Chihuahuas are prone to tooth decay because they have small mouths and their teeth are very close together making them a food trap. Brushing your dog’s teeth every day is the best way to keep your chihuahua’s teeth clean but it’s not always possible.

Not cleaning your chihuahua’s teeth can lead to some surprising problems, apart from tooth decay and bad breath a statistical link has been shown between gum disease and heart problems.

If you clean your dog’s teeth every day then you have it cracked, but it’s notoriously difficult to clean a chihuahua’s teeth if they’re not feeling the love.

Dental chews & sticks

There are a huge variety of different dental chews and sticks on the market that suggest they will help clean your dog’s teeth. They may help a bit but what concerns me is the calorie content of these products. To a large dog, the calorie count is not much but for a chi, it can seriously add extra low-quality calories that they just don’t need. I generally give these a miss or I haven’t found one I like yet. Maybe, I need to look for chews with low-calorie, something like pig ears for dogs, which are made from all-natural pork that’s free from any added hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.

Raw bones

Raw bones are very good for teeth cleaning, all that chewing and nibbling meat gives the teeth the equivalent of a good flossing. Scraping away tartar and polishing the teeth as your chihuahua crunches and gnaws. Also, your chi will get extra calcium phosphorus & magnesium.

It is important to give your chi the right bones to avoid broken teeth. The research we have done suggests lamb or goat bones are best. Cow shanks might be too hard and too big for your chi to manage.

Never cook the bones as this makes them brittle and splinter.

If you are giving bone with marrow in then it’s a good idea to scrap the majority of the marrow out. Marrow is basically fat and while very tasty for your chihuahua, too much is likely to cause an unhappy bottom. I would scrape most of it out and just leave enough to keep it interesting.

If you have more than one chihuahua you are also likely to get ‘Game of Bones’, where one steals the others and then all sorts of shenanigans ensue. Leave the bones down for a while then remove them after about 20 minutes. If you chihuahua is reluctant to give it up, then exchange it for something else like a treat.

Kibble (avoid)

Some dog foods will suggest they have teeth cleaning properties. And when you look at it you can see why some owners believe this is true. They are abrasive and rub the teeth when eaten. But kibble is full of carbohydrate which turns to sugar. Like for humans, sugar is going to rot teeth. Dogs don’t need any carbohydrate and can’t process sugar. Avoid.

Raw veggies (avoid)

People love the idea of giving raw vegetables to their dog. Often based on the notion that if it’s good for people, then it must be good for a dog. But, dogs are not geared up for raw veggies. They don’t have the correct teeth to grind down the cellulose or the correct enzymes in their saliva to start the digestion processes. Cows and other herbivores eat with a grinding motion. Dogs are carnivores (not omnivores that dog food manufactures would like you to believe) they are geared up for gulping and digesting lumps of fat and protein in the gut. Lumps of raw veg can sit in the gut and cause belly ache or if you’re really unlucky a blockage. If you are going to feed veggies to your dog then cook or grate them first.

Frozen chicken wings

A lot of people give their dogs frozen chicken wings to gnaw on. It will have the same effect as giving raw bones. Chicken wings might be easier for a smaller chi to manage. My feeling is frozen might be less messy that fresh. Remember to take the calories of the meat into their daily allowance.

Always supervise your dog with any bones.


It’s the abrasive action of chewing the antler that makes them work for teeth cleaning. Minnie absolutely loves them, Mika not so much. He only likes the political advantage of taking Minnie’s and holding it to ransom! I have read that some people soak the antler in chicken broth to make it more appealing and to soften it. An antler is expensive, a small one can be 7.00 – 9.00 but they do last a long time. The downside of antlers is the possibility of broken teeth. Some vets are dead against them for this reason. I run them through the band saw so Minnie can get at the inside.

Coconut oil & neem oil

Coconut oil and neem oil are super good for cleaning your dog’s teeth, they both contain natural anti-bacterial properties which kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay. If you can, rub it into your dog’s teeth and gums, or coat their favourite chew toys. I had a go at rubbing it into Mika’s teeth fully expecting to get bitten and surprise surprise it went OK. We now have a funny little spikey ball toy that you can put a couple of treats in and then coat the ball in coconut oil. Read more about neem oil here.
(Neem oil is a must have cupboard staple and not just used for teeth cleaning. It can be used for fleas, cuts, stings and skin issues. I always have some in the cupboard.)

Kelp seaweed

This is my favourite and easy to use. Kelp Seaweed seems to be another undervalued superfood that is rich in Iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium. It is much more readily available and is available as a supplements. Just add some to their nosh. I have been adding seaweed to their food for a few years now and touchwood Mika had his teeth cleaned at the vets this year and had no extractions. He is 10 now.

Feeding it to your dog will help reduce tartar build-up on her teeth and provide a host of other health benefits. It is easily available as a powder which can be sprinkled over your dog’s food. Read 42 reasons to put seaweed in your dog’s diet

Get this for fresh breath and clean teeth!

A-OK9 Plaque-K9. This is my absolute favourite at the moment. So far I haven’t come across anything better and I thoroughly recommend it. It has added herbes and makes the breath smell sooo much sweeter. We’ve been using it for a few months now and all the chi chis breath is better and their teeth cleaner. At £37.00 it’s a feels expensive, but it lasts for ages and is still a lot cheaper than going in for a teeth clean. I love it so much we’ve become A-OK9 partners. Check it out here.

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Teeth cleaning at the dentist

Getting your teeth cleaned at the vet is very expensive. My regular vet quoted me around £400 plus to clean Mikas teeth last year. But you can shop around. Your vet does not own you and you’re not tied to them. I came across an introductory offer at a local chain of vets that was a third of the price. I got them done there. Frankly if my regular vet wanted to be pissy about it I can take my business to any number of vets. You need to do the best you can for your dog. I have five chi chis and vet bills can take their toll.