How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean Without Brushing

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Steward.

Home » Blog » How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean Without Brushing

If you’re struggling to properly brush the teeth of your dog, don’t panic. Most dog owners have this problem too. Luckily, there are several ways to learn how to keep your dog’s teeth clean without brushing.

How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean Without Brushing

Your dog’s teeth will require you to clean them often. Brushing alone may require a lot of work and may not be enough. Therefore, it’s all right if you mix it up especially if your dog is annoyed with brushing.

Here are some alternatives on how you can keep your dog’s teeth clean without brushing.

Cloth or Dental Wipes

Some dogs are comfortable with opening their mouth. However, they’re not comfortable with the act of brushing itself. If that’s the case, you should try rubbing the toothpaste with a cloth onto the dog.

The cloth isn’t a great long-term solution for brushing. However, it does help in slowing down the buildup of plaque and freshen your dog’s breath.

Dental wipes are almost the same as regular cloth. However, they’re more effective at cleaning dog’s teeth. However, they’re not as effective when cleaning long-standing plaque and tartar.

Dog with a chew toy in its mouth

Chew Toys

Chew toys are great for dogs to relieve their boredom and stress. Oftentimes dogs will also clean their teeth by themselves using chew toys. Chew toys can scrub away any soft tartar, plaque, and relax the gums. 

Just like cloth and dental wipes, chew toys aren’t long-term solutions. Chew toys act more as a support or reinforcement for brushing. They don’t have the same effects as regular brushing does, so don’t consider them as a permanent replacement. 

The best material for chew toys are:

  • Rawhide
  • Nylon
  • rubber

Bully Sticks

Bully sticks or tendons work the same way as chew toys do. They’re large, firm pieces that dogs can chew easily. 

They can chip off hard tartar over time by chewing. Unlike chew toys, they bully sticks contain flavor. Puppies will love the flavoring and will chew on it all the time. 

Bully sticks also soften up a bit as they get wet from being chewed on. It makes it easier to use for:

  • Dogs with sore mouths
  • Young pups
  • Old dogs

Dry Food

Dry foods can become crunchy which helps fight plaque and tartar buildup. 

Some dog food brands also help with cleaning the teeth and other issues as the dog eats them. This isn’t as effective as brushing. Therefore, treat it only as a support or short-term solution for teeth cleaning. 

Raw Bones

Chewing bone is useful for your dog’s dental health. They’re also a healthy and tasty food for dogs. 

Dogs scrape off plaque and tartar when they are chewing or gnawing a bone. You should make sure that the bone you give to your dog is safe and easy to gnaw at.  

Don’t give a dog cooked bones. They do more harm than good. Cooked bones are softened so they can easily splinter or crack which can cause problems for your dog.

If you plan to use the bone longer, you should make sure to sanitize it to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure to wash your hands after handling the bone. 

Dental Spray

Dental sprays are an easy method if you want a convenient way for cleaning a dog’s teeth. When you visit the local pet store, you should sometimes ask about dental sprays and ask for recommendations. 

Dental sprays have a nice flavor. They can freshen a dog’s breath and contain enzymes that break down plaque on a dog’s teeth. 

I don’t find dental sprays to be that effective. They’re slow to work because dental sprays need natural saliva or drinking water to rapidly work. 

However, they’re good for quick and easy to apply methods for keeping your dog’s teeth clean without brushing. 

Dental Treats

Dental treats work the same way as chew toys. However, dental treats are food. You can get them at your local pet store. 

You should make sure to get the right size for your dogs so they can chew on it just enough for it to work off plaque and tartar in the teeth.  

I prefer using dental treats because dogs really love them. It’s easy to give it to them and you can just sit and won’t have to do too much. 

You should give your dogs one or two dental treats a day. It helps keep your dogs’ teeth strong and healthy. It also helps with freshening up your dog’s breath. 

Coconut Oil

If you want to go for a natural and organic method, you should try using coconut oil. Coconut oil is really effective for teeth cleaning. Apply it to your dog’s teeth and gums. 

White dog with its mouth open and tongue out

It helps eliminate food particles and plaque-causing bacteria. You should use a combination of coconut oil and regular brushing. I find this highly effective and the dog’s teeth are always clean and fresh. 

There are two options to use coconut oil. Either add coconut oil to a dog’s food or apply it directly to a dog’s teeth for accurate effectiveness. If a dog has no problems opening its mouth, I directly apply the coconut oil to its teeth. 

Food Supplements

Some food supplements are specifically made to help with softening and removing plaque. You should try going to your local pet store and veterinary clinic and consult what food supplements are fit for your dog. 

Think of food supplements the same way as dental treats. An owner needs to feed it every day for it to be effective. 

Water Additives

Water additives work the same way as coconut oil. The only difference is the coconut oil is more natural. 

Water additives are a type of liquid that contains enzymes. These enzymes help break down plaque and tartar. 

It’s pretty simple to use. Just add it to your dog’s daily water bowl. You should check the label for instructions on how much you should add for a certain volume of water. 

Professional Cleaning

While there are plenty of alternatives out there for brushing, you should always make sure that your dog regularly visits the veterinarian for professional cleaning. 

It’s more assuring to let a professional clean your dog’s teeth. I will give feedback on the condition of your dog’s teeth. I will also recommend to you what to do so it will be easier for you to keep up with your dog’s overall health. 


There are plenty of ways to clean your dog’s teeth without brushing. Although some aren’t long-term solutions, it always helps to know a lot of alternatives. It helps you keep your dog’s teeth clean by using what resources you have.