Alternatives to Brushing Teeth

My dog won’t let me brush their teeth. What else can I do?

It is quite common for owners to say that their dog won’t let them brush their teeth, or even look in their mouth. Unfortunately, without proper oral care, our pets can often suffer from plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth. Many owners don’t even realize how important oral health care for their pets really is. I mean, if we think about it, if we didn’t brush our own teeth or go to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, we would have a lot of dental problems too. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is the best thing you can do for the best oral health. However, some dogs don’t like the idea of a toothbrush and toothpaste in their mouth. So what else can you do? Here are some other alternatives to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy:

  • Dental cleaning under anesthesia
    • If your pet’s teeth have a lot of plaque and tartar buildup, they may require a dental cleaning at your veterinary clinic to remove any existing tartar and any teeth that are no longer viable. After a dental cleaning, you may choose to do any of the other options to help maintain good oral health.
  • Annual veterinary exams to check dental health and monitor progression of dental disease.
  • Oral Chews
    • Rawhide chews: make sure you are buying a rawhide chew that is not made in a foreign country, as those companies tend to use chemicals during the manufacturing process, that may be unsafe for your pet). Some rawhide chews are available with enzymes on them, that helps break down any plaque on your dog’s teeth.
    • Whimzees dental chews (made from plants, good for dogs that have dietary protein sensitivities).
    • Pizzle sticks or dried tendons
  • Chew Toys
    • Rope toys
  • Water Additives
    • You can add liquid additives to your pet’s water, that helps break down plaque and reduce bad breath odours.
  • Dietary Additives
    • There are also a few dietary additives that help reduces plaque and tartar build up such as “Plaque Off.”

As with any oral chew, it is important always to monitor your dog and choose an appropriate size chew, based on your dog’s size. If your dog tends to bite off large pieces and swallow them whole, a dental chew may not be safe for your dog to have, as large pieces that are swallowed whole can have a potential to cause an obstruction. If your dog has a fairly advanced dental disease or has other health conditions, ask your veterinarian if it is safe to use any of the above alternatives to brushing.

Written by Brittney, ACA


Dog with mouth open and human inspecting its mouth with a magnifying glass

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Last updated: December 17, 2020

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With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective September 28th, 2020 we have made some important updates to our operating policies.


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