Every veterinarian will advise you to regularly brush your dog’s teeth and while keeping the teeth clean is extremely important, some sources mention that only 1-5% of pet owners brush their dog’s teeth regularly.
And I am not one of them.
That’s right, if you’re searching for an alternative to brushing your dog’s teeth, you’re at the right address.
I’ve never cleaned my dog’s teeth the normal way and they are still sparkling white because I do care for them daily.
Disclaimer: Those alternatives are not for every dog and daily teeth brushing is still the most effective way of keeping your dog’s teeth and gums clean.
Diets and genetics play a big role in oral health and if your dog is prone to gum problems, please speak to your vet for the best way.
In general, large breeds have healthier teeth than small or toy breeds. If the options above are not suitable for your dog, regular brushing will be your best bet.
Before we dive into the exact steps: Do dogs really need to have their teeth cleaned?
Yes, dogs need to have their teeth cleaned but you can either opt for the natural way, teeth brushing, or professional deep cleaning.
How To Clean Dog Teeth Without Brushing
To keep your dog’s teeth clean, there are various options:
- Raw bones & dental toys
- Teeth cleaning supplements
- Brushing dog teeth with coconut oil
- Anesthesia-free dog teeth cleaning
- Professional teeth cleaning for dogs
Who is natural teeth cleaning for?
These methods are for dog owners that just don’t want to use commercial products due to their ingredients and/or can’t manage to clean the teeth of their canine due to them being very defensive about their oral space (often includes rescues or just overly sensitive dogs).
Who is professional teeth cleaning for?
If your dog’s tartar build up is just too advanced, you might want to think about a professional teeth cleaning by your vet.
However, we also present anesthesia-free options for worried owners and older furry companions.
Either way, you’ve probably tried the dog toothbrush and had no success, so let’s check out some alternatives to traditional dog teeth cleaning!
Raw Bones & Dental Toys
Using raw meaty bones and dental toys is perfect after your dog’s plaque is softened with the mentioned supplements below or coconut oil.
That’s not all though.
Many dog owners have reported to only use raw bones for their dog teeth cleaning and have zero tartar build-up, gum diseases, or tooth loss in the first place without using additional methods.
My dog’s on a raw diet which makes for a great variety and lets her chew on various textures while maximizing dietary health benefits.
Depending on your dog’s size and possible allergies, you may have to check out several raw bones like chicken drumsticks, necks, or lamb ribs.
Supervise your dog while they gnaw on the bones to sure your dog doesn’t choke.
Bully Sticks are another alternative to raw meaty bones but don’t have the same effect and should be used in addition to supplements that soften your dog’s tartar.
Dental toys are a great way to keep your dog’s teeth clean while keeping them busy and entertained.
Through their texture, dental toys can scrape off your dog’s tartar but are never a totally safe way of removing any tartar build-up.
There are a variety of stationary dog toothbrushes where customers complain that dogs just lick the stuff off or they completely destroy it (should’ve checked this guide for indestructible chew toys).
Teeth Cleaning Supplements
Many supplements to clean a dog’s teeth make the tartar soft enough for you to scrape it off or use raw bones and dental toys.
The Proden PlaqueOff has been reported to work wonderfully for many dog owners with 4,000+ positive reviews.
It’s very easy to use and your pet won’t feel a thing.
Another option that are more of a preventative measure as well as way to keep your dog’s breath fresh are water additives.
This oral care for dogs by Nylabone can be very effective for what it’s intended but depending on your dog’s degree of tartar build-up, you may want to think about another solution.
Brushing Dog Teeth With Coconut Oil
I’m a long-time big fan of coconut oil for humans and dogs. This natural oil has so many qualities that are also very effective in fighting gum diseases and bacteria.
It’s also extremely yummy! The coconut oil I am using for my dog is this organic virgin coconut oil.
Incorporating coconut oil into your daily schedule will not only benefit your dog’s teeth but also:
- Immune system
- Digestive system
It softens the tooth tartar after every use and makes it possible to just scrape the plague right off.
My Rottweiler Amalia gets four teaspoons of coconut oil in her breakfast every day to supplement her raw diet.
After that, I like to rub a bit of coconut oil onto her teeth and gums so they can really soak in all the benefits.
The recommended daily dose of coconut oil to brush dog teeth is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds or 1 tablespoon for 30 pounds.
Coconut oil is perfect when you use it in addition to raw meaty bones or dental toys to make sure the plaque that is softened actually gets scraped off.
Anesthesia-free Dog Teeth Cleaning
The American Veterinary Medical Association advises against anesthesia-free dog teeth cleaning, but there might still be a place for this procedure.
Will the teeth be completely deep-cleaned besides just being white? Probably not.
So when does teeth cleaning without anaesthesia make sense for dogs?
It makes sense if you’ve exhausted all other options and your dog is too old or fragile for longer anesthesia but you still need to get his teeth cleaned in some way.
Exhausting all options include doing blood work, heart tests and so on for your dog to make sure they’re really not suitable for anesthesia and even then, benefits have to be weighed against possible issues that may arise from teeth issues.
Cosmetic reasons are also possible although debatable.
The thing is that a healthy diet coupled with bones or dental toys should do the trick already and cosmetic tooth problems like mild plaque buildup can often be solved if you have a calm dog and a skilled vet/dentist.
What are the risk of anaesthesia free teeth cleaning?
No, the risks are not the loss of your dog’s teeth as some may want you to believe.
It could be the reason why your pet’s underlying teeth issues won’t be resolved but this way of teeth cleaning doesn’t fuel rotten teeth, it just makes them go unnoticed as it would with every method except professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia.
That being said, problems below the gumline still need to be fixed in another way. And that’s where most oral diseases happen.
The white teeth can definitely give owners a false sense of security and pain or trauma may be caused if the dog doesn’t take well to the treatment and jerks the head away, resulting in cuts in your dog’s lip.
The risk of your dog wiggling around and getting himself injured are definitely present, as is the fact that the teeth just won’t be as clean as they would be if you had opted for regular professional cleaning.
Many vets fear that after teeth-scraping, the mouth is full of blood vessels, which might release oral bacteria into the bloodstream. From there, other organs might be affected.
Anesthesia free dog teeth cleaning in short:
- Pain or trauma
- False sense of security
- Oral bacteria can be released in bloodstream
- Only addresses cosmetic teeth issues
- Suitable for even-tempered dogs with no signs of gum disease and mild tartar buildup
How Much Does It Cost To Have Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned Professionally?
A professional cleaning can cost anywhere from $100-$300 for standard procedures with plaque removal and anesthesia, which mostly depends on your dog’s size.
More difficult procedures that require teeth removal, root canal issues, or other complications can easily cost you $500-$800 right off the bat in more expensive locations.
Some people recommend having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned every 6-12 months although I personally don’t do that.
Then again, my Rottie is just two years old and from what’s visible, her teeth look great.
My Dog’s Teeth Cleaning Routine
After breakfast, I will rub a teaspoon of coconut oil onto my dog’s teeth and let it sit for a few minutes.
I will then go ahead and either give her a soaked chew toy or dental chews so she can get rid of all the plague herself while eating something yummy.
Her breakfast consists of fruits, vegetables, rumen, and sometimes oils and herbs while she gets muscle meat, meaty bones,
She chews a lot on the meaty bones which clean her teeth throughout the meal.
Many people swear by raw bones to clean their dog’s teeth and that’s what keeps them white in the wild.
Dogs rarely get any cavities because their teeth are differently formed and they don’t eat any sugar (or shouldn’t eat any sugar).
A healthy diet makes a great difference in your dog’s well being and I am all for it.
During the day, you can opt for a water additive to keep the breath fresh but I found that it isn’t necessary for my dog.
The vet always compliments her overall health and clean teeth which is mostly thanks to her diet.
Every couple of years, I’d recommend a professional cleaning which can be anesthesia-free or not, depending on the age and health of your dog as well as personal preferences.
What Happens If You Don’t Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
Completely ignoring and neglecting your dog’s dental health will lead to some serious problems eventually.
I know that they are many people claiming that they have never cared for their dog’s dental health and they still reached 16 years
The first symptom of not brushing your dog’s teeth will probably be an unbearable breath caused by plaque build-up.
The number of bacteria may lead to periodontal disease-causing infections, swollen gums,
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Your dog may suffer from toothache or infection.
It’s not that easy to recognize hurting teeth in a dog but he may show it through constantly rubbing his mouth or refusing to eat.
The quicker teeth decay may eventually lead to tooth loss, leaving your dog with a lot of pain and unnecessary problems that will require veterinary attention.
All health-related problems in dogs can become expensive really quickly and most of them can be easily prevented.
If you have doubts and want to be on the safe side, then brush or care for your dog’s teeth daily or at least three times a week.
Imagine what would happen to your mouth if you wouldn’t brush your teeth twice a day.
Is It Safe to Brush Your Dogs Teeth with Baking Soda?
Definitely a big NO. Many sites suggest using baking soda to clean your dog’s teeth but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
First, baking soda tastes horrible. It will make your dog hate the daily brushing.
Second, it’s not safe for your dog to swallow. Baking soda contains alkaline which upsets the digestive system. It can release gasses leading to muscle spasms and heart failure.
Rather stick to dental sprays, gels, water additives and the coconut oil for teeth cleaning.
Using baking soda in chew toys in moderate amounts hasn’t been reported to lead to any problems as far as I know, but I wouldn’t recommend using it as sole option to achieve clean canine teeth.
Study Reveals Many Owners Don’t Brush Their Dog’s Teeth
Interesting fact: Nearly half of the 60,000 respondents in a Swedish study stated that they never brush their dog’s teeth.
The study also revealed that while roughly 27% of the non-brushing respondents would “consider” brushing their dog’s teeth daily and 36% would “maybe consider it”, less than 4% are actually brushing their dog’s teeth daily.
“Almost 9 out of 10 veterinarians and veterinary nurses stated that they often or always recommend tooth brushing” while only 4 out of 10 dog owners have heard about this from their vet, the rest was informed through the internet or journals.
Many factors play into your dog’s dental health.
Genetics and the type of breed also influence dental health.
A raw diet plays a major role in preventing tartar buildup. Raw meat doesn’t stick to the teeth and contains lots of natural enzymes that help in keeping the mouth clean.
Chewing is really important and should be encouraged every day. My dog likes to chew on raw bones which provide the best possible way of keeping her teeth clean.
Chew toys and dental chews are also an alternative.
Supplementing with water additives or dental sprays will make a huge difference in his oral hygiene.
Coconut oil can be used for brushing or added to your dog’s meals. It softens the tartar and keeps your dog healthy and happy.
Small and toy breeds have the most teeth problems and all the tips may not cut it for them.
Speak to your vet about deep cleanings and what their dental routine should look like. Every dog is different and not all approaches work for everyone.
What are your experiences with tooth brushing? Does your dog have great oral health? Let me know in the comments!