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Ears, Teeth & Nails


Dogs with drop ears (ears that hang down), like Havanese, are more likely to get ear infections than dogs with upright ears. It’s important to keep them dry and to keep the ear canal free of excess hair. 

MalAcetic Otic Cleanser   

“I use this after every bath. It helps dry the ear. My vet’s office carries it, but it’s also available online.”      mm


Oral hygiene is important, as many toy dog breeds lose lots of teeth during their lives. It is possible to brush their teeth - this writer brushes the teeth on her dogs at least 5 days a week. It is a process to get the dogs to accept teeth brushing, but once they’re used to it, it takes about 2 minutes a day to brush their teeth! 


CET Virbac Enzymatic Toothpaste    

“Vet recommended, this comes in dog-yummy flavors. My dogs get the Vanilla Mint flavor, which makes their breath smell great.”    mm


Poultry flavor: “My dog loves it!”   la



Oral B Spin Brush    

“My dog got an electric toothbrush before I did! This has a long slender neck and a small round head, so it’s great for getting to the very back molars. And, because the head spins, you don’t need to move the brush back and forth in the dog’s mouth to get cleaning action, and the whole process is faster.”       mm






Virbac C.E.T. Dog and Cat Toothbrush    

“Good for dogs with small teeth.”      la

Thin manual toothbrush


There are several other alternatives for toothbrushes (links are to examples, not specific products that are recommended). You may stick with one of these permanently, or use them as steps to getting used to the process. 


  • When just starting to do dental care, try starting with just a bit of the toothpaste on your finger, and let the dog lick it.

  • Once the dog is happy to do that, try rubbing the toothpaste on the dog’s teeth for a few days until the dog gets used to that.

  • Then you can move up to the gauze wrap (below) and eventually graduate to a brush.

  • Remember to be upbeat and happy throughout, even offering a treat when done.


It may take a month or longer to get your dog to accept the toothbrushing, but it’s worth the effort. Be very careful with puppies and young dogs who are teething - their gums and mouths can be very sore, so keep it light, maybe just a finger with a bit of toothpaste. We don’t want the dog to associate oral care with pain! And, of course, remember that those puppy teeth are very sharp, and when they’re young, puppies want to chew on everything - fingers included! 


Finger brush

A rubbery sheath that you slide over your finger



Wrap your finger with gauze to use as a toothbrush. The gauze adds a slightly rough surface to your finger to help clean the teeth.




There are many options out there, both manual clippers and power grinders, some of which have headlights and guards. One thing most people agree on is not to try to use a grinder for the dewclaws (the “thumb” claw, partway up the front leg), use some sort of manual clipper for those. For very young puppies, some people use people-style nail clippers to nip off those sharp hooks.


Regardless of the tools you decide on, it’s sooooooo important to start working with the dog’s feet as early as possible and get them used to being handled and trimmed, even if you can only get one toenail per session. If you are going to use a grinder, the dog will need to get used to the implement and the sound before you start using it. Nail care is something they will need somewhere between weekly and monthly for life, so while they may not actually enjoy it, we don’t want them to be afraid or hate it. 

Coastal Pet Safari Professional Dog Nail Trimmer                

Recommended by kr


Conairpropet Cat Nail Clippers XSmall     

“These are very similar to the ones I use for dewclaws (mine don’t have any mfg markings on them).      mm


LuckyTail Ultimate Pet Nail Grinder             

“I haven’t used this, but I’m going to try it. My several-year-old Dremel works fine, but this one has all the bells and whistles (guard, lights, lightweight, low noise) and pretty good reviews.”       mm

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