Dental health in dogs is as crucial as in humans. As a responsible dog owner, you need to find natural ways of keeping your pooch’s teeth clean to avoid bad breath, discolored teeth, discomfort, periodontal disease, tartar, and plagues. Professional teeth cleaning by a vet can be quite expensive and could have some negative side effects from anesthesia.
Luckily, it is possible to clean your dog’s teeth from home without going to a vet. You want to feel comfortable when your furry friend showers you with big, wet, slobbery, and affectionate kisses without worrying about hygiene or bad breath. In this article, you will learn how to clean your dog’s teeth naturally using various proven techniques. And if you dog feels uncomfortable, you can utilize some mild sedation dentistry procedures to minimize the anxiety.
- Brush your dog’s teeth using a toothbrush
- Provide your dog with dental chew toys
- Offer your dog raw bones
- Provide antlers for chewing
- Use natural dental sprays directly on teeth
- Cotton bud your dog’s teeth with grapefruit seed extract oil after brushing
- Use coconut oil as your dog’s toothpaste; add some on his brush or food
- Add cinnamon to your dog’s food
- Watch your dog’s diet
- Treat your dog with bully sticks as a reward
- Use dental treats during training
1: Brush your dog’s teeth using a toothbrush
Using a toothbrush to clean your dog’s teeth is usually tricky if you have never tried it before. First, you need to know how to do it properly and your dog should feel comfortable with it. Purchase a toothbrush that fits in your dog’s mouth and then train your pooch to familiarize himself with the brush. Start by rubbing a finger on his gums when he feels relaxed, perhaps after play or a walk. Once your dog gets used to the idea of teeth and gum rubbing, gradually introduce the brush. Brush softly over the gum line and teeth in a circular motion, starting from the back to the front. Do this for about 30 seconds on the lower jaw and 30 seconds on the upper jaw. Finally, make it a daily routine to ensure fresh breath and good dental health. Remember to use only toothpastes intended for dogs since regular fluorides in human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs.
2: Provide your Dog with Dental Chews and Toys
Giving your dog chew toys is a perfect, sneaky way to naturally clean their teeth while keeping them entertained. These toys are designed with bumps and grooves that clear teeth plaque when rubbed against them. This design also creates a massaging feeling when gnawed on. After giving your dog a toy to chew on, you will witness how great she feels as she gnaws on it. While doing so, the toy cleans your dog’s teeth without her realizing it. Dog chew toys can come in handy, especially if your dog does not fancy a toothbrush.
What you need to do is purchase a toy designed for teeth one that your dog won’t get bored chewing on. These toys come in different sizes and are often infused with different dog-safe scents such as peppermint for fresh breath. For more effectiveness, supervise your dog every day for about 3 minutes as he chews on the toy just to be sure. Also, ensure you provide the toy after every meal and encourage your pup to chew on it.
When buying dental chews, watch out for products with dubious ingredients such as sugar that are counter-productive to the dental health of your pooch. Go for healthy crunchy textures with tooth-friendly contents such as coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, and clinically proven hexametaphosphate for pearl white and healthy teeth. Give at least one dental chew to your dog every day as a supplement to regular brushing.
3: Offer Your Dog Raw Bones
Dogs have a primal chewing instinct and you can use it to their dental advantage. Bones, in particular, are very appealing to dogs, but be careful, some dogs might take it too far and damage their teeth or choke. As your dog chews on the bone, it gives their teeth a good cleaning and provides essential nutrients. When choosing the type of bones, go for raw ones but strictly avoid chicken, pork, and fish bones since they splinter easily.
Choose the appropriate size of bone for your dog depending on the age and size. This is because the bone has to be too big to be swallowed or splintered. As your dog is chewing, the bone scrapes the enamel gently, loosening tartar and buffing off plaque. Try providing bones 2-3 times per week. They could be knucklebones or soup bones, preferably from beef. Giving raw bones to your dog is the best all-natural method of cleaning their teeth.
4: Provide Antlers for Chewing
Antlers are great alternative for bones and dogs love them as well. Deer antlers can last for weeks and the chances of splintering them are minimal. However, we still advise you to supervise while your dog is gnawing on them to prevent choking. Antlers remove plaque deposits by massaging your dog’s teeth.
5: Use Natural Dental Sprays directly on your Dog’s Teeth
Just like mouth sprays for humans, there are natural dental sprays specifically formulated for dogs. They destroy plaque, prevent tartar build-up, and give dogs a minty-fresh breath by destroying bacteria that cause bad breath. To use this product, pull back your dog’s lips and spray on the affected areas. Ensure your dog does not eat or drink just before or after a dental spray application. However, this natural method of cleaning your dog’s teeth is only possible if your dog can hold still long enough for you to apply the spray.
6: Cotton bud your dog’s teeth with grapefruit seed extract after brushing
Grapefruit seed extract is a strong antimicrobial and is the main ingredient in natural dental sprays. The extract is actually not just made from grapefruit seed but also grapefruit pulp and membrane. After obtaining the extract, dilute it with water then use a cotton bud to dab it on the dog’s brushed teeth. This natural extract has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.
7: Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains certain acids that kill bacteria and fungi. If you’re wondering how to clean your dog’s teeth naturally using coconut oil, here are the methods and procedures:
a: Using coconut oil as dog toothpaste
Your dog might not like the artificial flavors in their toothpaste. Using coconut oil as the toothpaste makes brushing easier since dogs love its nutty taste. Dab your pooch’s toothbrush in the oil and proceed to brush the teeth. Coconut oil is natural, flavorful, and antibacterial, therefore, safe for dog dental health. You can also apply the oil on your finger then rub it against the dog’s teeth and gums in case he hates brushes.
b: Applying coconut oil on chewing bones
The second option is to soak a bone in coconut oil and leave it to dry. Afterward, simply give it to your dog to chew. If you give him the soaked bone before the oil dries up, it will all drip off. This method does not, however, remove tartar build-up.
c: Add some coconut oil in your dog’s food
Alternatively, add coconut oil to your daily dog’s food. Take a teaspoonful of coconut oil and add to every 10 pounds of food or a tablespoon for 30 pounds. Although this will not give thorough cleaning, the oil’s natural ingredients will help in fighting some dental problems.
8: Add Cinnamon to your Dog’s Food
We might not think of the cinnamon we use in porridge as something we would feed our dogs, but it is indeed great for pooches. Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, and breath freshener. Simply sprinkle half a teaspoonful of cinnamon into your dog’s food every day. Be careful not to add too much since it has a compound that can be dangerous to the liver when consumed in excess. Also, do not feed it to pregnant dogs or those suffering from bleeding disorders.
9: Watching your dog’s diet
Are you still wondering how to clean your dog’s teeth naturally at home? Well, the first step is to watch his diet just as you watch yours. Unhealthy foods can damage your dog’s gums and canines. Include natural highly-nutritive foods to your pooch’s food with lots of meat for strong teeth. Kibble has become the most popular food for our dogs but it is not all-natural. It has a lot of carbohydrates which are used as fillers and not for nutrition. Carbs are very harmful to the teeth since they feed the bacteria in your furry friend’s mouth, encouraging the build-up of plaque.
A fresh healthy diet of vegetables and quality meat causes less build-up of plaque or tartar compared to a carb diet. Don’t rely too much on dry kibble to clean your dog’s teeth. Turn to fresher diets and wet dog foods with no artificial fillers if you want your dog to have a good dental and overall health.
10: Treat your dog with bully sticks as a reward
Bully sticks are tastier than dental chew toys, last longer than dental treats, and are not as messy as raw bones. Bully sticks are tough chews that keep your pooch occupied while cleaning his teeth. They scrape off tartar and plaque as your dog satisfies his chewing instinct. We recommend you to supervise the chewing since some dogs might swallow large pieces and choke. Also, limit the number of bully sticks since they are very rich in calories.
11: Use dental treats during training
During training, reward your dog with dental treats rather than sugar and carb-laden bombs. Try dog-friendly vegetables or fruits such as apple slices without seeds, squash, pumpkins, and carrots. Freeze-dried meat treats from liver, chicken, or beef are also great options for healthy treats. All these foods scrape off tartar and plaque as your dog chews on them.
Even if you cannot clean your dog’s teeth every single day or after every meal, try developing some kind of natural teeth cleaning routine. Neglecting your dog’s dental health can result in discolored teeth, bad breath, gum disease, or other oral infections. Most of the above methods should accompany regular brushing but not replace it. They are natural methods that can be done at home and your dog will feel like he is being rewarded while cleaning his teeth in the process. If your pup already has serious dental problems, it is better to visit a qualified vet as soon as possible. Serious dental problems might become life-threatening, especially to young or elderly dogs.
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.