Little did I know when I started looking for the best dog toothpaste that it would send me on days of researching. If we are being honest, I don’t brush my dogs’ teeth as often as I should. Okay…. I never brush my dogs’ teeth. I’ve had good intentions many times, but always fail to be consistent. But that is all about to change!
With so many options, finding the best dog toothpaste is not an easy task. From all natural to organic to vet recommended… how do we know which toothpaste is the best for our dogs?
And because I am a perpetual ingredient researcher… well I found that the majority of dog toothpaste list sorbitol (sugar alcohol) as the FIRST ingredient. Why does toothpaste need sugar at all? Good question.
If you want to make a DIY dog toothpaste, most recipes include baking soda, and according to the VCA hospital, that could be dangerous too.
So what is a dog parent to do? Do you skip brushing your dog’s teeth altogether and hope for the best? Do you rely on dental chews or maybe a water additive?
Something to think about: Did you know your dog’s diet directly affects their oral hygiene? The higher quality of food, the better for their teeth. Does your dog’s food have sugar in it? We feed our dogs a very high-quality dry kibble, but many raw-fed dog owners swear that their dogs’ teeth are clean and healthy because of their raw diet.
Ingredients to avoid in your dog’s toothpaste
When you have a dog with allergies, reading labels becomes a necessity. But everyone should be aware of what their dogs are consuming. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, these are the ingredients you should avoid in your dog’s toothpaste:
- Artificial sweeteners like dextrose, sodium saccharin, and sorbitol
- Artificial colors
- Artificial flavors
- Phosphoric acid
- Potassium thiocyanate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
Admittedly, some of the best dog toothpaste I found have one or two of these ingredients. I have highlighted them in red so you can decide for yourself.
What ingredients to look for in a toothpaste
With the help of Dr. Maureen K. Murithi (a remote veterinary consultant for DoggieDesigner.com), here are three ingredients your dog’s toothpaste SHOULD include:
Silica has abrasive properties which help to scrape off the tartar from dogs’ teeth. Moreover, the tiny particles do not traumatize or injure the dogs delicate gums as it polishes the teeth.
Enzymes such as glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase help to oxidize bacteria in the mouth which helps to keep microorganisms at a bare minimum. Glucose oxidase helps to reduce bacterial growth and consequently tartar build-up while lactoperoxidase acts synergistically to prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth keeping it at a minimum.
Emulsifiers such as tetra potassium phosphate help to break down tartar during brushing.
I have highlighted these ingredients in green in the below recommendations.
The very best dog toothpastes
Let’s dig into the best dog toothpaste. I have tested all of these toothpastes with each of my dogs, so the before and after photos are actual results of my dogs teeth.
#1 TOP PICK
Enzymatic toothpaste for dogs
Ingredients: Sorbitol, Dicalcium Phosphate, Water, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, Poultry Digest, Dextrose, Xanthan Gum, Acidified Calcium Sulfate, Disodium Phosphate Duohydrate, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract.
I started brushing our yellow lab’s teeth (left side only) with this toothpaste and toothbrush on July 20th, 2021. The after photos were taken 6 weeks after, on August 31.
We brushed almost daily, missing a few days here and there. This was the most impressive before/after out of the 4 toothpastes we tested.
I love the 360° toothbrush, although I feel it would be too large for smaller dogs.
Even though his teeth still have a lot of plague, it shows signs of reducing the yellowing. This is only 6 weeks of brushing, so I am optimistic that it will continue to improve as we brush every day.
Virbac dog toothpaste
Ingredients: Sorbitol, dicalcium phosphate anhydrous, purified water, hydrated silica, glycerin, dextrose, xanthan gum, vanillin, titanium dioxide, sodium benzoate, methyl salicylate, potassium thiocyanate, glucose oxidase (aspergillus niger), and lactoperoxidase.
I started brushing Ginger’s teeth (left side only) with this toothpaste and toothbrush on July 20th.The after photos were taken 6 weeks after, on August 31.
The before pictures turned out a little blurry, and she doesn’t have a lot of plague build up, so it’s difficult to say 100%, but her teeth do look slightly better. We brushed almost daily, missing a few days here and there.
I choseVirbac C.E.T. toothpaste for Ginger because of her allergies, and this toothpaste has no protein that I have to worry about.
Dog toothpaste without Sorbitol
The difference between glycerin and sorbitol is that glycerin is (organic compound) while sorbitol is (organic chemistry) a sugar alcohol.
Ingredients: Glycerin, Aloe, Pectin, Neem Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), Glucose, Oxidase (Enzymes), and Natural Flavors.
We were lucky to have a Rescue Dogs 101 community member help us out with testing the Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste with her dog, Ray. Below are his before and after photos.
Ray’s teeth were in really in nice condition even before starting the trial. Ray’s mom noted the biggest difference in her testing was the dogs breath got noticeably better with consistent brushing.
Best organic dog toothpaste
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin*, Guar Gum*, Sweet Potato Powder*, Rice Powder*, Sunflower Seed Oil*, Lecithin, Coconut Oil*, Papaya Fruit Extract*, Olive Leaf Extract*, Fennel Seed Extract*, Laminaria Digitata Extract*, Cinnamon Powder*, Sodium Chloride, Peppermint Indian Leaf Oil*, Clove Bud Flower Oil*, Thyme Leaf Oil*, Stevia Rebaudiana Extract Powder*, Citric Acid, Xanthan gum.
I started brushing Ginger’s teeth (right side only) with this toothpaste on July 20th.The after photos were taken 6 weeks after, on August 31.
Ginger’s teeth don’t have a lot of plague build up, but I think her teeth look slightly better. We brushed almost daily, missing only a few days here and there.
I love thisRADIUS Organic Canine Toothpaste Kit. The fact that it’s organic and I can read every single ingredient is a huge bonus. And the toothbrush is the perfect size for a small to medium dog, and it comes with a nice storage case.
This toothpaste is a little thinner than the others, but it’s an easy tradeoff for it having all natural ingredients.
Vet recommended dog toothpaste
Ingredients: Carbopol 934P, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Phosphoric Acid, Cetylpyridinium Chloride.
We were lucky to have a Rescue Dogs 101 community member help us out with testing the PetSmile Pet Toothpaste with her dog, Lana. Below are her before and after photos.
Lana’s teeth were in really in nice condition even before starting the trial. Lana’s mom noted the biggest difference in her testing was the dogs breath got noticeably better with consistent brushing.
Natural DIY dog toothpaste
Here is an all-natural recipe provided by Dr. Maureen K. Murithi (a remote veterinary consultant for DoggieDesigner.com):
- Coconut oil (1/4 cup)
- Baking soda (3 tablespoons)
- Fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
Additives such as parsley or mint leaves may be added for fresher breath (use a food processor). Chicken/beef/vegetable bullion (1/2 teaspoon) can also be added for additional flavor for easier uptake.
There is some controversy about using baking soda in your dog’s toothpaste. But using a small amount has been proven to be safe. Dr. Michelle Burch (Safe Hounds Pet Insurance) would like you to be aware that baking soda can change the mouth’s pH, and possibly cause gastrointestinal upset.
How often should you brush your dog’s teeth?
According to the VCA Hospital website, we should be brushing our dog’s teeth at least twice daily. Brushing three times a week is the minimum recommendation to help remove plaque and prevent tartar accumulation.
I aim to brush my dogs teeth once a day, every day. I may miss a day occasionally, which is one reason I decided to use other methods to clean my dogs teeth without needing to brush them every single day.
How to clean dog teeth without brushing
Dr. Linda Simon, a Consulting Veterinarian at FiveBarks, tells me if your dog does not tolerate tooth brushing, don’t despair! Other things that we can do to help include:
- Feed dry kibble food instead of wet food
- Offer a prescription diet that targets dental health
- Use a gel or spray that is rubbed on the surface of the teeth to reduce plaque formation
- Provide water additives which aim to reduce plaque formation and freshen breath
- Have regular dental checks and schedule dental cleanings when advised by your vet
The best dental water additive for dogs
According to Dr. Maureen K. Murithi (a remote veterinary consultant for DoggieDesigner.com), “water additives should NOT be a substitute for teeth brushing. However, they offer additional benefits such as fresher breath, reduce bacterial growth, fight plaque and prevent tartar build-up.”
You can make a homemade dog water additive with a few drops of food-grade peppermint oil or Apple Cider Vinegar.
The best water additive for dogs I found is Pets Are Kids Too Premium Dog & Cat Dental Spray & Water Additive. It has the most natural ingredients that I can pronounce. And while it still has a sugar additive (Stevia), it’s the last ingredient on the list, which means it is very minimal.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Peppermint Flavor, Spearmint Flavor, Glycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Baking Soda, Aloe Vera Extract, Stevia.
The runner-up is Oxyfresh Dog & Cat Oral Hygiene Solution, which we have used and did see a noticeable difference in our dogs’ teeth.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Chlorite (Oxygene), Zinc Acetate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex.
The best dog dental spray
I love that TruDog offers so many natural products that I can trust to keep my dogs happy and healthy.
TruDog Spray Me Natural Dental Spray instructions say all you have to do is spray this on your dogs teeth 1-2 times a day.
We tested this on our dog Bear, whom has the most plaque build up on his teeth. Our dog Thunder is pictured above, I’m still attempting to train him to allow me to spray inside his mouth… he’s a bit less cooperative than Bear.
I started spraying Bear’s teeth (right side only) with Spray Me on July 20th, 2021. I sprayed his right side of his mouth once a day.The after photos were taken 6 weeks after, on August 31.
Well… after 6 weeks of almost daily spraying, I was shocked to see Bear’s after photos, his canine’s appear to have gotten worse NOT better after only usingSpray Me!
I am not giving up just yet. I plan on continuing the spray in addition to brushing his teeth.
Spray Me is formulated with all-natural, holistic ingredients including:
- Grape Seed Extract helps prevent dental plaque and mitigate oral and gum diseases. Grapefruit Seed Extract which is high in vitamin C, E, and bioflavonoid, is excellent at alkalizing body fluids, reduces periodontal inflammation, detoxifies, enhances, and supports immune function.
- Peppermint Oil which makes very potent antiseptic properties, helps battle bad breath bacteria, contains omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
- Rosemary Oil helps prevent plaque from adhering and is a natural enzyme that helps fight bad breath.
- Neem Seed Oil helps prevent bacteria from adhering to teeth. Helps prevent and reverse gum disease and acts as a natural breath freshener with antibacterial properties.
- Thyme Oil which helps to control pathogenic organisms which can be responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath with natural antimicrobial properties.
The best dental chews for dogs
Dental chews are by far the easiest, most enjoyable oral care for your dog. They get a special treat while cleaning their teeth and you don’t have to do anything but hand them the dental chew.
Make sure to read ingredient labels for any dental chew you choose. Some of the big brands have so many ingredients I can’t even pronounce! Stay clear of any color additives, I’m looking at you Pedigree Dentastix. Shame on you for adding Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5.
I haven’t found a dental chew my dogs don’t like. But I like to stick with the limited ingredient dental chews. Hands down, our favorite dental chews are WHIMZEES. These are perfect for our “allergic to everything” dog.
Ingredients: Potato Starch, Glycerin, Powdered Cellulose, Lecithin, Dried Yeast, Malt Extract, Sweet Lupin Meal, Alfalfa Extract, Paprika Extract.
We also like to treat the dogs with braided bully sticks. The Best Bully Sticks brand is great, one ingredient and the dogs go crazy for them. The braided last longer than regular bully sticks.
The best dog toothbrush
Now that you hopefully have chosen the best toothpaste for your dog, you need a good toothbrush to brush his teeth with.
It’s important to match the size of your dog and the size of the toothbrush. For a small dog, you may want to use a finger toothbrush, a baby toothbrush, or even a simple strip of gauze.
Make sure to clean the toothbrush after each use. It is also recommended for each dog to have their own toothbrush so not to spread any infections from one dog to the other.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every 6 months at the very least. Get a new toothbrush for your dog as soon as you notice any bristols getting worn out or loose.
With the 360° brush it’s easy to get all around the teeth. I found when brushing my dogs teeth, it was brushing the bottom and top canines at the same time which is a great time saver. This toothbrush is best for large dogs.
Some reviews complain about the red tip of the brush falling off. I tried to pull ours off and can’t. So I recommend checking your brush each time before using on your dog.
With the long handle and two sized brushes it is versatile for small and big dogs. It’s a little more expensive than some other dog toothbrushes, but the quality is worth a little extra cash.
Best dog toothbrush kit
If you prefer a kit instead of buying the toothpaste and brush separately, then these two dog toothbrush kits are the best.
This is my top pick for the best dog toothpaste and toothbrush. See the before/after photos above.
I like this kit for our large (85 lb.) yellow lab, Bear. The brush is huge compared to others, which is great for his big teeth. The toothbrush has bristols all around which makes it easy to cover large canine teeth.
Even though this kit does supply a finger tip brush, the plastic is stiffer than I’d like. If you have a small dog, there is a small end of the toothbrush. But you may be better off finding a smaller toothbrush like the one included in the Radius Kit below.
The Radius Kit comes with a really nice plastic carrying case. I love the size of the toothbrush for our medium 55 lb. dog, Ginger. And the fact that this toothpaste is organic is a huge plus.
The toothpaste is perfect for dogs with food allergies. It contains no beef or chicken protein for flavoring that many others do. See the ingredient list along with the before/after photos above.
How to brush your dog’s teeth – the right way!
Dr. Michelle Burch (Safe Hounds Pet Insurance) tells us the proper way to brush your dog’s teeth.
“I recommend using proper technique when brushing your dog’s teeth to ensure all essential surfaces contact the toothbrush. Gently pull the upper lip of your dog upward, which will expose their tooth. Move the toothbrush in a back-and-forth motion while pressing the brush to the outer surface of the upper teeth and gum line. The bristles should remain below the gumline.
After brushing the upper teeth, then move to the lower teeth and use the same motion. Repeat for the opposite side of the mouth. Once the molars and pre-molars have been cleaned move on to the canines and incisors in the front of the mouth.”
Don’t forget to clean the toothbrush after each use.
You should be brushing your dog’s teeth every day, or at least every other day. This seems like a big undertaking, especially if you have multiple dogs like me. But it takes one minute to brush their teeth.
And it could save your dog from bad breath, gum disease, and other health issues that come with bad oral care.
Choose a toothpaste that has limited ingredients and one that your dog likes the taste of. The size of the toothbrush matters… use a dog toothbrush that fits your dogs mouth and that feels comfortable in your hand.
Fun tip: I started setting an alarm on my phone to remind me to brush my dog’s teeth. That way I won’t ever forget.
Adding a water additive or dental spray and treating your dog with dental chews can step up your battle for clean teeth and fresh breath. But these should not be used by themselves. Multi-tear dental solutions will give you the best results.