clean a dog's teeth

How To Clean A Dog’s Teeth Without Brushing

Let’s face it: Some dogs are nearly impossible for teeth brushing. Fortunately, it is possible to clean a dog’s teeth without brushing so your pooch isn’t stressed out. Dogs, like people, live with a whole lot of bacteria in their mouths. Without taking care of a dog’s teeth and gums, bacteria finds its way into the bloodstream and ultimately,  a dog’s organs.  Not everyone is a fan of brushing their dog’s teeth, but there are ways to get around that.

You’ll always want to start with a clean slate in a dog’s mouth. A professional cleaning for heavy calculus and plaque buildup is necessary before implementing any sort of at-home doggy dental care regimen. Your dog’s veterinarian can decide if it’s time for a professional cleaning. That said, at 11-1/2 years of age, my dog has never required a professional dental cleaning nor did my first Cocker Spaniel. I’ll share with you my easy-to-replicate regimen plus a giveaway below, too. 

brush dog teeth

I am not a veterinarian, but I am a diligent dog mom, dog writer, and dog advocate who has worked in this career for a dozen years. I like to share things that work for me and my dog. I cannot guarantee the same for your dog, as each dog is an individual being. Always check with your dog’s vet before starting a new health regimen. 

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This post contains some affiliate links for which I earn a small income if you click through and purchase something on the links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

clean dog teeth with no brush

Why Does My Dog Need His Teeth Cleaned

When my Cocker Spaniel’s veterinarian told me my dog’s teeth are some of the cleanest she’s ever seen in a senior dog, I knew daily brushing was a big reason why. Not everyone can commit to teeth brushing, this I know. As yellowing, staining, and plaque start accumulating on a dog’s teeth, problems can occur.

Plaque is the enemy of teeth. It forms on a dog’s teeth after he eats and takes about 24 hours to start hardening. Plaque mixes with salts in saliva and finds a home on teeth. As plaque is allowed to harden, it gets tougher and mineralizes and becomes tartar. You don’t want tartar buildup, as it can wreak havoc on a canine gum line. That junky under-the-gum tartar and bacteria is the stuff you don’t want accumulating.

According to the Merck Manual for Veterinary Health, periodontal disease is classified in stages. By removing bacterial plaque on the tooth surface, gingivitis may be reversed so your dog’s gums return to a healthy, uninflamed state.

I’m all about my dog avoiding anesthesia. If something takes a few minutes once or twice a day, it’s worth doing to keep my pooch healthy.

professional teeth cleaning on dog

Reasons People Don’t Clean A Dog’s Teeth

  • I don’t have time
  • My dog fights me
  • I give him kibble or bones instead (no, that’s like cleaning your teeth by chewing pretzels)
  • It’s too late to start
  • He’s a puppy and doesn’t need it
  • My friends and family don’t clean their dog’s teeth
  • He bites me when I try to get in his mouth
  • He’s older and doesn’t have many teeth anyway

If any of the above sounds like you, I’ve got you covered.

brushless teeth dog system

Home Care For Dog Teeth Without Brushing

You want something that is safe, effective, and easy to incorporate into a daily routine when it comes to canine tooth and gum care. After a thorough examination by your dog’s vet, start a routine with Oratene’s enzymatic brushless oral care. I’ve been using this product on Dexter once a day for six months. I used another dog-friendly toothpaste prior to this but will not recommend anything to my readers that I don’t use myself. Here’s what I did:

  1. Apply a half-inch strip of Oratene Brushless Oral Care toothpaste gel to his gums at least once a day. It is best to do this in the morning, at night, or after a meal for maximum efficacy. I did this before bed and first thing in the morning. When I applied it at bedtime, I used a child’s toothbrush but this was my own choice. It contains no alcohol, Xylitol, chlorhexidine, or detergent. Make sure it’s not right after a meal. 
  2. Put a small dose of Oratene Brushless Oral Care water additive into my dog’s water bowl once daily. Again this contains no harmful Xylitol, alcohol, chlorhexidine, or detergent and helps to kill germs without brushing.

Dexter takes a few medications for mitral valve disease. He has been stable under the care of a board-certified cardiologist. In addition to meds, being diligent, and a healthy diet, I am taking care of my dog’s teeth and gums so bacteria can’t seep into his bloodstream and affect his heart.

Dexter the Cocker Spaniel

Could Your Dog Have Dry Mouth

Something I discovered as a dog writer and dog mom is that dry mouth can affect dogs as it does people. I know because I am a dry mouth sufferer, and I use Biotene mouthwash to relieve this issue.

In 2008, GlaxoSmithKline acquired the Biotene line for humans accompanied by a brand name change for the pet products. The ZYMOX LP3 Enzyme System Oratene® Brushless Oral Care system was born. My dog and I both use products from the same company targeting the same issue.

Dogs affected by dry mouth may include tend to have one or more of these factors:

  • Taking medications 
  • Pancreatitis
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Diarrhea
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disease 
  • Anxious dogs
  • Dogs who have had cancer/chemotherapy/radiation 

Using the Zymox Oratene line of pet enzymatic products may help this problem, too. The official name for dry mouth is xerostomia (said like zero-stow-me-uh). Saliva does so many things for a dog including aiding in digestion, removing food debris from teeth, and controlling a dog’s oral ph. If your dog cannot produce enough saliva, oral issues can happen.

Lubricating Dexter’s mouth twice daily with the Oratene gel in addition to offering a clean, fresh supply of water has been very beneficial for him.

cruelty free label for teeth dog

What If My Dog Won’t Let Me Near His Mouth

If you’ve never tried to get inside your dog’s mouth before, start very slowly with the Oratene brushless gel. Here’s a step-by-step guide to helping your pup acclimate to home oral care.

Using Zymox gel on Cocker teeth

How Do I Get My Dog Used To Oral Care

Don’t use Oratene or any products at all for the first week or so. A few times a week, simply get your dog used to the idea of your finger(s) near his mouth.

Week One:

Lift your pup’s lip and praise him for allowing you to do so. Never do this when the dog is sleeping or just finished eating. Your pup should be relaxed and you should have a few treats available to reward. Never scold your dog for not cooperating. Positive reinforcement is key. The goal is to make the entire experience rewarding. In fact, praise him like he just won the Dog of the Year award.

Week Two:

Purchase gauze and slowly begin rubbing your dog’s teeth with a dry gauze pad. Repeat the same behaviors as you did in the previous step. This is a happy experience and you want your pup to be told what a good boy or girl as you go. Lots of praise!

Once your dog accepts this, dampen the gauze pad with warm water (not cold, as it may irritate the dog’s teeth and gums). The goal is to accustom your pup to the idea of dental care.  

Week Three:

Move from the dry gauze pad to Oratene toothpaste gel. Apply a half-inch strip to the top gums and the lower gums. You may need to simply start with just one section of the mouth and work up to the other three (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right). I like to use a child’s toothbrush at least once but if you can at least get the gel into your dog’s mouth and at that key gum line area, this is most beneficial.

Don’t yell or shout at your dog. Scolding will defeat the purpose. You want this to be a super positive experience. I will say, “Dex, let’s do your teeth.” He comes right over to me because we’ve been making it a puppy party-like experience with “good boy” and treat time dispensed before, during, and after each use of the Oratene.

dog getting his teeth brushed

If at any time your dog puts up a fuss, stop and revert back to the previous step. Patience is key, but the brushless Oratene gel makes it much easier than trying to put a toothbrush into a super unwilling dog’s mouth.

If you made it this far, you are on your way to your dog living a lot healthier than he would have without a dental routine in place. Decide when you are going to brush your dog’s teeth. I recommend doing this once a week until the dog is used to it. The Oratene water additive comes in handy to support normal periodontal health.

Zymox dental care products

Where To Buy Biotene Brushless Oral Care 

Since I do most of my shopping on Amazon, I recommend checking out the line of Oratene products there:

Oratene Brushless Oral Care toothpaste gel

Oratene Brushless Oral Care water additive 

Learn more by visiting the Zymox Oratene website.



Enter to win a tube of Oratene Brushless Oral Care toothpaste gel and an Oratene water additive by commenting below and telling us the name of your dog who would benefit from these products.

One random winner will be selected from all entries received on Friday, 02/28/20. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to reply. Zymox will ship the products directly to you.

The winner is Betsy Wolf. Thanks to all who entered. Be sure to purchase your Zymox products:

Oratene Brushless Oral Care toothpaste gel

Oratene Brushless Oral Care water additive 

Official rules can be seen here.

Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, meaning if you click on a link above and then make a purchase, Fidose of Reality will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you. You help us keep the site up and running and in exchange, you get to shop for items you love. Wags!

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  1. Great information as always! I am sure Maui would love to try your products. We have used the paste but curious about the water additive. I did submit a question on Facebook.

  2. i have 2 gals that would love this, although one does not like to have her teeth brushed every nite. Harley and Tressa. thank you.

  3. I have 3 pups who I would like to try this on. My oldest is Junebug at 14, he has had professional cleaning and has also had few teeth removed. Cain is 5 and I just need to make sure he doesn’t have any problems. Whitley is 2 and I need to get into a routine with his teeth.

  4. My two boys, Kenji and Seiji, both had dentals at the vet last year and each lost a couple of teeth. They hate me brushing their teeth and I’d love to keep from having the expense and stress on them of another dental. These products would be great to have!

  5. My Brynley has lost teeth due to dental disease…she wont let me near her mouth but I’m willing to try to save the teeth she has left!

  6. 3 year old Emmi and 10 month old Elton would love to try this. OK. Momma would love to try this on them.

  7. We have tried the Zymox ear drops with good success but not any of their oral care line. Angel can definitely use it. She did not have good dental care before I adopted her & is a little dog so her mouth is missing a lot of teeth – I want to keep what is left.

  8. All three of my babies would benefit. And I just purchased the soft finger tip toothbrushes to try and get them used to this.

    Thank you!! ❤️❤️❤️

  9. Holly Noel! I’ve been brushing her teeth since I brought her home but she isn’t that fond of it yet! But she lets me do it still!

  10. Great post ! Titus and Teddy could both benefit . I won’t tell them it was your idea , I will wait until they look forward to their teeth puppy party !! Then they will send sparkling smooches !!

  11. All 3 of mine would benefit from this. I would buy it if I saw it worked and would recommend it to all my friends. I recommend Zymox for ears.

  12. Our 10 year old boy Mosley has never had a dental, the vet says we do a pretty good job with brushing, but we are always looking for ways to make it a little easier on our senior boy. Our 2 year old boy Booker loves getting his teeth brushed and is a good boy through the process. They both would benefit though.

  13. I’m sure my Cocker Spaniel, Reba would love to try these products… I do brush her teeth every night, but she certainly isn’t happy about it! Dental card is very important though….

  14. My 4 year old boy Mr.Darcy know the importance of dental hygiene and could always use help to keep his teeth healthy and clean.

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