Developing a toothbrushing routine with your dog will help to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, freshen their breath, and prevent periodontal disease—the most commonly diagnosed health problem in dogs.
“Having healthy teeth and gums is one of the most important ways to help your dog avoid hidden infection and pain," veterinarian Sarah Machell, DVM and lead veterinarian with Vetster, told The Spruce Pets.
Unfortunately, brushing your dog's teeth can be a tricky pet hygiene task, even with the best toothbrush. We purchased 18 popular and bestselling dog toothpastes, sending each one to a home with a real dog for testing. Our testers documented their experience brushing their dog's teeth with each product, noting how their dogs responded to flavors, reductions in plaque, and whether their dogs' breath improved.
After four weeks of testing our favorite is Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste, which has clinical data backing its effectiveness and comes in irresistible flavors.
Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste
The only toothpaste approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
Reduces tartar and plaque buildup
Can be used without a toothbrush
Can also be used with cats
Vegan and cruelty-free
More expensive than most dog toothpastes
Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste cleans teeth, freshens breath, and is available in three dog-appealing flavors: London Broil, Rotisserie Chicken, and Say Cheese. While dog flavors may not sound too appealing to humans, Petsmile is odorless, thankfully.
The mouth-cleaning paste is made with Calprox, which is Petsmile's proprietary combination of calcium peroxide and minerals. Upon application to a canine's chompers (or a cat's kisser), the formula dissolves the film where unwanted gunk, such as plaque and bacteria, tends to linger in a dog's mouth. The toothpaste contains no animal proteins and is completely free of sulfites, parabens, gluten, BPA, and silica.
Our testing dog used PetSmile Professional Pet Toothpaste weekly for a month, and our volunteer noted noticeably whiter teeth, less buildup along their gum line, and fresher breath.
Petsmile is the only dog toothpaste approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which sets standards and reviews data to highlight pet products that are proven to reduce plaque and tartar. VOHC products have been shown to decrease plaque and tartar buildup by 20 percent, thus reducing the likelihood of periodontal and other mouth diseases.
With its high-quality and non-allergenic ingredients, human-grade strength, appealing meaty flavor and professional co-sign, there’s no other toothpaste whose effectiveness has been proven like Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste. While not as effective as brushing, Petsmile even works without a toothbrush: apply the paste directly to your dog's teeth and let their flavor-chasing tongue do a little mild scrubbing.
Price at time of publish: $25
Ingredients: Calprox, deionized water, glycerin, citric acid, dicalcium phosphate dihydrate, cellulose gum, urea peroxide, carbopol 934P, potassium hydroxide, flavor, sodium benzoate, phosphoric acid, and cetylpyridinium chloride︱Size: 2.5, 4.2, 4.5 ounces︱Flavors: London broil, rotisserie chicken, say cheese
Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste
Five flavors to choose from: Poultry, Vanilla Mint, Beef, Malt, and Seafood
Noticeably improved appearance of dog's teeth and gums during testing
Sticky consistency of the paste is easy to apply to dog's teeth
Can also be used with cats
We found it difficult to prevent excess toothpaste from coming out of the tube
C.E.T. is the dental care product line from Virbac that includes dental chews, and dog toothbrushes, and it stands for customizable care, easy to use, and trusted by veterinarians.
This enzymatic dog toothpaste from Virbac is offered in five flavors—Poultry, Malt, Vanilla Mint, Beef, and Seafood. We tested with the Poultry flavor and were please to find that it had no detectable scent. All flavors are tan-colored paste, but it will not stain fur or surfaces once the product dissipates. When our tube of Virbac was brand new we found it difficult to keep extra paste from coming out, so be careful when squeezing.
The formula for Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste uses a dual enzyme approach to target buildup and bacteria in a dog's mouth. Enzymes are proteins that stimulate chemical reactions when they interact with organic matter, breaking down common stink and plaque-causing compounds. For best results, enzymatic dog toothpaste requires a toothbrush or finger brush for application, which help to stimulate the enzymatic activity that attacks plaque and tartar. With its lack of foaming agents and fluoride, it is an exceptionally safe product, meaning your dog can eat it without getting sick.
“It has the added benefit of ongoing action after the brushing has been completed,” Dr. Machell said.
Price at time of publish: $11
Ingredients: Sorbitol, dicalcium phosphate anhydrous, purified water, hydrated silica, glycerin, dextrose, xanthan gum, vanillin, titanium dioxide, sodium benzoate, methyl salicylate, potassium thiocyanate, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase︱Size: 2.5 oz︱Flavors: Poultry, beef, malt, seafood, and vanilla mint
Paws & Pals Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste Brushing Kit
Includes fingertip toothbrush, dual-headed toothbrush, and two tubes of enzymatic toothpaste
Neutralizes dog breath odor
Brightens teeth with regular use
Only comes in beef flavor
With two tubes of beef-flavored toothpaste and three brush styles to try, the Paws & Pals Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste Kit will help you develop and stick with a routine for brushing your dog's teeth regularly,
The consistency of the enzymatic toothpaste is thick so it stays on all of the brushes provided without issue. The toothpaste is safe for dogs to consume but you should limit their intake to the portion used for brushing. Our participating dog really enjoyed the flavor and tolerated the dual-sided brush long enough for application to their teeth, gums, and tongue. Regular use has helped to neutralize the unpleasant odor in their breath.
A benefit of this kit is having different application tools to try. A fingertip brush is a reliable method for getting toothpaste into a dog's mouth (we recommend using the pointer finger on your less dominant hand), while a toothbrush can be more beneficial for scrubbing buildup from your dog's teeth. The kit includes a dual-headed toothbrush with two head sizes at opposite ends, one standard and one small. Both are made with soft bristles to be gentle on gums.
Price at time of publish: $20 for 2-pack
Ingredients: Water, sodium benzoate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium saccharin, sorbitol, sodium lauryl sulfate, cellulose gum, titanium dioxide, hydrated silica, aroma, calcium carbonate, glucose oxidase︱Size: 7 ounces︱Flavor: Beef
Nutri-Vet Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs
Noticeably brightens teeth and neutralized breath
Chicken flavor and scent were highly appealing to our participating dog
Enzymatic formula quickly eliminates buildup on teeth
Not recommended for dogs with a poultry allergy
Nutri-Vet Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs is an effective dog toothpaste at an approachable price with a chicken flavor our dog tester seems to really enjoy. If your dog also loves chicken then brushing their teeth will be easier with this toothpaste. Our volunteer perks up at the sight of the meat-flavored tube, and with toothbrushing sessions once or twice a week, there has been a noticeable reduction of buildup on their teeth and their foul breath has been neutralized.
The thick paste formula contains enzymes that get to work immediately upon application to a dog's teeth and gums. The product is positioned as non-foaming but we felt that it produced a small amount of foam. It's only available with a chicken flavor, so we do not recommend this toothpaste for dogs who experience adverse reactions to poultry.
Price at time of publish: $4
Ingredients: Purified water, sorbitol, glycerin, hydrated silica, dicalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, artificial flavor, sodium saccharin, sodium benzoate, glucose oxidase︱Size: 2.5 ounces︱Flavor: Chicken
Best with Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Dental Fresh Breath Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
Baking soda and enzymes work together to freshen breath and reduce buildup on teeth
Available in a variety of flavors
Subtle minty scent
Toothbrush is not included but recommended
Arm & Hammer Dental Fresh Breath Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste offers a combination of enzymes to break down buildup along with baking soda to whiten teeth and deodorize. The paste is available in multiple flavors, such as Chicken and Vanilla-Ginger. The first ingredient is sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that is safe for dogs to consume, and it is not the same as xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic for dogs but often found in toothpaste for humans.
Using a dog toothbrush or a finger brush to activate ingredients, this paste effectively kills bacteria and neutralizes odor. The paste itself has a subtle minty scent and the consistency is similar to baking soda toothpaste made for humans.
Price at time of publish: $9
Active Ingredients: Sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, polysorbate 20, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, cellulose gum, sodium chloride, perlite, flavor, sodium bicarbonate, zinc gluconate, calcium carbonate, tocopheryl acetate, proteases, thymol, glucose oxidase, chlorophylin, blue 1︱Size: 2.5 oz︱Flavors: Chicken, vanilla-ginger, beef
Oxyfresh Dental Gel Premium Dog Toothpaste
Can be applied with or without a dog toothbrush
We found no detectable scent from this toothpaste
Easy to use gel
Effectively cleaned our dog's mouth
Safe for use with cats
Lack of flavor might not entice your dog
The Oxyfresh Dental Gel Premium Dog Toothpaste is an effective flavorless toothpaste that made a noticeable improvement in our dog's teeth and breath.
This neutral toothpaste is without a flavor additive. Many toothpaste products for dogs rely on artificial flavoring to entice a canine, but along with the meaty or cheesy flavoring often comes an aroma that many humans do not find appealing. This gel toothpaste has no detectable scent and can be applied to your dog's mouth using a pet toothbrush or your finger. You can also try putting the paste directly on your dog's paw to let them lick it off, but that might lead to gel paw prints on non-teeth surfaces in your home. The toothpaste is made in the United States with minimal ingredients and is also safe for use with cats.
Price at time of publish: $11
Ingredients: Water, chondrus crispus, sodium chlorite, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, chamomilla recutita extract, glycerin, methylparaben, propylparaben︱Size: 4 ounces︱Flavor: Flavorless
Best For Bad Breath
Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
Can be applied directly to tongue to freshen breath
Contains soothing and anti-inflammatory properties from aloe and neem oil
Combines multiple active ingredients, including grapefruit seed extract, baking soda, and enzymes
While dogs liked the flavor, we're not sure what "Natural" is
The formula for Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste is made with aloe and neem oil to soothe irritated and inflamed gums along with grapefruit seed extra, baking soda, and enzymes to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria. In between cleaning sessions with a toothbrush or finger brush, the clear gel toothpaste can be applied to a dog's tongue to neutralize odor-causing buildup in their mouth.
The flavor, described as natural by the manufacturer, was enjoyed by our participating canine tester, and the slight aloe-like scent is mild. This toothpaste may also be suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs, but you should consult with your veterinarian if that is a concern.
Price at time of publish: $8
Ingredients: Glycerin, aloe, pectin, neem oil, grapefruit seed extract, sodium bicarbonate, glucose oxidase, natural flavors︱Size: 3.5 ounces︱Flavor: Natural flavor
Best for Puppies
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Toothpaste
Two flavors to choose from, Original or Peanut Butter
Safe for use by dogs of all ages
Our dog like the flavor, even if we're not sure what "Original" tastes like
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Toothpaste is made with a proprietary blend of ingredients that the manufacturer calls Denta-C to help remove tartar and plaque from a dog's teeth. The paste is safe for dogs to consume and can be used to clean the teeth of dogs at any age, with a smaller dosage for younger pups.
“One of the keys to brushing your dog’s teeth is to start early when they are young to establish a daily routine and ensure positive rewards during the process, then building on these good habits right from the start,” Dr. Machell said.
During our testing, the Original flavor was enjoyed by our participating dog. We are unable to determine the flavor profile of Original, but it does not have a strong scent. The toothpaste also comes in a Peanut Butter flavor.
It's also available in a useful kit.
Price at time of publish: $9
Active Ingredients: Sorbitol, water, silica, glycerin, cellulose gum, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium copper chlorophyllin, sodium hexametaphosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, flavor, titanium dioxide, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and magnesium aluminum silicate︱Size: 2.5 ounces︱Flavors: Original, peanut butter
Best Dental Wipes
Vet's Best Dental Care Finger Wipes for Cats & Dogs
No toothbrush needed
Fits over most fingers
Uses natural ingredients
For full effectiveness, your dog shouldn't drink or eat for 30 minutes after use
If your dog can't handle a toothbrush, they may trust your touch a little more. Vet's Best Dental Care Finger Wipes for Cats & Dogs fit over your finger. To use, you rub the wipe in a tight, circular motions over your dog's teeth. The wipes are soaked with a combination of grapefruit seed extract, green tea extract, spearmint oil, and thyme oil designed to freshen breath and help clear plague. The lightly textured wipes provide a little scrubbing power too.
Each box of Vet's Best comes with 50 finger wipes, which can last six months if you brush your dog's teeth twice a week.
Price at time of publish: $13
Active Ingredients: Purified water, denatured alcohol, glycerin, emulsifier, preservative, green tea extract, grapefruit seed extract, spearmint oil, deodorizer, thyme oil, sucralose, citric acid︱Size: 50 disposable wipes︱Flavors: N/A
Our pick for the best overall dog toothpaste is Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste. It effectively reduces buildup and freshens breath with or without the use of a dog toothbrush. It also has the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. If you prefer an enzymatic dog toothpaste, Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste is available in five flavors and noticeably improved the appearance of our dog's teeth and gums during testing.
What to Look for in a Dog Toothpaste
A dog toothbrush can help you reach more areas in your dog's mouth, but a finger brush is easier to use. For enzymatic dog toothpaste, scrubbing with a toothbrush is critical for igniting the chemical reaction that reduces plaque and tartar.
Target the front teeth first and gradually move to the back, before checking over their entire mouth. Move the toothbrush or finger brush in a circle or up and down and focus on the crowns of the molars and the external facing side of the teeth to eliminate tartar.
"The most significant amount of dental plaque and tartar develops on the surface of the tooth that rests against the inside of the cheek, so concentrate your efforts there,” Dr. Machell said. “Brushing should start at the gumline working gently towards the tip of the tooth."
Some toothpastes also work—albeit less effectively—by applying directly to your dog's teeth, without brushing. But even if that might work temporarily, there is no replacement for brushing. Our favorite toothbrush is the Woobamboo Dog & Cat Toothbrush, which is affordable, recyclable, available in two different sizes, and easy to use.
Regular at-home brushing can help your dog avoid gingivitis which can lead to periodontal disease. It can also help to reduce your dog's need for professional dental cleanings which require anesthesia and can be expensive.
“So many dogs are motivated by food, so choosing a flavor that your dog loves can enhance the positive reward your dog experiences in the process,” veterinarian Sarah Machell, DVM told The Spruce Pets.
For example, if your dog enjoys meaty treats over seafood flavors, then introducing a beef-flavored toothpaste could make it easier to clean your dog's teeth. You may worry that a scent that will appeal to your dog might be stinky for human noses, but all of the dog toothpastes we tested had only slight to non-detectable scents.
Dog Breath vs Bad Breath
Dog breath is a normal part of being a dog, and regular cleaning is meant to neutralize bacteria-causing odor. However, if you notice a change or a very foul odor emitting from your dog's mouth, you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Bad breath could be an indicator of a more serious health issue, like periodontal disease, which affects over 80 percent of dogs have some form of by the age of 2.
How We Tested
We researched and selected 17 dog toothpaste products for real-world testing with real dogs. For a four-week period, our participants followed our methodology to carefully observe and record how their dog responded to the toothpaste.
We asked that each tester brush their dog's teeth for a minimum of seven sessions, but encouraged all testers to brush their dog's teeth every day or every other day.
Testers took photos and recorded any changes in the appearance of their dog's teeth, including color, texture, and plaque lining along with the smell of their dog's breath. They then provided their feedback within the following categories: ease of use, flavor, and scent.
After the testing window closed, we compiled our testers notes and averaged their ratings across multiple categories. Of 17 products tested, 11 earned high enough scores to be worth recommending. After additional research and consultation with experts, we can confidently recommend nine different products.
Can I use human toothpaste on my dog?
No, you should never use human toothpaste on a dog.
“There are many components of human toothpaste that can be irritating and cause stomach upset if consumed," Dr. Machell told The Spruce Pets. "Our pets aren't good at following the directions 'rinse and spit.'"
The pH in a dog’s mouth differs greatly from a human’s mouth, and the majority of toothpaste products made for people contain Xylitol, a sweetener that is highly toxic for dogs. Xylitol can cause blood sugar to drop in dogs which which can lead to liver damage.
Does dog toothpaste expire?
Yes, the ingredients in dog toothpaste become less effective over time, and like most consumable products, dog toothpaste does expire. The packaging should indicate the manufacturer's suggested use-by date or expiration date of the dog toothpaste. Using the product past the expiration date will most likely deliver less desirable results.
Can dogs eat dog toothpaste?
Dog toothpaste products are designed to be safe for consumption. While it may appear like human toothpaste, dogs do not follow the same rinse and spit routine. In fact, a dog's tongue can be a very beneficial tool for spreading toothpaste throughout the mouth.
Is dog toothpaste safe?
Yes, dog toothpaste is safe. It should be used properly by following the instructions for the specific toothpaste of your choice. Generally, a small amount, roughly pea-sized, is sufficient for each cleaning session.
Never let your dog have the entire tube in one sitting and do not leave them unsupervised with the product. If your dog consumes too much dog toothpaste, it will most likely lead to an upset stomach, but you should consult with your veterinarian immediately to rule out any other potential issues.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This roundup was updated by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a happy pomeranian named Gidget. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Mejorada embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.
Previous versions were written by Winston Cook- Wilson, a writer and editor based in New York City, and Anne Fritz, who has worked in the publishing industry for over 20 years.