10 Best Ways To Clean Dog Teeth Without Brushing At Home

If you're a loving pet parent, you know how tough it can be to wield a toothbrush on your furry friend's chompers. But did you know that 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by the age of three (1)? Luckily, this article will guide you through safe and stress-free alternatives to give your dog an award winning smile without invasive treatments.

Alternatives to Clean Teeth Without Brushing

Taking care of your dog's teeth is crucial for their overall well-being, but let's face it—brushing isn't always the most practical or well-received option. Whether your dog is skittish about the brush or your busy schedule makes regular brushing difficult, you're not out of options. There are plenty of effective ways to clean dog teeth without resorting to a toothbrush.

In the sections that follow, we'll explore a variety of these alternatives. From edible dental treats that clean while they chew, to water additives that tackle bad breath, and even to high-tech dental toys that do the scrubbing for you — each of these methods offers a unique set of benefits. So, if you're looking to diversify your approach to canine dental care, you're in the right place.


Seaweed is packed full of benefits for dogs and is a surprising but effective alternative to brushing your dog's teeth. Products derived from sea algae offer a unique approach to maintaining oral health for dogs, working naturally to reduce plaque and dissolve tartar buildup.

You can find various forms of seaweed-based dental products in the market - from powder additives meant for their food to edible treats. The secret lies in the bioactive properties of seaweeds that prevent bacteria from sticking onto surfaces (2), promoting cleaner teeth and freshened breath when used consistently.

Seaweed softens and dislodges plaque and tartar build up. It also freshens stinky dog breath. A brand like Caniclean naturally cleans a dog's teeth and gums with visible results in just 8 weeks.

Raw Bones

Served fresh or frozen, raw bones can play a vital role in keeping your dog's teeth clean. They not only provide a delicious and chewy treat but also work effectively to scrape off plaque and tartar from your pet's teeth (3).

Raw bones such as antlers, bully sticks and yak chews are ideal choices for this task. For smaller dogs, chicken wings and duck necks are a great option.

raw bones chicken wing for dogs

When choosing the right size of bone for your pooch, consider their breed and size. A large-sized bone would suit larger breeds while smaller options fit petite dogs. 

Chewing on these bones might remind you of wild carnivores who rely heavily on raw skin, meat, and even bones to maintain oral hygiene. It’s scientifically proven that gnawing on raw bones reduced bacteria on dogs' teeth by 79%.

Plus, introducing these into your dog's diet could be an excellent way to imitate nature’s dental care routine without needing physical brushing — just ensure you're always present during chew sessions to prevent any potential choking hazards. Also, make sure you avoid very hard bones that may chip or break your dog's teeth.

Quick tip: A combination of Caniclean seaweed and the abrasion from raw bones is our favorite approach to dog teeth cleaning. The seaweed softens and loosens the plaque build-up and the abrasion from chewing the bones makes it fall right off.

Dog Chews

Dog chews are a popular alternative to brushing your dog's teeth and can be highly effective at improving oral hygiene. These specially designed dental chews help reduce plaque and tartar, preventing the development of gum disease and tooth decay.

By encouraging chewing, these treats help scrape away food particles and stimulate saliva production, which naturally cleanses the mouth. Look for dental chews that have been recommended by experts for their effectiveness in reducing plaque buildup.

Incorporating these chews into your dog's daily routine can contribute to maintaining good oral hygiene without the need for toothpaste.

Sprays and Gels

A great alternative to brushing your dog's teeth is using sprays and gels designed specifically for oral health. These products can be applied directly into your dog's mouth, helping to maintain their oral hygiene without the need for a toothbrush.

Sprays and gels contain ingredients that help soften plaque on the teeth, reducing the risk of dental issues such as periodontal disease. Additionally, some of these products are formulated with natural antibacterial properties, like coconut oil, which can keep your dog's gums and teeth healthy.

Using sprays and gels is an effective way to clean your dog's teeth while providing them with the essential care they need to prevent bad breath and promote good dental health.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another natural and effective alternative to brushing your dog's teeth. It contains antimicrobial properties (4) that can kill bacteria and break down plaque and calculus on your furry friend's teeth.

Rubbing coconut oil on their teeth and gums can help reduce the buildup of plaque-causing bacteria, leading to better oral health for your pet. In fact, studies have shown that coconut oil can even help reduce gingivitis in dogs.

To clean your dog's teeth with coconut oil, simply apply it using your finger in a circular motion. This will help remove food particles, freshen their breath, and contribute to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

coconut oil treats for dogs Coconut oil can also be added to treats

Chew Toys

Chew toys are a popular and effective way to clean your dog's teeth without the need for brushing. Not only do they satisfy your dog's natural urge to chew, but they can also help remove tartar and plaque on their teeth.

When your dog chews on these toys, it promotes saliva production, which helps wash away bacteria and food particles that can lead to dental issues. Additionally, certain chew toys are designed with ridges or bristles that provide an added benefit of scraping away plaque while your dog chews.

Regular use of chew toys can contribute to good oral hygiene and healthier teeth in dogs.

Dental Treats

Dental treats are a handy way to keep your dog's teeth clean without the need to brush their teeth. These specially formulated treats are designed to lessen the build up of plaque and tartar, promoting good oral hygiene in dogs.

Some dental treats even contain anti-plaque agents that create a protective barrier on your dog's teeth. Vets often recommend dental treats as an alternative to brushing for maintaining healthy teeth and gums in dogs.

With a wide variety of flavors and textures available, you can find the perfect dental treat that your dog will love while also helping to prevent dental diseases

Water Additives

Water additives are an easy way to help clean your dog's teeth without a toothbrush. These additives, which can be added directly to your dog's water bowl, act like mouthwash for dogs, helping control plaque and tartar buildup.

By breaking down plaque and minerals in their mouths, these additives contribute to maintaining their oral hygiene. Some water additives are recommended by veterinarians and even approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) (5).

This means they have undergone rigorous testing and meet high standards of effectiveness. With water additives, you can improve your dog's breath and overall dental health effortlessly, making it a great solution for pet owners struggling with regular teeth brushing.

Healthy Fruits, Veggies, and Treats

Including fresh and healthy fruits, vegetables, and treats in your dog's diet can provide a natural way to clean their teeth without the need for brushing. These alternatives not only offer a tasty snack but also help freshen breath and improve overall dental health.

Dogs love to eat pumpkin

Crunchy fruits and veggies like carrots, apples, celery, and small pieces of broccoli are excellent choices due to their vitamins and dental benefits. Feeding your furry friend these nutritious snacks not only satisfies their taste buds but also promotes good oral hygiene.

Additionally, giving them dental-specific treats designed to clean teeth can be an effective addition to their dental care routine.

Dental Wipes

Dental wipes are another popular alternative to maintain your dog's dental health. These pre-soaked wipes contain ingredients like baking soda or chlorhexidine, which can kill bacteria and help to keep their teeth clean.

Unlike a toothbrush, dental wipes are easy to use and less likely to cause discomfort for your furry friend. 

These gentle yet efficient wipes help keep your dog's teeth clean and their breath fresh, ensuring good oral health in a simple and hassle-free way.

Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs

Early detection of dental disease in dogs is crucial for their overall health and well-being. While bad breath may seem like a common occurrence in dogs, it can actually be one of the first signs of dental problems.

Additionally, yellow tartar buildup on their teeth and red, swollen gums are indications that your dog may have periodontal disease (6).

Dental disease in dogs can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. Gum infections, tooth loss, and even systemic infections are all potential consequences of neglected oral hygiene.

It is important for dog owners to regularly inspect their pet's mouth and look for these signs as they could indicate underlying dental problems.

periodontal disease in dogs

Fortunately, with proper care and attention, many cases of dental disease in dogs can be prevented or managed effectively. There are many easy ways and home remedies to look after their teeth without spending a fortune. For really stubborn cases, professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian, is an option but these can be avoided if you take the right precautionary steps.

Remember that older dogs may require specialized treatments to address any existing oral health issues they have developed over time.

By being aware of the signs of dental disease in dogs and seeking timely veterinary care when needed, you can ensure that your four-legged companion maintains healthy teeth and gums throughout their life.

The Cost of Professional Dog Dental Cleaning

The cost of maintaining your dog's dental health can vary widely, ranging from $170 to $350 for a basic cleaning by a general veterinarian. However, if you opt for specialized care from a board-certified veterinary dentist, the price can soar up to $4,000, especially if additional procedures are involved. It's worth noting that a veterinary dentist brings an extra layer of expertise, having earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine and undergone specialized training in dental care for animals (7).

Variables That Influence the Cost of Dental Care

  1. Type of Practitioner: The expertise of the person performing the cleaning can significantly impact the cost. A board-certified veterinary dentist will generally charge more than a general veterinarian due to their specialized training.
  2. Scope of the Procedure: The complexity of the dental work required also plays a role in the overall cost. A straightforward tartar removal will be less expensive than a comprehensive dental examination that includes X-rays and ultrasonic cleaning.
  3. Preliminary Assessments: Some veterinary clinics mandate a series of diagnostic tests, such as full X-rays, before proceeding with the dental cleaning. These tests add to the overall cost.
  4. Health Status of the Dog: Older dogs or those with existing health conditions may require additional tests and monitoring, thereby increasing the cost of the procedure.
  5. Severity of Dental Issues: The condition of your dog's teeth can also affect the cost. Extensive dental deterioration will necessitate more intensive treatments, driving up the overall expense.

Final Thoughts on Simplified Canine Dental Care

Maintaining your dog's dental health doesn't have to be a stressful or costly endeavor. There are numerous effective alternatives to traditional brushing that can keep your pet's mouth fresh and healthy. From the natural benefits of seaweed and raw bones to the convenience of food supplements and dental treats, these options offer a hassle-free way to combat plaque and ensure good oral hygiene.

Moreover, sprays and gels, coconut oil, chew toys, and water additives provide additional avenues for dental care that are both easy to administer and well-received by dogs. While periodic visits to the vet for dental cleanings are advisable, these alternative methods can significantly reduce the frequency and extent of professional cleanings needed.

By embracing these simple yet effective solutions, you can contribute to your dog's long-term health and happiness without breaking the bank or adding stress to your routine.


How effective are dental wipes for cleaning a dog's teeth?

Dental wipes are very effective way for cleaning a dog's teeth if used regularly. They are specially designed with textured surfaces that help remove plaque and food debris from the teeth and gums.

Are dental chews safe for dogs?

Yes, dental chews are safe for dogs. However, it is important to choose high-quality products that are appropriate for your dog's size and breed. Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new treats.

How can I get plaque off my dog's teeth without brushing?

To get plaque off your dog's teeth without brushing, you can use seaweed, raw bones, wipes and water additives as well as a number of other healthy and safe alternatives to brushing. These methods are convenient and can significantly improve your pet's oral health.

What can I use to clean my dog's teeth naturally?

To clean your dog's teeth naturally, you can use seaweed, raw bones, coconut oil, or a homemade paste made from baking soda and water. These options are chemical-free and can help reduce plaque and improve oral health.


1. VCA Animal Hospitals. (n.d.). Dental Disease in Dogs. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs
2. Mar Drugs. (2016). Antimicrobial Action of Compounds from Marine Seaweed. Marine Drugs, 14(3), 52. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820306/
3. Aust Vet J. (2016). Raw beef bones as chewing items to reduce dental calculus in Beagle dogs. Australian Veterinary Journal, 94(1-2), 18-23. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26814157/
4. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. (2016). Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 6(5), 447–452. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109859/
5. Veterinary Oral Health Council. (2017). VOHC® Accepted Products for Dogs. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://www.animaldentalclinicnw.com/pdfs/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Dogs.pdf
6. McCalley, E., DVM. (2021, February 8). Periodontal (Gum) Disease in Dogs. PetMD. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/mouth/c_multi_periodontal_disease
7. American Veterinary Dental College. (n.d.). What is a Board Certified Veterinary Dentist? Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://avdc.org/what-is-a-veterinary-dentist/