DIY Doggy Dental Care

In honor of this month’s theme of pet dental hygiene awareness, we’re going to break the Wordless-ness of Wednesday and “say AH!” to give you a glimpse into the ever-evolving and ever-improving routines that Gilligan observes that contribute to a healthy set of teeth for him.

Some of this will repeat information we shared in our post entitled simply, “Dental Hygiene” from several months ago. We’ll summarize the information from that post before going into some new info about how we’ve built upon the foundation of care techniques that was established then.

About Dog Dental Hygiene in General

Cleanings at the vet can be expensive, sometimes even more than a human dental cleaning (I know, right? Ridiculous!). On top of that, dachshunds do tend to be at risk for periodontitis and other gum and tooth infections that can, over time, jeopardize your pup’s teeth, put him or her in serious mouth pain, and make your dog-breath situation go from bad to much, much worse.

So it is important to maintain routine upkeep and brush those lovely doxie chompers regularly. Especially if you let them go, in addition to the above long-term risks, they can begin to build plaque and make for a more intense job for your doggy dentist down the road.

Unfortunately, Gilly hates your conventional human toothbrush.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.33.20 PM

With it being such a challenge to keep Gilligan still during brushing, a more sustainable approach was needed that Gilligan would be willing to sit through time and again.

So, we decided to explore the Pro Dental Dog Finger Toothbrush. Those puppies (pun intended) are roughly $2 per Finger.

Next, throw in your toothpaste. About $14 including shipping for a CET Vanilla Mint toothpaste tube (70 mg), which has made Gilly’s teeth cleaner and his breath just as lovely as the thought behind the kisses.


Long story short, it’s “mission accomplished:” our favorite sausage dog really took to the finger brush MUCH better than to the handheld toothbrush; he just can’t get enough of the vanilla mint toothpaste; and now his breath is actually pretty enjoyable, even when he goes to bury his tongue halfway down your nose!

Below is the video we shared previously, showing the progression from the unsuccessful standard brush, to the roaring success of the finger brush coupled with delicious vanilla mint toothpaste, which Gilligan loves.

New Information*

Since the time of the first post on dental hygiene, we’ve learned a couple of things about Gilligan’s teeth, dental care needs and options from when we visited our local vet. The following are “Before” photos that we took of Gilligan’s canines prior to beginning his brushing routine with the CET toothpaste and Pro Dental Finger Brush.



You’ll notice not only that his teeth are stained and yellow, but that they contain plaque build-up in various areas around the edges and closer to the gums.

What we learned from our vet (we brought Gilligan in AFTER we established our routine of brushing with CET and Pro Dental):

  1. The biggest risks to a dog’s overall dental health are actually those associated with gum disease. Despite some plaque build-up, Gilligan received a good bill of overall dental health due to the fact that his gums look healthy. Once you start noticing patches of deep red or black on your dog’s gums, this may indicate the beginning of a gum infection, which is really what you want to avoid as it could lead to complications throughout the mouth.
  2. As stupid as this sounds, for all of his humans’ care in establishing a good routine for Gilligan before, they failed to detect a decent amount of his teeth, namely those in the back/molar area of the mouth. Because Gilly has a tendency to clench his mouth muscles up during dental treatment, they have since discovered (with the vet’s help) that it’s necessary to pull the lips back at the corner in order to access these. When the vet first unearthed these teeth, they were stained as well, however as you can see in the below most recent photo, this was easy to clear up with routine brushing and these teeth are now very healthy.SONY DSC
  3. Now for the biggest item: the cost of a professional dental cleaning at Gilligan’s vet was quoted as running about $500. That’s right. What our vet shared with us was that, while regular brushing helps to prevent the build-up of new plaque and generally maintain the health of the teeth and gums, it will NOT remove plaque that has already built up. What the vets will do during this cleaning, in general terms, is to use more powerful dental equipment to scrape the existing plaque off of the dog’s teeth (much like your human dentist does during a professional cleaning with you), AND (and this is the part that makes it expensive:) they will anesthetize the dog so that he will refrain from squirming around during the procedure and risking injury to himself.
New Techniques*

With $500 being a lot of money, Gilligan’s humans decided to take on some of this dental work at home.*

*Disclaimer (WE CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH): Please think long and hard about any decision to perform any dental cleaning on your dog that involves the use of sharp cleaning tools. We DO NOT recommend trying this at home as a replacement for a thorough procedure at your vet. Please consider all of the risks involved, some of which we will discuss below.

Today’s dental care involved the introduction of a dental pick, taken from an unopened $2 dental care pack. Below is the full kit used for today’s cleaning. *For Gilligan, the pick is only being used for his prominent (2) front canine teeth, as these are where the majority of plaque build-up exists, and they are exposed enough to where the pick is not inserted anyplace where it might get caught on or puncture other areas of the mouth.


Note the protective plastic sleeve over the tip of the pick. This should NOT be discarded; rather, it should be replaced back over the pick once cleaning is finished in order to protect the edge from wearing and bacteria. *The primary reason this sleeve exists is because THIS IS A SHARP INSTRUMENT; it is sharp and hard enough to scrape plaque off of the teeth of humans and dogs alike. Be VERY careful if you are using this. If you do decide to try this at home, hold the instrument as close to the tip as you can with gloved fingers; if your dog is squirming and will not hold still, or is sneezing excessively, avoid any sudden movements and consider stopping immediately.


Before scraping any plaque, our dentist gets Gilligan feeling good with a preliminary brush using the delicious CET Vanilla Mint toothpaste. This will also make the left-over plaque on Gilligan’s teeth easy to identify. Latex gloves are now a staple of the routine, as the brushing usually involves getting the finger further back inside the mouth to get at those hidden back molars we mentioned.


When re-using the same finger brush, it is very important to thoroughly rinse it both before and after use to avoid the build-up and transmission of unwanted bacteria.


Gilligan was clearly not a huge fan of the pick step, but overall he was good about holding still long enough to make the cleaning of his two canines safe. He did sneeze once, but our dentist’s careful grip prevented any danger of injury from the pick.

The Results

Our “After” photos here show that our dentist was able to remove some of the plaque very effectively. The process was cut short as soon as Gilligan started demonstrating impatience and moving around too much, so you will notice that some small bits of plaque remain.

Overall, this was a good way to remove some of the major plaque on Gilligan’s teeth, but before we go, we’ll once again emphasize that this was only tried on his two canines, and we would caution you once again to seriously weigh the risks before attempting this or any level of home dentistry with your pet that involves the use of any sharp, potentially dangerous tool.



Now you can Follow, Like and Share the joy of Gilligan with friends on InstagramTwitterFacebook, WordPress, and YouTube. Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

Disclosure: Links in this article that lead to dog finger toothbrush and toothpaste products will bring the reader to that product’s page on The links themselves are generated using the Amazon Affiliate program, which means that the author of this site will earn a small sales commission on any purchases of the products through these links. Descriptions of products within posts and official reviews on are always the honest opinion of the author.

This is a Blog Hop! A big thanks, as always, to BlogPaws for hosting Wordless Wednesday!


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32 thoughts on “DIY Doggy Dental Care

  1. Yeah, great job on the post, pictures and explaining. I do as I say not as I do too, I scrape my dogs teeth at home (I’m a vet tech) I also use a dental “pliers” to crack the tarter off. The vets don’t want you to do this at home in fear of causing a problem, hurting the dog, gum, tooth and if you use hard instruments and scrape the teeth you really need to follow up with polishing cause you are causing grooves in the teeth that are traps for tarter to build up faster. Good job his teeth look great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, note another comment on the post about how taking it on yourself can also cause grooves in the dog’s teeth. If Ike’s got existing damage I would be really cautious and considerate about what options you explore for his dental care.


  2. WOW! WOW! WOW!! This is one incredible post!!! I just shared on Twitter! I am supposed to have my first dental either at the end of this month, or early next month. Your teeth look amazing! Oh and I LOVE your name! Barks and licks and love, Dakota PS:Mom and I signed up to follow your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brushing Gilligan’s teeth – great! That is the best way to take care of your pet’s teeth at home. Scraping his teeth with a sharp instrument when he is not under anesthesia? Not recommended. If you would like some safe and effective ideas for home dental care, check out my post Ten Simple Ways To Keep Your Pet Healthy – Tip #3: Take Care of Your Pet’s Teeth and Oral Health. Here is the link:

    Liked by 1 person

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