Dog dental hygiene is just as important as your own dental hygiene. Unfortunately, many pet owners neglect this aspect of caring for their dogs. Most dogs don’t like being held down while you scrub a brush inside their mouth. They might bark, fight back or try to bite you— and even if they don’t attack, they’re under a lot of stress. You can find dog dental chews and toys in pet stores across the United States. Why not stick with these instead of wrestling your dog to the ground so you can get the toothbrush in their mouth?
Dental chews might improve your dog’s dental hygiene, but they won’t protect your dog in the long run. Your dog could suffer from plaque buildup, broken teeth, swollen gums, and other conditions that make it hard for them to enjoy their life. If it gets bad enough, you’ll have to take them in for veterinary teeth cleaning. Your dog will feel much better afterward, but cleanings can easily cost hundreds of dollars. Why spend all that money when you could brush your dog’s teeth for free with homemade dog toothpaste?
You could buy commercial dog toothpaste, but if you want to save some money, you probably have everything you need to make toothpaste at home. Dog toothpaste requires only a few simple ingredients that are (mostly) free of artificial chemicals. If your dog doesn’t like the toothpaste, you can add ingredients to make it tastier for your dog. Mix it up, store it in the fridge and break it out a few times a week to keep your dog’s teeth clean, healthy, and strong.
Brushing your dog’s teeth might be a hassle at first, but when you get into the habit, you’ll be glad that you took the time to learn. Here’s what you need to know about making dog toothpaste and how it benefits your dog.
How Do You Make Homemade Dog Toothpaste?
The Internet has dozens of recipes, but most homemade dog toothpaste recipes start with a base of baking soda or coconut oil. Other ingredients might include herbs, spices, and flavor enhancers like dog-safe peanut butter or beef bouillon. You might have to do a little shopping to pick up some herbs. If your dog isn’t picky, you could whip up a basic toothpaste with only two ingredients. Here are some of the most popular dog toothpaste recipes.
Here’s a very simple DIY dog toothpaste recipe. Combine one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of water, then mix it together. Baking soda isn’t just for your kitchen— it can clean your dog’s teeth, reduce odor and eliminate plaque with the gritty texture. If your dog doesn’t like the taste of pure baking soda, replace the water with their favorite broth.
Recipe with Coconut Oil
For more protection, most recipes recommend a mixture of baking soda, coconut oil, and other ingredients. A basic recipe starts with 1/4 cup coconut oil and 4 teaspoons of baking soda. Coconut oil has extra bacteria-fighting properties that keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthier, boosting the power of baking soda.
Depending on your dog’s preferences, you might be able to get away with baking soda and coconut oil alone. However, you could add a cube of beef bouillon to make it more palatable for your dog. Adding a few leaves of mint freshens your dog’s breath, but you might need to check out your local spice store if you don’t have it in your pantry. Throw it all together in a blender, then blend the ingredients until you have a paste. The coconut oil in this recipe might make it a little runny.
Recipe with Herbs and Spices
When you want to get fancy, some recipes include a mixture of herbs and spices. The recipe starts with a base of 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon. For more flavoring, you could add a 1/2 teaspoon of broth or bouillon. Other options include mint or parsley leaves for extra fresh breath.
The ingredients might sound a little unusual, but salt and cinnamon have a gritty texture that erodes plaque buildup and scrubs your dog’s teeth. You could add salt to your dog’s toothpaste without the herbs if you want to keep it simple.
Which Ingredients Can You Add to Dog Toothpaste?
Want to come up with your own recipe? Here are some safe ingredients that you could add to your DIY dog toothpaste:
- Peanut butter
- Vegetarian bouillon
Before you give your dog peanut butter, check the ingredients to make sure it’s safe for your dog. Some brands have artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that dogs can’t eat. To be safe, you might want to buy peanut butter specifically made for dogs.
How Do You Store Dog Toothpaste?
To keep your DIY dog toothpaste fresh, store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Make the toothpaste in small batches so you don’t waste any. Of course, you might burn through it quicker if you have a whole pack of dogs at home.
Can You Add Any Herb to Your Dog’s Toothpaste?
These recipes aren’t set in stone. If one variety doesn’t work for your dog, try a different mix of ingredients and flavors. However, not every spice, herb, and the ingredient is safe for dogs. Do some research before you mix anything in your dog’s toothpaste— they might not be eating it, but it could still cause a reaction. Garlic and onion powder are particularly harmful to dogs.
Beef and chicken bouillon are safe for dogs, but some brands carry harmful spices like onion or garlic powder. Check the ingredients before you give your dog anything that’s not a raw herb, spice, or ingredient. Some commercial products sneak in spices and additives that could make your dog sick.
How Much Toothpaste Does Your Dog Need?
Just like humans, dogs only need a pea-sized amount to clean their teeth. If you include baking soda in your toothpaste, don’t give your dog more than that— otherwise, they might suffer from baking soda toxicity.
Can You Buy Commercial Dog Toothpaste?
Buying commercial dog toothpaste is always an option. It might be a little pricier, but it’s made from safe ingredients that keep your dog’s teeth clean. Commercial toothpaste comes in dog-friendly flavors like vanilla, chicken, and peanut butter. You can check your local pet store or buy dog toothpaste from an online retailer.
Does Your Dog Need a Special Toothbrush?
You could try to use a regular toothbrush, but it probably won’t reach every tooth in your dog’s mouth. Dog toothbrushes are specially shaped to scrub your dog’s teeth and gums. Pick up a regular toothbrush with a handle, or grab a finger toothbrush if you have trouble reaching inside your dog’s mouth. A finger toothbrush slips over your finger and has bristles mounted to the tip.
If you don’t have any other options, you could use a finger to brush your dog’s teeth. Just make sure you put on a pair of disposable gloves to protect yourself and your dog.
What About Dental Chews?
Dental treats and chews aren’t a replacement for brushing your dog’s teeth, but they could still be part of their hygiene routine. Dental chews have a hard, gritty texture that breaks up plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth. These chews come in dog-friendly flavors like beef and peanut butter so your dog will enjoy chewing on these treats. Buy a bag from the pet store, or order one online— just make sure you keep brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.
How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
Many owners wonder how often to brush a dog’s teeth. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a day. If you can’t manage that, at least brush their teeth a few times a week. Try to reach every tooth and scrub each side for at least thirty seconds. Scrub the insides of their cheeks as well as their teeth and gums.
What if Your Dog Hates Getting Their Teeth Brushed?
You want to keep your dog’s teeth clean, but you don’t want to make them miserable in the process. Try adding different flavorings to the toothpaste, like peanut butter or chicken beef bouillon. When you’re done, give your pet a dog treat and affection to reward them for their patience. You might want to start with short cleanings before you graduate to cleaning your dog’s entire mouth. Overall, the key is getting your dog to associate their cleanings with positive sensations instead of negative ones.
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Dog’s Teeth?
Until your dog’s teeth start falling out, you might be tempted to give them a dental chew and call it a day. However, neglecting their dental hygiene could have a major impact on their health. Here’s what could happen if you don’t clean your dog’s teeth:
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Loose teeth
- Sores and abscesses
- Tooth infections
- Inflammed gums
- Pain and difficulty eating
- Bad breath
- Bacterial infections
A bacterial infection isn’t just bad for your dog’s teeth. The bacteria could enter your dog’s bloodstream and travel to their heart, liver, or another major organ. Bacterial infections require extensive treatment and could result in death if they’re not caught in time.
Just like treats, dog food, and dog ear cleaners, you can make homemade dog toothpaste with ingredients that you already have at home. You’ll know exactly what goes in your dog’s toothpaste and won’t have to worry about extra chemicals or additives. Plus, a basic recipe requires only two ingredients: baking soda and water. Add coconut oil for extra protection, and experiment with different herbs like mint and parsley.
If possible, brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a day. Otherwise, a few brushings a week help your dog maintain good dental hygiene. Your dog might not like regular brushings at first, but it’s better than spending hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for a full veterinary cleaning. Save time and money by taking a proactive approach to your dog’s health instead of waiting for one of their teeth to fall out.
Is Baking Soda Safe for Dogs?
Including a small amount of baking soda in your dog’s toothpaste is perfectly safe. Just make sure you don’t give them more than the recipe recommends. Otherwise, your dog could suffer from baking soda toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity include diarrhea, seizures, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Your dog could die from toxicity if you don’t get them to the vet.
Can You Give Your Dog Human Toothpaste?
Never give your dog human toothpaste. Human toothpaste is loaded with chemicals, additives, and ingredients that might be harmful to your dog. Additionally, the cold, minty taste might not be appetizing for your dog. Most dogs prefer meaty flavors like beef and chicken or savory flavors like peanut butter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use human toothpaste on dogs?
Never use human toothpaste on your dog. Human toothpaste is made from various chemicals, minerals, and ingredients that could make your dog sick. Some ingredients are even deadly for dogs. Instead of using human toothpaste, make your own toothpaste at home or buy a premade dog toothpaste.
What can I use to brush my dog’s teeth?
Use a dog toothbrush to brush your dog’s teeth. Unlike human toothbrushes, dog toothbrushes are made specifically for your dog’s teeth and gums. You could use your finger to brush their teeth, but make sure you put on a pair of gloves first. For toothpaste, make your own at home or buy a commercial brand of dog toothpaste!