Dental hygiene is important for dogs, just like it is for humans. Many pet parents struggle to clean their dogs’ teeth, even if they understand the importance of good dental hygiene.
Your dog’s dental hygiene is important for several reasons:
- Good dental hygiene helps prevent tooth loss.
- Taking care of your dog’s teeth and gums can prevent bad breath.
- Dental disease caused by bad dental hygiene can be painful for your dog.
- Plaque from poorly-maintained teeth can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause major organ damage.
- Keeping your dog’s teeth clean can prevent new or worsening dental diseases.
- Preventing dental health problems now will be less expensive and time-consuming than treatment down the road.
Now that you know why it’s important to keep your dog’s teeth, you may be looking for easy and practical ways to clean your dog’s teeth at home.
Ways to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth at Home
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of ten easy ways to clean your dog’s teeth at home. While these methods are not a replacement for regular tooth cleanings by your dog’s vet, they are useful tools to help prevent serious dental problems and diseases.
- Use a flavored toothpaste
- Give your dog dental chew treats
- Chew toys to improve oral health
- Invest in some dog dental spray
- Give your dog raw bones or antlers
- Try grapefruit seed extract or cinnamon
- Use coconut oil on your dog’s teeth and gums
- Give tooth wipes a try
- Try an oral hygiene water additive
- Evaluate your dog’s diet (and change it, if needed)
1. Use a flavored toothpaste
While it’s ideal to brush your dog’s teeth every day, most breeds require brushing between one and three times a week. Unfortunately, many dogs cannot stand having their teeth brushed.
You can making brushing your dog’s teeth a little easier by choosing a flavored toothpaste they like. Be sure to use toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs since xylitol and fluoride (common ingredients in human toothpaste) are highly toxic to dogs.
Dog toothpaste comes in great flavors like beef, chicken, and peanut butter. Try a few different flavors to figure out which one your dog likes best. The flavored toothpaste may make brushing more tolerable for your dog.
2. Give your dog dental chew treats
There are plenty of dental chews on the market, specifically designed for dogs of all ages and sizes. Dental chews are designed to help reduce plaque buildup and tartar. The chews are textured with ridges and bumps to help stimulate blood flow to your dog’s gums (promoting gum health).
Best of all, most dogs enjoy chewing on dental chews. If your dog dislikes having his teeth brushed, this offers a toothbrush-free option to help keep your dog’s teeth clean.
Although dental chews are designed for your dog to chew, you should always supervise your dog while they chew them. This way you’re within reach if your dog chokes on his dental chew.
When choosing a dental chew, make sure it doesn’t include ingredients like sugar. Sugar can be counter-productive in your fight to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. Research all ingredients included in your dog’s chew or ask your dog’s veterinarian for recommendations.
3. Provide chew toys designed to improve oral health
Dogs love chew toys. What if you could give a chew toy to your dog that helped him improve oral health?
There are plenty of chew toys on the market designed to help your dog’s teeth and gums. These chew toys often have ridges, bumps, and grooves to help scrape plaque buildup off your dog’s teeth.
You can get dental chew toys made from plastic, nylon, rubber, and rawhide. However, most dog experts recommend against rawhide products, since these pose a major choking risk to your dog.
Chew toys made from plastic, nylon, or rubber make a safer alternative, although you should still supervise your dog when he’s using a chew toy.
Check this out: Why is my dog chewing on his paws?
4. Invest in some dog dental spray
Dog dental spray is a great option to freshen your dog’s breath and promote oral health. These sprays are designed to kill bad bacteria in your dog’s mouth.
This helps your dog have healthier breath and better teeth since the same bacteria that cause bad breath often contribute to plaque buildup. Some dental sprays also remove tartar buildup.
These sprays are easy to use. Simple spray the dental spray onto your dog’s teeth and gums. Since the spray can be applied in a matter of seconds, it’s a great option for dogs who won’t hold still long enough for regular brushing. It is best if you use dental spray half an hour before and after your dog eats.
Best of all, dog dental spray will leave your dog’s breath smelling good! If you’re put off by your dog’s bad breath, this is a great option for both you and your dog.
5. Give your dog raw bones or antlers
Your dog will love chewing on bones! Raw bones can help your dog keep his teeth clean while keeping him entertained for hours. However, bones may cause a choking risk. Cooked bones often come with even greater choking risk, so try to give your dog raw bones when possible.
Even raw bones carry a choking risk. So you should always supervise your dog while they gnaw at a bone. You should avoid giving your dog pork, chicken, or fish bones since they are more prone to splintering.
Antlers also make a great option for helping your dog keep his teeth clean. Antlers make a great alternative to bones since they often last longer and carry less splintering risk.
Chewing on antlers will massage your dog’s gums and teeth, which can help remove plaque and tartar. When choosing an antler, make sure to use a naturally shed antler instead of a velvet antler product cut from live animals.
6. Try grapefruit seed extract or cinnamon
These two ingredients can help you improve your dog’s oral health. Grapefruit seed extract is an antimicrobial, which is often an ingredient in dental sprays. Cinnamon is full of antioxidants that work as an antibacterial.
To use grapefruit seed extract, dilute the oil and put it on your dog’s teeth after you brush. The antimicrobial properties will help provide your dog with additional protection against infection or inflammation.
Cinnamon can be added directly to your dog’s food. Put very small amounts (a teaspoon or less) in your dog’s food each day. In large quantities, cinnamon can cause liver damage in your dog.
However, a small amount added to his food will prevent tooth decay and freshen your dog’s breath. Your dog should not have cinnamon (even in small amounts) if she is pregnant or has a bleeding disorder.
7. Use coconut oil on your dog’s teeth and gums
Coconut oil is a great ingredient to promote oral health. The oil has acids that can kill both fungus and bacteria. Best of all, many dogs love the slightly nutty flavor of this ingredient. Some even call it “nature’s toothpaste” because of its amazing health-promoting properties.
There are a few different ways you can give your dog coconut oil. Apply a small amount to either your dog’s toothbrush or your finger and rub it on your dog’s teeth. You can also soak your dog’s chew toy or a bone in the oil. Make sure the let the chew fully dry before offering it to your dog.
You may also choose to put a small amount of coconut oil in your dog’s food. Alternatively, you can poke holes in a dog-safe veggie (like a carrot) and drip the coconut oil into the holes.
Once you’ve filled the veggie with coconut oil, freeze it and serve the frozen chew to your dog. This can be a messy option, but it is quite effective for cleaning your dog’s teeth!
8. Give tooth wipes a try
Some dogs are okay if you put your fingers in their mouth, yet run away when they see you pull out the toothbrush. If this is your pup, tooth wipes may offer a good alternative to brushing. These specially-formulated wipes remove tartar, plaque, and bacteria from your dog’s teeth.
Simply run the wipes across your dog’s teeth and gums. To maximize the effectiveness of tooth wipes, try a dental spray after each application.
9. Try an oral hygiene water additive
Water additives may be the easiest option on this list! There are many water additive products on the market today, some specifically formulated to help promote your dog’s dental health. Simply add a few drops of the water additive to your dog’s water bowl.
Unfortunately, some dogs dislike the smell and taste of these products. However, if your dog doesn’t mind them, they offer a quick and easy method to improve your dog’s oral health.
10. Evaluate your dog’s diet (and change it, if needed)
Unhealthy food may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure your dog is eating a healthy and natural diet. If you give your dog too many sweet treats, he may end up with unwanted dental health issues.
The nutritional content of your dog’s food is also important. Your dog needs adequate vitamins and minerals to maintain strong teeth.
Although some dog food companies claim that dry food can help promote dental health, the nutrition from a natural diet will promote strong bones and good dental health.