Wondering how to keep your Chihuahua’s teeth clean?
Great news! This article will reveal that and:
- What the best time to clean your Chihuahua’s teeth is.
- Why you should let your Chihuahua feel in control of the situation.
- How to make teeth brushing fun by involving your Chihuahua in a game.
- 3 valuable ideas on what to do if your Chihuahua doesn’t like having their teeth brushed.
- And way more…
Table of contents
How often should you clean your Chihuahua’s teeth?
Ideally, you should clean your Chihuahua’s teeth twice a day. This timing is essential because you want your pet to get used to the cleaning process. Brushing can be a tedious process for your Chihuahua. The sooner you make it frequent, the easier it will be for them to start getting used to it.
5 tips on how to clean your Chihuahua’s teeth
#1: Let them ‘own’ your instruments
Chihuahuas are famously territorial dogs and love to own anything they can get their paws on.
For them, toothbrushes and toothpaste should be no different. As an owner, you can help your Chihuahua love brushing by letting them identify with your tools.
To make them feel like they own their brush, you need to:
Let them smell it
You should always do this for every session. The first time lets them know that this is the smell to look forward to when brushing.
Use bright colors
Chihuahuas don’t just remember things with their nose; they can also remember with their eyes. Specific colors like yellow, blue, or gray will definitely help you.
Pet them as they smell
Petting is a useful tool that lets your pet know smelling is a good thing. It trains your dog to smell specific things while helping them like you even more.
The same is also true for toothpaste. Dog toothpaste tends to be meat-flavored. Thus, smelling helps make them think brushing is just another way of eating.
You can even play smelling games with your dog!
You can try the ‘cup’ game – here’s how it goes:
- Find two to three cups.
- Coat a treat with dog toothpaste.
- Have your dog smell the coated treat.
- Place the treat inside a cup, and the cups on a table.
- Spin them around and have your dog guess where it is.
Once this is done, you can feed your dog the treat shortly after!
Note: Be sure to play games hours before brushing. Chihuahuas are typically relaxed during the afternoons, so do it in the morning!
#2: Don’t wrestle for control of their teeth
Chihuahuas often love being petted. Just be careful with their mouths and whiskers! They tend to be quite sensitive about it.
This means that dog owners should avoid pinning their Chihuahua down.
When you brush their teeth, place your Chihuahua on an elevated space like the couch or table.
Note: While sitting down or crouching, be sure their face is on or below your shoulder level for maximum comfort.
Once you’re ready, gently touch their face. Pet their forehead while slowly making your way into their mouth. From there, you need to:
Coat your fingers
The paste’s flavor will help make your dog open their mouths.
Gradually lift their lips
Don’t force their mouths open, and instead start with their cheek teeth since this is where cavities gather anyway. Keep lifting their lips until they’re ready to open wide.
Note: Let them close their mouths on their own. It’s better if they open their mouths for a few short seconds because they might feel uncomfortable if you take control.
Pet or talk while brushing them
This will keep your dog reassured and happy while brushing.
Here’s a good video showing how to brush your Chihuahua’s teeth properly:
Caution: Their whiskers are extremely sensitive, so avoid touching them whenever possible!
#3: Brush them at their own time
Chihuahuas tend to be active and mobile. They do not like sitting still for long periods of time and they can get cranky in enclosed spaces.
Thankfully, they have a resting period each day. This is where you should have their teeth brushed, because they’ll move less and make it easier for you.
Typically, dogs are less active during afternoons, but each Chihuahua is different, so you need to choose the best time for them.
Here are some signs that your Chihuahua is ready for a good brush:
This is a prominent sign during their first few brushes. When you see them doing this, it’s a good sign they’re mentally preparing themselves for brushing, which can be stressful.
If your dog is lying down or staying in their crate for extended periods, it means they’ll move less when you brush them.
Note: Be sure to take them when they’re awake. Dogs tend to get cranky when woken from a nap!
*Reading tip: ‘Why Does My Dog Hate Me’.
They sniff around for their toothpaste
Chihuahuas remember the things they sniff. If they start hanging around in places where you put your toothpaste, use that as an opportunity to start the session.
Note: Be sure to keep each session several hours apart as too much brushing can be uncomfortable for your Chihuahua. Brush them during the afternoons and before their nightly bedtime. Remember not to force them if they’re not in the mood!
#4: Buy several kinds of the same instruments
Dogs don’t just brush with anything. Like us, they are also picky with their toothpaste’s flavor and their brushes’ texture.
This means that brushing can be an expensive process of trial-and-error.
Some Chihuahuas will like brushing with only their owners’ fingers, while some will prefer brushes that reach into their gums.
To help them out, you need to test each tool. A good way to do this is to buy at least 3 kinds of small-sized toothpaste with different flavors.
Note: Buy them in bundles so you can have more options while spending less.
The closer the flavors are to their preferred treats, the better.
If the treat’s brand also sells their own paste, give it a go. Uniformity is key!
Put some of each paste on your fingers and place them on their cheek teeth. If they start to lick it and wag their tails, it’s a sign they like the paste.
Caution: Do not use human toothpaste! They contain Xylitol (flavoring agent) which can hurt your dog’s liver.
But what about their toothbrush? Here’s a few things you can do to test your dog’s tolerance for it.
Try finger brushes first
Chihuahuas have small mouths, so it’s possible to brush them only with your fingers. If they don’t like it, move on to a special dog brush.
Let your brush rest on each side
Coat the brush with your toothpaste and place it on their front and cheek teeth for 2-3 seconds. If they start fidgeting or don’t want to open their mouths, stop.
Test each brush separately within the day
Brush testing can be stressful for your dog, so don’t try different things all at once. Reserve a whole week (1 brush test a day) until you find something that works.
Note: Be sure to get different textures. Not all brushes have the same design, so be liberal with your options.
#5: Comfort them
For dogs, brushing can be an emotional challenge. If you don’t treat your dog gently, they might get scared of brushing permanently.
To prevent this problem, you need to think of after-brush rewards that will keep your dog happy. Here are some suggestions that can help:
Since brushing requires a bit of effort on their part, you need to give your Chihuahua a good petting for their time. It will help them think that their cooperation will gain your affection.
If possible, go with a specific petting method you know they’ll like, such as a belly rub.
Go for a walk
Brushing typically gets Chihuahuas out of their resting mode, so take advantage of that by going on a walk with them after a good brush.
Note: Walk them for only 30 minutes each day! If they’ve had their exercise prior to this, use the remaining time or play an indoor mind game instead.
Get a special, after-brush treat
Brushing is stressful for dogs. If you give them a treat with the same flavor as their toothpaste, they might think they’re still being brushed. Give them something unique so they can feel the love!
Note: Try using these treats as part of your after-brush mind games. You can use it as a standalone reward, but be sure to at least pet them.
What to do when your Chihuahua doesn’t like ‘teeth cleaning’?
Some Chihuahuas may not like brushing their teeth at all for a variety of reasons.
They may not like brushing because they’ve been traumatized by previous owners. Or they’re just too sensitive for the job.
When this happens, there are plenty of alternatives that you can explore. Here are some of them:
#1: Use chew toys
Chew toys are good brushing alternatives. They satisfy your Chihuahua’s need to feel superior while still cleaning their teeth.
They’re not as accurate as hands-on brushing, but they’re pliable and will easily reach tough spots. Their texture also helps dislodge plaque and tartar.
Any kind of chew toy is okay, but use the bone for more results.
Its straight design and visual appeal will help clean your dog’s molars and premolars (back of the mouth), which can be hard to reach without a brush.
Caution: Make sure to pick large toys that will make your Chihuahua open wide. This will prevent choking hazards.
You can also play certain games involving chew toys, such as hide-and-seek or even fetch.
To make the game easier, use the squeaky version. The sound will help your Chihuahua find you in hide-and-seek, while it will serve as a helpful indicator in fetch.
For crate time, you can use non-squeaky versions. Chihuahuas can be hyperactive during the night.
Having a non-squeaky chew toy will keep the noise down while helping them fight boredom.
Note: Chew toys can also be used as an after-brush treat or if you’re really in a hurry. If you’re unable to spare 30 minutes, let the toy do the work for you.
#2: Brush with your fingers
Dogs can hate toothbrushes because they may find it too prickly.
If your Chihuahua’s gums are particularly sensitive, it can cause them to bite you or growl in pain. You can forget about brushes altogether if this happens.
However, this is why you’re encouraged to use your fingers before the brush first. They’re not just there to warm them up– they’re also a last resort!
If your Chihuahua is unable to tolerate brushes, coat your fingers and let them smell it instead.
Once they’re comfortable, lift their lips until you see their molars and gently rub them. For harders spots, you can use your pinky.
They will keep closing their mouths often, so work with your dog’s timing. You can keep their mouths open by lifting their upper lips with your coated fingers.
Caution: If your Chihuahua starts growling or moving around, stop immediately. Even with your fingers, it can take months before they become comfortable..
From there, let your dog do the rest. They will immediately lick the paste and coat the rest of their mouth with it by mimicking chewing.
#3: Visit your vet frequently
Normally, it’s recommended that you visit your vet yearly for a dental checkup.
However, this can change if you’re unable to get your Chihuahua to have their teeth brushed.
Chew toys can help clean their teeth for you, but their teeth will eventually wear out, especially if they’re older.
Note: This is also why brushing is recommended over chewing; it’s accurate and puts less stress on their teeth.
If you’re not careful, your dog can get dental infections in a matter of months or years. Visiting your vet at specific times will prevent this:
Before their first brush
Ask your vet if there are any dentally healthy foods or treats that they can take. They will typically recommend treats that encourage more chewing.
You can also ask for their own step-by-step guide. Trained vets have experiences with dogs on an individual level, so it’s always best to use their advice.
If they’re avoiding the brush
Check with your vet for any gum/teeth problems and plaque buildup. It’s possible that your Chihuahua is avoiding cleaning because they’re sore somewhere.
If they’re chewing on the wrong things too often
Even if you’re careful, it’s still possible for them to accidentally munch on your leftover chicken legs.
If you start to notice odd behavior, especially when eating, get them checked as soon as you can.