You love your pup. But you’re not alone if you’re running away as he lunges toward your face. “Doggy breath” is unpleasant. Dog toothpaste can eliminate bad breath, but it can do more! By getting rid of harmful mouth bacteria and helping prevent plaque, toothpaste can actually help you keep your pup healthy. Like humans, dogs have bacteria in their mouths that can create gum problems in the future—choose a dog toothpaste that works to eliminate bacteria and prevent plaque buildup, and begin a regular brushing routine. If your dog isn’t used to having a toothbrush in his mouth, you may need to slowly train and get him comfortable with a finger brush—or even your finger—before getting used to a full brush session.

This has a mix of natural-based ingredients, including baking soda and aloe, to treat plaque buildup. Vet’s Best

A dog toothpaste is best used with a pet-specific toothbrush. Some toothpaste brands come with toothbrushes; it’s important to throw out toothbrushes when the brush shows sign of wear and tear. While you should aim to fully brush your pup’s teeth every other day, putting a tiny bit of paste on your dog’s tongue can help freshen his breath midday.

No Rinse Required

This non-foaming gel is available in one or two packs. The brush is sold separately. Petrodex

Chicken-flavored toothpaste sounds gag-inducing for humans, but pets love it. Look for dog-friendly flavorings. You may also need to have your pet sample a few flavors until you find one they love. And read the instructions for maximum effectiveness. Most dog toothpastes don’t require you to rinse their mouths, but some may suggest you follow up a brushing session with a drink of water.

Also Consider

This beef-flavored cleaning solution will leave a minty scent. Arm & Hammer

Many brands tout “enzymatic” formulas. This simply means that enzymes in the ingredients work together to break down tartar and plaque. The best toothpaste for your pup is one that you regularly use, so find a brand your pup enjoys. It can be helpful to have a soothing tooth-brushing ritual, like having your pup lie in your lap as someone else strokes his coat. Ask your vet for any specific pointers or problem areas to focus on, and make sure that your vet regularly performs dental exams at check-ups.