April 11, 2024

Whew, what’s that smell? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question after your dog goes in for a smooch, it might be time to whip up one of these easy DIY dog toothpaste recipes.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends brushing dogs’ teeth daily, if possible, or at least several times per week to prevent things like bad breath, plaque buildup and broken or loose teeth. Despite that recommendation, a survey by pet care company Bark found that 70% of dog owners say they’ve never brushed their pet’s teeth.

Brushing your dog’s teeth isn’t complicated. It can be done easily with a dog-safe toothbrush or even by wrapping a small piece of gauze around your finger and gently rubbing the dog’s teeth and gums. Using a homemade dog toothpaste can make the experience even easier by adding health-promoting ingredients and giving your dog a tasty treat to keep them engaged in the process.

It’s safe and easy to make a DIY dog toothpaste with ingredients you probably already have around the house. To help you get started, here are six of the best homemade dog toothpaste recipes online and the dos and don’ts veterinarians want you to know before you give them a try.

What are safe ingredients to use in DIY dog toothpaste?

When you make a homemade toothpaste for dogs, the most important step is to ensure that every single ingredient is safe for your pet. Even though dogs need their teeth brushed almost as often as humans do, they can’t use a toothpaste that’s made for people. 

“Human toothpaste can contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener which is highly toxic to dogs,” says Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinarian and the veterinary consultant for Dog As Pet. “We also do not want to use fluoride in our dog’s toothpaste, for risk of toxicosis.”

Most DIY dog toothpaste recipes contain common household ingredients, like baking soda and coconut oil. Even though these ingredients are generally non-toxic, it’s important to know what role they play in dogs’ health and how to use them properly. 

“Your vet can help you determine which ingredients and products are best suited for your pet’s individual needs.”

— DR. PAULA SIMONS, VETERINARIAN

Here’s a quick breakdown of the five most common dog toothpaste ingredients, according to veterinarians:

  • Baking soda: Helps neutralize acid in the mouth to prevent tooth decay and bad breath, but can be abrasive and should be used in moderation to avoid damaging tooth enamel.
  • Bouillon or stock: Adds flavor to dog toothpaste, but cannot contain onion, garlic or monosodium glutamate (MSG), as these are toxic to dogs.
  • Coconut oil: Has antimicrobial properties and improves the taste of homemade dog toothpaste; however, it can upset dogs’ stomachs if consumed in large quantities. Olive oil is an acceptable substitution.
  • Aloe vera juice: Soothes gums and helps reduce plaque on teeth. To avoid illness and upset stomach, pets should never be given whole aloe vera leaves or allowed to ingest aloe vera in large quantities.
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide: Has antibacterial properties to eliminate plaque on teeth, but dogs should never consume more than is used for brushing as it can cause vomiting.

“Remember, every pet is different, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian before trying any new product or treatment,” says Dr. Paula Simons, a veterinarian and the staff veterinary consultant at K9 of Mine. “Your vet can help you determine which ingredients and products are best suited for your pet’s individual needs.”

“Brushing without toothpaste daily is also an effective way to brush your pup’s teeth,” adds Dr. Angie Krouse, a holistic veterinarian with Boulder Holistic Vet in Colorado.

Is it safe to use herbs in dog toothpaste?

Herbs are a popular addition to many DIY dog toothpastes, as they can freshen breath and help keep teeth and gums healthy. Certain herbs are safe in moderation, Simons says, but they may not be suitable for pets with sensitive stomachs, allergies or other medical conditions. 

With veterinary supervision, she says these three common herbs may be beneficial in dog toothpaste:

  • Parsley: Helps naturally freshen breath.
  • Turmeric: Has anti-inflammatory properties that can improve gum health.
  • Cinnamon: Has antibacterial properties that can help fight harmful mouth bacteria.

Fresh mint is also OK to use as a breath freshener, but remember that dogs have a stronger sense of smell than humans do, so use it sparingly. “Keep in mind that many dogs won’t be thrilled with the taste of mint,” Simons adds.

Homemade dog toothpaste recipes

1. Simple two-ingredient dog toothpaste

Dr. Simons recommends this easy dog toothpaste recipe for a gentle yet effective clean. “Baking soda plays a dual role in dog toothpaste,” she explains. “It provides friction that helps to remove plaque and tartar buildup, and it also has antibacterial properties that can help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. (or less) water

Directions

  • In a small bowl or cup, add water to baking soda until a paste forms.
  • Apply paste to toothbrush or gauze and clean gums and teeth gently.

“Coconut oil is a safe and natural ingredient to use in dog toothpaste, thanks to its antimicrobial properties.”

— DR. SIMONS

2. Cleansing coconut oil dog toothpaste 

Instead of sticking with plain water, nutritionist and popular pet care vlogger Rachel Fusaro adds coconut oil to her DIY dog toothpaste for a yummy taste and some extra nourishment.

As Dr. Simons explains, “Coconut oil is a safe and natural ingredient to use in dog toothpaste, thanks to its antimicrobial properties. It’s like a superhero for your dog’s teeth, fighting off bad bacteria and freshening breath all at once.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. organic coconut oil

Directions

  • In a small bowl or cup, mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda.
  • Stir until a paste forms.
  • Apply paste to toothbrush or gauze and clean gums and teeth gently.

3. Meaty clean beef-flavored dog toothpaste 

Dogs are more likely to submit to a toothbrushing session when the toothpaste is extra yummy. That’s why Kristy Butler, a golden retriever owner who runs the pet care blog Golden Daily Scoop, adds pet-safe seasonings and beef broth to her homemade dog toothpaste

To ensure her broth is free of potentially toxic ingredients, like onions and garlic, she boils it herself in the crockpot. You can also check your local grocery store for pet-safe broth or bouillon cubes.

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. beef broth
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil

Directions

  • Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix until combined.
  • Put into an airtight container until mixture sets and a paste forms.
  • Apply a small amount to a toothbrush to gently clean dog’s teeth and gums.
  • Store remaining toothpaste in the refrigerator for up to a week.

4. Soothing aloe vera teeth cleaning solution

Dr. Ihor Basko, a leading holistic veterinarian in Kauai, Hawaii, recommends cleaning dogs’ teeth with his homemade aloe vera cleaning solution. When applied topically, he says, these ingredients work together to dissolve plaque and reduce inflammation.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. aloe vera juice
  • 2 oz. 3% hydrogen peroxide

Directions

  • In a small bowl, mix equal parts aloe vera and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Apply mixture to a cotton ball and gently rub against dog’s gums and teeth.
  • If needed, a small amount of baking soda may also be added to freshen breath.

5. Nutritious kelp and turmeric dog toothpaste

For a nutrient-rich toothpaste that will have dogs excited for tooth-brushing time, try adding a bit of kelp, suggests animal behaviorist and training expert Sarah-Jane White. She shared this kelp toothpaste recipe for dogs on her popular pet care blog Ruffle Snuffle

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. pet safe bouillon or stock
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. kelp powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in an airtight jar container.
  • Pop into the refrigerator for one hour to firm.
  • Move mixture to icing bag for easy and hygienic dispensing.
  • Apply a small amount to toothbrush to gently clean gums and teeth.
  • Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Note: Kelp powder will make the toothpaste appear green. This is normal.

6. Breath-freshening vegan toothpaste

Take advantage of cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties with a simple breath-freshening toothpaste from pet brand V-dog. Not only does this toothpaste taste great to a pup, but the cinnamon helps eliminate plaque and bacteria from their mouth while working with the fresh parsley to freshen their breath.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions

  • Add ingredients to a blender and mix thoroughly.
  • Move contents to an airtight container for storage.
  • Apply a small amount to toothbrush to gently clean gums and teeth.
  • Store in the refrigerator. Will stay good for several weeks.