Are you having trouble keeping your dog’s bad breath in check? It can be hard to maintain oral hygiene for your canine buddy, and it’s a very common problem. Don’t stress about it, because we’ve taken the time to research the best dog teeth cleaning hacks for you.

The Reason Your Dog’s Breath Stinks

Reason Your Dog’s Breath Stinks

If you think about it, it’s common to hear that a dog has bad breath. One of the primary reasons is that most pet owners neglect their pet’s oral hygiene. Very few brush their dog’s teeth daily—and then they are surprised that dog breath stinks! 

Make sure you brush their teeth every day.

Dog Teeth Cleaning Hacks

The following are the best dog cleaning hacks we could find after our extensive research. Mix and match to find which one works best for you.

#1 Raw Fruits & Vegetables

There is some scientific evidence that suggests raw fruits and veggies contain enzymes that help with your dog’s oral hygiene and health. Offer your dog crunchy foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, etc—they’ll help remove some of the plaque build-up and they’re also rich in digestive enzymes that protect their teeth.

#2 Turmeric for Dogs Alleviates Bad Breath

That bright yellow spice you’ve seen in the Indian spices section in the grocery store is good for more than just adding aromatics to your food. Turmeric for dogs is great because it has both antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that help reduce microbial activity on their teeth.

#3 Can Dogs Eat Parsley for Dental Health?

Parsley contains a lot of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants), which has been proven to be antibacterial and is traditionally used to freshen up the breath after a meal. Can dogs eat parsley? Yes, they can—in fact, most pet nutritionists consider it to be a super-herb. And not just for its positive effect on a dog’s breath.

#4 Can Dogs Eat Mint for Their Bad Breath?

Can Dogs Eat Mint for Their Bad Breath?

Another common herb that can be used to freshen up doggie breath is mint. Can dogs eat mint? Yes, they can—so long as you keep it in small portions only. Too much mint can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system by causing liver and kidney problems. Stick to a few leaves now and then. 

NOTE: The only mint species you shouldn’t give dogs is the “English pennyroyal mint”

#5 Supplement Their Dog Food with L. Casei

Lactobacillus Casei is a probiotic that does wonders for your dog’s gut health. Not all dog bad breath causes are related to the teeth—sometimes the root of the problem is their digestive system. L. Casei will help in keeping the lining of their digestive system healthy. This also allows better absorption of calcium for better dental health. 

#6 Buy Some Dog Tooth Wipes

One of the easier dog cleaning hacks to buy dog tooth wipes—these are specially formulated to help you remove plaque buildup from your dog’s teeth without using a brush. Keep in mind that they aren’t as effective as brushing, but are useful if your pet isn’t a fan of brushing.

#7 Add Coconut Oil to Their Diet

Because it contains over 50% lauric acid, coconut oil has a multitude of benefits for your dog’s bad breath and more. You probably already know of the health benefits of coconut oil but you should also know that lauric acid in coconut oil helps prevent (and treat) gum disease in dogs. Most dogs like the flavor too.

#8 Dog Food Additives for Dental Health

You can find many additives that you can put in dog food that will help them maintain their dental health. Our favorite is PlaqueOff because its effects are twofold: it dissolves existing plaque and prevents new plaque buildup from forming on your dog’s teeth. Just sprinkle some in their bowl along with their regular food.

#9 Use Dental Treats as a Reward System

If your dog is particularly stubborn about their oral hygiene, consider using dental treats (like chews) as their reward while training them. They’ll be preoccupied with learning how to catch a ball while you sneak in some dental chews to help them keep their teeth clean. 

dog teeth cleaning hacks - treats
Photo by Bill Emrich

#10 Buy a Dental Finger Brush

Your dog may hate having a toothbrush in their mouth, but they might not mind your finger. One of the easiest dog teeth cleaning hacks is to use a dental finger brush. It’s a sleeve for your index finger with bristles to replicate a real brush. Use this often but keep in mind that it doesn’t replace a real brush. 

#11 Make Toothbrushing a Fun Routine From the Start

The best way to take the stress out of toothbrushing is to start when they’re a puppy. Getting them used to the routine will save you in the long run. How to get rid of puppy breath? Regular brushing, dental chews, and a good diet—are the three pillars of puppy dental hygiene. 

#12 Make the Switch to Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food mimics crunchy vegetables in that it scrapes plaque off the teeth. You can even find dry food that manufacturers have formulated specifically with canine dental health in mind. Our favorite kibble for dental care is Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care—it’s full of antioxidants, shaped perfectly for scraping plaque, and easy to digest. 

#13 Make all of Their Favorite Toys Good for Dental Health

There are toys specially designed for dental health. They’re generally chew toys that are more durable and are more textured so they can scrape your dog’s teeth. Try to choose most (if not all) of your dog’s toys with dental health in mind.

#14 Buy Some Oral Sprays or Gels

You can purchase oral sprays (or gels) with ingredients that can help clean your dog’s teeth. You can also make a homemade dog breath spray. Here’s how:

  • Mix parsley, mint, and apple cider vinegar with water in a pot.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for a few minutes (covered)
  • After cooling, add to a spray bottle and use accordingly.

#15 Gauze Soaked in Coconut Oil and Baking Soda

Baking soda is well-known as an all-purpose cleaner because it’s a gentle abrasive and it can neutralize acids. Combine it with coconut oil (see #7 above) and gauze and you’ve got a great dog teeth cleaning hack. While you’re playing with the dog, slip the gauze in and rub it against the teeth.

#16 Raw Bones Can Help if Your Dogs Breath Stinks

There’s a good reason that raw bones are traditionally used as chew toys. The hard exterior of the bones is ideal for rubbing against the teeth, scraping the plaque away from the surface, as well as in between teeth. Visit your local butcher, many sell beef bones for little to nothing.

dog teeth cleaning hacks - raw bones
Photo by Lucy Meadows

#17 Trick Your Dog with a Little Tug of War

While playing tug of war with their favorite toy, use the finger brush or gauze mentioned above to wipe their teeth while they’re distracted. Dogs are playful animals and so long as you’re calm they won’t suspect anything. Make sure to keep talking to them and distracting them during the process.

#18 Water Additives are Easy Dog Teeth Cleaning Hacks

While this is not one of our favorite dog teeth cleaning hacks, it’s worth a try. You can buy water additives which are chemicals you add to your dog’s water bowl that can act as a mouthwash for your dog. They can support dental health to an extent.

#19 An Easy Dog Bad Breath Remedy – Yogurt

Probiotics replace bad bacteria on teeth and in the gut. As a dog bad breath remedy, yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics that your dog will probably mind getting on board with. Just make sure you’re using sugar-free, flavor-free natural Greek yogurt to avoid any adverse effects for your dog.

#20 Add Some Cranberry Juice to Your Dog’s Diet

Your dog’s breath won’t stink so much if you can inhibit the growth of bacteria in their mouth. There is some evidence that cranberries (and their juice) contain chemicals that can help prevent and cure periodontal diseases by inhibiting bacterial growth on the surface of the teeth

#21 Try Adding Some Apple Cider Vinegar for Dog Breath

There are so many benefits we’ve found in apple cider vinegar for dog breath. Not only is it antimicrobial, but it also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. That means replacing the bad bacterial colonies on your dog’s teeth with good bacteria to help when your dog has bad breath.

#22 Making Specialty Ice Cubes for Dogs

It’s very easy to make dental care ice cubes for dogs. All you need to do is mix some of the raw ingredients we’ve mentioned (parsley, carrots, mint, yogurt, etc.) and freeze them in an ice cube tray. They make for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day, and they will help keep your dog’s teeth clean and fresh, all the while scraping plaque from their teeth.

#23 Coenzyme Q10 for Dogs will Improve Their Dental Health

Japanese studies have shown the dental benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for dogs—it can drastically inhibit the spread of periodontal inflammation in dogs. In other words, Coenzyme Q10 heals diseased gums, which is a major cause of bad breath in dogs. Add it to dog food every day for the best results.

#24 One of the easiest Dog Teeth Cleaning Hacks – Put Toothpaste On Their Favorite Chew Toy

Canine toothpaste is usually enzymatic and doesn’t necessarily need to be brushed on the teeth to work. Add the toothpaste to your dog’s favorite toy and you can achieve your goal: to get the toothpaste into their mouth! Just make sure it isn’t very visible or your dog will notice and might be put off. 

#25 Fennel Seeds As Breath Freshener

Humans have been using fennel as a breath freshener for centuries, and it works well for dogs too. In addition to eliminating odors, fennel seeds are vitamin-rich and will help in other ways. It’s also used to help relieve gas—an added bonus most dog owners will appreciate.

Do You Have Any Dog Teeth Cleaning Hacks We Didn’t List?

dog teeth cleaning hacks - smiling dog
Photo by Kat Smith

We’ve tried to go over all the dog teeth cleaning hacks we could find, based on a lot of research. Do you have any favorite dental hygiene hacks that worked for you and your dog that we haven’t mentioned? Mention them in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, check out our blog on how important it is to take care of your dog’s dental health.

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