Chihuahua Dental Care and Oral Hygiene 101

Chihuahuas are known for having relatively few health problems compared to other dog breeds. Like most small dogs, though, Chihuahuas tend to have oral problems that can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and even stroke. One of the reasons for this is simply due to their small mouths, which generally force teeth to become impacted as they grow in. While some Chihuahuas may live long and happy lives without experiencing dental problems, most will have at least some oral issues arise. Thankfully, however, there are certain things we can do as owners to help maintain good oral health for our Chihuahuas.

Chihuahuas With Toothbrush

Chihuahuas With Toothbrush

To put things into perspective on just how serious Chihuahua oral problems are, studies have shown that roughly 3/4 of Chihuahuas will develop at least one form of gum disease by the age of 4. It may only cause bad breath at first, but all types of gum disease are progressive; therefore, it's only going to get worse unless you take action to stop it. Chihuahuas haven't developed the ability to brush their own teeth yet, so it's up to you to do it for them.

How To Brush Your Chihuahua's Teeth

Brushing your Chihuahua's teeth is arguably the single most important thing you can do for their oral health. When food particles and residue gets stuck on their teeth, it turns to tarter. Small amounts of tarter here and there isn't going to cause any serious problems, but over time it can and will lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, tooth loss and other forms of gum disease. You can think of a toothbrush as your weapon in the fight against tarter and tooth decay.

Some owners may simply try to brush their Chihuahua's teeth with an old toothbrush and regular toothpaste, but this isn't recommended. Chihuahuas, like most dogs, will probably try to eat anything you put in their mouth. Regular toothpaste that we use in our mouths contains fluoride, which can be harmful if swallowed. Even small amounts of fluoride can make a Chihuahua sick to their stomach. So, how are you supposed to brush your Chihuahua's teeth? There are actually toothbrushes and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. The toothbrushes come in a wide range of sizes designed to fit all breeds of dogs. Some of them are even sleeve-like pieces that fit over your finger with stubbles on one side. Canine toothpaste is made with delicate ingredients that are completely safe for small dogs. In addition, they come in a variety of flavors so your Chihuahua will likely enjoy getting their teeth brushes. You can find canine toothpaste available in beef, chicken, salmon and malt flavors.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Once you've acquired a canine toothbrush and toothpaste, refer to the following steps to brush their teeth:

  • Step One -  Sit down comfortably in a chair and place with your Chihuahua comfortably in your lap. Some Chihuahuas may be nervous and anxious when you try to brush their teeth, especially the first few times. To make things easier, you should continue to talk, praise and pet your Chihuahua throughout the process. Ensure them that everything is okay and try to maintain a positive attitude, as this will likely spread to your Chihuahua.
  • Step Two - The next step is to coerce your Chihuahua into opening up their mouth. If you purchased a flavored canine toothpaste, chances are they will be more than happy to open their mouths when it's placed in front of them. Dab a little bit of the toothpaste on your finger and place it in front of their mouth. Hopefully they will open up and start licking it, at which point you can gently hold their mouth open with one of your hands.
  • Step Three - With your Chihuahua's mouth open, you should now have access to their teeth and gums. Take a minute to closely inspect their mouth to see if there's any serious signs of tooth decay or gum disease. As long as everything looks good, place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and gently run it over their teeth. There's really no one particular way to brush a Chihuahua's teeth, as all Chihuahuas are different. If your Chihuahua is trying to close their mouth, just focus on the large canines and then work your way to the smaller teeth.
  • Step Four - After you've brushed your Chihuahua's teeth, let them know how good of a boy/girl they were by giving them lots of praise and petting. Positive reinforcement in the key to making your Chihuahua enjoy having their teeth brushed. If you continue to give them praise each time you brush their teeth, chances are they will grow to love it.
Chihuahua Oral Care

Chihuahua Oral Care

Other Ways To Improve Your Chihuahua's Oral Health

In addition to brushing your Chihuahua's teeth, there are a couple other things you can do to improve their oral health. For starters, you should only be feeding them a premium solid dog food. Soft canned dog food can be a real treat for a small Chihuahua, but it can also increase the chance of tooth decay. The soft moist food particles will stick to their teeth where they slowly eat away at the enamel. If you decide to give your Chihuahua wet food, only give it to them as an occasional treat and not an everyday meal. A good crunchy dog food will naturally help to scrape tartar off their teeth as they eat it.

Rawhides and tough chew toys are also helpful in removing built-up plaque and tartar. There's no denying the fact that Chihuahuas love playing with their favorite toys, so why not give them a toy that's going to help clean their teeth?  A simple rawhide chew is all it takes to help remove some of the food particles and tartar on their teeth. Just remember to closely watch over your Chihuahua anytime they are given a treat.


30 Responses to “Chihuahua Dental Care and Oral Hygiene 101”

  1. Kyler says:

    My little boy dog used to have the worst breath. Which is terrible for him because when he’d try to be a small stud for the bitches, they’d just laugh at him and sit down. Denied!

    He has another little boy dog friend named Yuki who whenever daddy dog Niko would lick Yuki’s fawn-like face, Yuki would be like ‘grrrrr.’

    So Niko is the lucky owner of two testicles courtesy of his pa’s (me) not wanting to mutilate my puppies manhood. Apparently with great privilege comes excellent sacrifice and in this case, it’s the ‘alpha’ dog like behavior he exhibits.

    We walk every day, and EVERY time he sees any dog he’ll go nuts, “hey you! Across the STREET! That tree belongs to my pack and you’re not in my pack!”.

    So the bright side of his feisty behavior is when I started brushing his teeth all I had to do was slowly move the tooth brush with the enzymatic tooth paste towards his mouth and he would bite the tooth brush which I mean, sure dummy, bite the toothbrush it’s what I want you to do anyway.

    So now it’s become this routine of reluctant biting on the tooth brush which , between that and this stuff I put in his water from petco and green dog treats, his breath has improved SO much.

    I’ve read somewhere that tooth decay is an effect of missing something that can only be found in the internal organs of animals which is disgusting, but I feel in the future I may add liver to his weekly diet and see what happens.

  2. joey says:

    The problem most of you are having is that you are trying to brush your dogs teeth way too soon. the brush should be introduced slowly, with treats. you should not even try to brush your dogs teeth for a month or so. start with just showing the dog the brush and giving a treat. progress to touching the dog near the mouth with it, then rubbing the mouth area, then slightly opening the mouth and rubbing, then let it lick some toothpaste off the brush without brushing, etc… one tiny baby step at a time is the key. they taught pigeons to guide missiles this way (look it up project orcon) so you can certainly get a dog to let you brush its teeth 😀 hope this helps.

  3. Susie says:

    I started with my little Daisy Mae at 8 weeks. Now she knows when I get her pj’s and toothbrush it’s time for bed. She lays on her back and lets me clean every one. My previous chihuahua lived 18 years and I learned from him the you must stay up on their teeth.
    Don’t give up, it’s worth it.

  4. Brenda Merritt says:

    my Buddy is 5 yrs old & I’m ashamed to say his teeth are in very bad condition. Is it too late to start oral hygiene? He needs a few extracted asap & the smell of his breath is almost unbearable. I love him as much as my children & don’t know what I would do without him. He is the most loyal companion I have EVER had. I couldn’t bare it if he were to pass as a result of my neglect of his teeth & gums. He allows me to cut his nails but is very aggressive when it comes to touching his mouth. Any advice?

  5. martha says:

    my Chihuahua has only one tooth she’s about 13 yrs.old.she has white soft stuff in one spot a dr.give her antibiotic and it hasn’t disappeared what could this be???she does a lot of licking and licks air a lot any suggestions???

  6. Andrea and Charlie says:

    I also like to add some apple cider vinegar to his water. Just a bit. But it’s antibacterial and all natural, so it’s good for them and helps bad breath

  7. Titan says:

    My dog likes to take crackers and hide them in random areas when no one is looking so every once and awhile I’ll catch him stashing one and he looks at me like ” aw hell no he seen me… ” and grabs his cracker and runs to the nearest stash spot out of view. Oh yeah and brushing teeth is good.

  8. T, melnyk says:

    I’m going nuts with my little Chi. He is 4 years old and just pulls and tries to back away from the tooth brush every second I am trying to brush his teeth or even when I’m trying to hold his head. I a patient with him but because he fights me so much it’s taking way longer than he or I can stand. Sigh. He squeals when I try to get into his back teeth and I think it might be because his teeth are not even in the back and I am probably getting the gums more too…hard to see back there in his cheek. I have used gauze too and he still fights me but I don’t think gauze is rough enough to do a good job. He seems very sensitive to lots of things so I wonder if it’s more about his temperament or what can I do to make this daily routine more successful for us both. Pop

  9. Tom Belgard says:

    I lost my beloved Chihuahua to heart failure this year. One of his heart valves was weak and his lungs filled up with fluid. My dog was a rescue and his previous owner severely neglected his teeth. When I got him, he needed extensive work and several teeth had to be pulled. The bottom line is that bad teeth can cause heart failure. If you love your Chihuahua, take care of his oral health.

  10. Rosemary Grosshandler says:

    I took my chi to vet. He is five but stubborn. Will eat toothpaste but not let me do a good brushing. Small mouth makes it harder to clean in the back. I feel he is worth vet doing it and taking care of him like a person.

  11. angela says:

    I’ve brushed n brushed… this dogs old n lost several teeth… his breath is nauseating to the point I cant show any affection like holding him or letting him sit w/ me and I feel terrible…. what else can I do?

    • jennie says:

      Don’t waste any more money on toothbrushes and pastes.
      My secret to the BEST oral health care for my 13yr old Chihuahua and any other breed is:

      Complete Oral Care (Peppermint Gel or Spray) from This stuff is awesome! Use as directed. followed by a Dream Bone (one daily for small dogs) chicken or peanut butter flavor. Dogs love them and they remove the tooth tartar loosened by the gel. My vet recommended having my dogs teeth cleaned a year ago (too expensive). They wont believe his teeth on his next visit!

  12. A says:

    You gave good tips on brushing the dogs’ teeth. Also, I think it’s good that you used statistics to stress the importance of dental care. However, there’s a couple of things you got wrong.

    Wet food has no negative effect on their teeth. That myth’s just spread ,so people will buy dry food. Speaking of dry food, I read somewhere that dry food’s not even that abrasive. (My mom ,who’s helped own two dogs, confirmed that.)

    Back to wet food for a moment. Feeding wet food at every meal can be a good thing. A dog’s natural diet contain is supposed to contain a lot of water. The 10-12% in dry food won’t cut it. (Well, it’s 18% in Kibbles ‘n Bits. However, that should be avoided because, there’s nothing good in there.)

    • melba says:

      Our vet told us exactly the opposite of what you wrote – the vet said Not to feed dry dog food to our chi and instead feed her wet canned food – the vet said the dry food will get stuck in our chi’s teeth and wet food will not.

  13. Leanna says:

    I got my chi when I was turning 10 (as a birthday present that wasn’t planned) and we didn’t know very much about the breed since we’ve only really had poodles. She’s now 4 years old and I since I’m older now too I realize how important it is to brush your dogs teeth. So I have poultry flavored toothpaste I bought her which she really likes and I got a tiny toothbrush but she won’t let me brush her teeth! Because we never enforced it as a puppy she just won’t let me open her mouth to brush …any ideas to help ?

  14. Kathy Thomas says:

    my Chi has two extra sharp teeth on each side on top and i was just at 9 months old has not lost any at all what do I do?

  15. Agnes says:

    A woman who has a chihuahua claims to have had ALL her pups teeth removed due to an oral infection of some type. I’m not sure why she even has a dog 😔 She has a baby about 6 months old & in my heart I feel she’s so mean, she had ALL of his teeth removed because of some infection!! Is that what these poor lil guys are forced to live?

  16. Debianne says:

    I can’t get my Chi, Chloe, to hold still long enough unless I let her chew on my finger with those needle sharp teeth in the back … owwwwww! BUT, I shall persevere.

    • Lorraine yerian says:

      You can buy little rubber finger tips to put over your finger, and chicken flavour toothpaste. Just let them taste it first time, then brush one tooth, then more each time. Sometimes just a clean soft rag with toothpaste on it to wipe their teeth…..

  17. Christine Fink says:

    My little Pocito is 3 1/2 yrs old and although I’ve tried everything we just visited the vet for his first teeth cleaning as his teeth were very bad. Nothing I have been able to do from brush to water attitudes to a special spray has helped his back molar teeth from getting very dark tarter on them. While at the vets she noticed some loose teeth and although these were ones that were very clean of tarter she had to pull them. He now is missing a couple bottom teeth right in the front and it seems to me it will be very hard for him to deal with eating and chewing his toys. Has anyone encountered this sad issue? Will he manage ok? I was advised by the vet that he may need others pulled by next year. What can I do to help him, anyone with know of this that knows how I can prevent further pulling? My heart breaks for how’s he’s feeling after this procedure today😢

  18. corvairbob says:

    i just got a new chi at 8 weeks old.. i started at once while she was nipping my finger to run her teeth inside and outside. she did not like it at first but she is getting now to let me rub her teeth back and front with not to many issues. in a few days i will start to use toothpaste. the best brush i found for my other 2 chi’s that have pasted las month is a mascara brush. get one that has no sharp end on it and even if they chew it they are still getting some brushing done by themselves.

    bella is learning fast

  19. arletta lantz says:

    My chihuahua will not let me open his mouth and I can’t afford to go to a vet. What can i do at home.

    • Ben Middleton says:

      Do your best to get in there if u don’t serious problems could occur also don’t feed human food. Good luck God bless

    • Lorraine yerian says:

      Wrap a tiny piece of soft old tshirt around your finger, just start with rubbing outside their jaw, then gently rub inside the front, put some chicken flavored toothpaste ( from vet, $5) on rag, let them lick it, then slowly rub their teeth, more each session. Then buy a little rubber finger toothbrush, this is much easier and gentle, try that. Not expensive. Good luck!

  20. Michelle Guest says:

    I brush my Gizmos teeth everyday but they still get tarter on the eye teeth some. Raw Carrots help alot to whiten teeth

  21. mike phillips says:

    My dog will bite the hell out of you if you try the above procedure. Add step 5 – Clean up the blood, get bandages and stitches.
    I am happy for people who can accomplish this, though.

    • Michael says:

      ugh i could never own a pet that bites you. Peeing all the over place, bouncing off the walls, even barking I can deal with. But biting… meh.

  22. Demi Lavato says:

    My Chihuahua, Pillow, gets her teeth cleaned twice a day.
    Her teeth are absolutely squeaky clean but no-one really sees them cos she sleeps all the time and thats why she’s called Pillow

    • Shari says:

      I love the name pillow. Such a cute name because she sleeps alot, how long did you have your dog until you came up with the name. Just wondering. Thanks and have a beautiful day.

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