Teeth, your go-to guide for why we need our puppy's to have sparkling dental health! Authored by Peter Bonney, Director of Bonnie's Dog Obedience and Puppy School, this dog blog aims to provide valuable insights and expert tips on how to effectively clean your new puppies teeth. Join us on this journey to discover the best practices, dos and don'ts, and relaxation techniques that will not only keep your puppy's teeth gleaming but also create a positive and enjoyable dental care experience for your precious canine. Visit for more information and embark on the path to a lifetime of pearly white smiles for your furry friend!

Cleaning your puppies teeth - When -Why - How?:

Our puppies should have clean teeth
Clean Teeth - Good Breath - Happy puppy

  • Cleaning your puppy's teeth is an essential aspect of their overall health and well-being. Just like humans, dogs can develop dental issues without proper dental care. Regular teeth cleaning helps prevent plaque buildup, tartar formation, and gum disease, ensuring your best friend maintains a healthy and happy smile. With 'Val Bonneys' dog , Merlin, he has always had a penchant for burying his bones and pigs ears. Then he would go back and dig them up. This was ok but wasn't great for his teeth.

  • What about giving my dog bones or other items to chew on? It's true that giving your dog bones or other chew items can be beneficial for their dental health. Chewing helps to remove plaque and tartar buildup, promoting better oral hygiene. However, it's essential to provide safe and appropriate chew items for your dog. Avoid cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause serious injuries to your dog's mouth or digestive system. Instead, opt for raw bones or specially designed dental chews that are suitable for your dog's size and breed. Occasionally give your puppy a chicken neck or brisket bone as these are softer and better on the teeth and gums.

  • I have heard that dogs don't get bad teeth in the wild. If that's so, then why should I worry about cleaning my dogs teeth? Regarding the notion that dogs in the wild don't get bad teeth, it's essential to recognise that domestic dogs have different dietary habits and living conditions compared to their wild counterparts. Wild canines often consume a more natural, raw diet, which helps keep their teeth cleaner. On the other hand, domestic dogs often eat commercial pet foods that may not provide the same dental benefits. Additionally, wild canines may not live as long as domestic dogs, and dental issues might not become as noticeable during their shorter lifespan.

Yes puppies should get their teeth cleaned
Finger brush - be soft and massage their gum at the same time

  • Cleaning your dog's teeth is still essential because domestication has brought about changes in dogs' overall health and longevity. Regular teeth cleaning, along with appropriate chew items, helps prevent dental issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. By maintaining good oral hygiene, you can improve your dog's quality of life, prevent potential pain or discomfort, and ensure their overall well-being as a cherished member of your family.

  • To clean your puppy's teeth, you should use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste, as it may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Dog toothbrushes are designed to reach the nooks and crannies of their mouth comfortably, and the toothpaste comes in flavors like poultry or beef that are appealing to dogs. Not fantastic for humans but that's why we use specific tools and ingredients which are right for the puppy

  • Before diving into the teeth-cleaning process, we highly recommend taking a moment to massage your dog's gums and jaw gently. This simple act of massaging can quickly put your puppy into a relaxed state of mind. It's important to remember that their gums are tender, their teeth are growing, and their muzzle and head are undergoing changes, which can be overwhelming for them. By offering this soothing gesture, you can help your furry friend feel more at ease during the dental care routine. We practice this technique from 8 weeks of age - weeks before you need to start cleaning their teeth. It is great for handler and puppy to relax and become comfortable - familiarised with the process. The next step when they become comfortable with you in their mouth massaging their gums etc is to start the cleaning process.

  • Start the teeth-cleaning process very gradually to familiarise your puppy with it. Begin by holding the toothbrush in your hand or 'on your finger' while interacting with your puppy. Even during simple actions like patting, show and tell them about the toothbrush on your finger (as in the image), allowing the puppy to get used to its presence - yes, let them smell or scent it too. Over a few days, the puppy will accept it as normal and manageable. Take your time and be patient. Familiarise, introduce, and associate - that's the key to success.

  • In the initial sessions, avoid attempting to clean your puppy's teeth at all. Instead, let them taste the toothpaste from your finger or toothbrush and slowly introduce the toothbrush to their mouth. Apply very gentle pressure on their gums as they may be sensitive during the first few months of life. Gradually, when they become comfortable with the process, use soft, circular motions to brush their teeth, focusing on both the front and back teeth. Aim for at least two teeth-cleaning sessions per week to ensure excellent oral hygiene for your puppy's overall health. A session may be as short as 1 minute or less when you first start. Don't allow the puppy to get stressed at all when you teaching them anything new.

Clean teeth - good breath - happy and relaxed puppy
Look at ME - I am a happy puppy

  • Regular teeth cleaning not only prevents dental issues but also contributes to your puppy's overall health. By making this a part of their grooming routine from a young age, you set them up for a lifetime of healthy dental care habits. Always remember to be patient and gentle during the process, ensuring that your puppy associates teeth cleaning with positive experiences and trust in you as their caregiver.


  1. Start early: Introduce teeth cleaning to your puppy as soon as possible, ideally during their early weeks. This helps them get accustomed to the process early on.

  2. Use appropriate tools: Invest in a soft-bristled, puppy-specific toothbrush or a finger brush that is gentle on their gums. You can also use a soft, damp cloth wrapped around your finger as an alternative.

  3. Use puppy toothpaste: Never use human toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Instead, use toothpaste specially formulated for puppies, with flavors they enjoy.

  4. Be gentle: Use gentle, circular motions to clean your puppy's teeth and gums. Avoid applying excessive pressure, as their gums are sensitive.

  5. Be patient: Your puppy might be initially resistant or curious. Take your time and be patient throughout the process.

  6. Praise and reward: Offer plenty of praise, cuddles, and treats after each successful teeth-cleaning session to reinforce positive associations.

  7. Be consistent: Establish a regular teeth-cleaning schedule to make it a familiar routine for your puppy.


  1. Don't use force: Never force your puppy into teeth cleaning. This can create fear and anxiety around dental care.

  2. Don't use human toothpaste: Human toothpaste contains ingredients like fluoride, which is toxic to dogs when ingested.

  3. Don't scold or punish: If your puppy resists or plays during the process, avoid scolding or punishing them. Stay patient and keep a positive attitude. Often we pick the wrong time to try. Never try and do this when your puppy is already excited. Wait for them to become calmer and then have a go.

  4. Don't overdo it: Keep teeth-cleaning sessions short, especially in the beginning. Gradually increase the time as your puppy becomes more comfortable.

  5. Don't skip veterinary check-ups: Regular dental check-ups with the veterinarian are crucial for maintaining your puppy's oral health. This is a significant advantage for your groomer and Vet. When a puppy has this level of attention and calmness when they are young they will never be afraid of being touched.

Tips to help your puppy relax:

  1. Massage their gums: Before introducing a toothbrush, gently massage your puppy's gums with your finger. This helps them get used to the sensation and reduces discomfort.

  2. Use positive and restrained reinforcement: Reward your puppy with treats and or calming praise, when they cooperate during the teeth-cleaning process. Speaking quietly, gentle pats, a big smile and a relaxed attitude will give you 100% more chance of success. There is a time to be really excited when your dog is brilliant and doing the right thing - this is not one of those cases.

  3. Make it a positive experience: Choose a quiet and comfortable area for teeth cleaning, free from distractions or noise.

  4. Associate with relaxation: Associate teeth cleaning with relaxation time. After play or exercise, when your puppy is tired, is often a good time for teeth cleaning.

  5. Gradual introduction: If your puppy is nervous, start by allowing them to sniff and investigate the toothbrush without attempting to clean their teeth. This helps them become familiar with the object first.

  6. Be calm and composed: Your puppy can sense your energy. Stay calm and composed during the process to help them relax.

Remember, building a positive association with teeth cleaning is essential for your puppy's long-term oral health. By following these do's and don'ts and implementing relaxation techniques, you can make teeth cleaning a stress-free and enjoyable experience for you all.

Explore a plethora of other captivating articles centered around puppies that are sure to pique your interest! As a fellow dog lover, don't hesitate to share these delightful reads with your friends and fellow enthusiasts. We're always open to hearing your suggestions for future articles; simply let us know in the comment section. Wishing you a fantastic day ahead! For those seeking Val Bonney's Books, you can find them at this link:

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page