using brushless toothpaste on dog's teeth

How To Clean Dog Teeth Without Brushing

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Not all dogs like to have their mouths touched to keep teeth and gums clean. I am often asked how to clean dog teeth without brushing. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but keeping teeth clean is something dog moms and dads should do year-round. If it sounds easier said than done, stay with me for brushless solutions to cleaning your pup’s teeth.

Cleaning a dog’s teeth without the use of a toothbrush is easy with Zymox Oratene’s line of enzyme-based oral care products for dogs. For the past two decades, Pet King Brands has helped dogs enjoy healthy mouths, avoid bad breath, and keep teeth sparkly and plaque-free without brushing. Because Zymox’s Oratene line for dogs is enzyme-based and free of dyes, chlorine, alcohol, detergents, and toxic Xylitol, pet parents can feel safe using their entire line of products. I know because I use the Zymox products on my dog.

Which of the following do you think is true?

  1. Only six percent of pet parents regularly brush their pet’s teeth.
  2. Over 80 percent of dogs will show signs of periodontal disease by age three.
  3. The rising concern of antibiotic resistance in people and pets has created a need for effective products that work without antibiotics.
  4. Pet owner compliance is the number one reason pets don’t receive adequate oral care on a regular basis.
  5. All of the above.

If you guessed, 5 all of the above, you got it right. All of the above statements are true. Dog parents know they need to keep their dog’s teeth clean, but many dogs hate having a toothbrush used in their mouths. The folks at Zymox and Oratene know this, so they invented four brushless products for good canine oral hygiene. They come in super handy to help clean dog teeth without brushing.

Oratene brushless dental products for dogs

Four Products To Clean Dog Teeth Without Brushing

Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Toothpaste Gel: I’ve been using this product on my Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, since he’s been about two years old. This clear gel is recommended for dogs in need of gentle, non-drying, everyday oral care. It is pleasant and flavorless, does not contain harmful additives, can be applied with a toothbrush or finger, and is especially helpful to pets who suffer from dry mouth (from medications or a medical condition).

Fun fact: One 2.5-ounce tube of the Oratene brushless toothpaste gel lasts about four months.

Oratene Oral Gel: Designed for dogs with serious oral conditions such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, ulcerations, and inflamed gums. Preferred over chlorhexidine, the Oratane Oral Gel won’t stain teeth, cause excessive salivation, and features a mildly sweet, non-bitter taste.

Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Water Additive: Simply add to your dog’s water bowl and let the enzymes wash over her mouth with every drink. One four-ounce bottle makes up to 15 gallons. Simply shake the container and add two pumps to one quart (four cups) of your dog’s drinking water daily, then stir. Free of dyes, chlorine, alcohol, detergents, and toxic Xylitol.

Important note: The Oratene Brushless Water Additive can be used with a water fountain, but the filter should be removed or the enzymes in the additive will be removed along with plugging up the fountain’s filter.

Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Breath Freshener: Finally, a solution for doggy breath! This breath freshener delivers a gentle mist to freshen up a dog’s mouth. With over 900 pumps a bottle and using the same LP3 enzyme system, I feel confident using this on teeth, on gums, and inside cheeks.

Pro tip: I recommend using this if your dog gets any sort of fish oil capsules or eats a fish-based diet. My dog also takes heart medications and I love that he enjoys this easy-to-administer spray. When we start traveling again, this is the product I’ll keep in his travel bag.

dog getting his teeth brushed

How To Get Dogs Used To Teeth Care

I’ve never brushed my dog’s teeth. I hear that all the time, and if that sounds like you, it’s totally okay because we are starting from ground zero. Even without a toothbrush, some dogs are just going to be totally annoyed if you try putting a product in their mouth. I’ve developed an easy-to-follow system for dogs who hate to have their teeth brushed.

Purchase some inexpensive gauze at a local drug store and gradually begin to rub your dog’s teeth with a dry gauze pad. Repeat the same behaviors as you did in the previous step. Reward, praise, choose a calm time, etc. Once the dog accepts this behavior, dampen the gauze pad with warm water (not cold, as it may irritate the dog’s teeth and gums).

The goal is to get the dog used to having dental care at home performed without making him nervous in the process. Move from dampened gauze to gauze with some Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Toothpaste applied to it. Alternatively, have the dog lick a bit of the gel from your finger and praise her big time.

As your dog is getting used to the idea of having her mouth touched, put some Oratene Water Additive to her water to start the at-home dental routine.

Pro Tip: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends a pet’s teeth and gums should be checked by a vet at least once a year.

Pro Tip: Praise, reward, and ensure you are being happy and not struggling with the dog to do this. Yelling at her or scolding her with “stop it” or “no, Bitsy” will defeat the purpose. If you were a 2-year-old child making a first trip to the dentist, how would you want to be treated? Now envision your dog in that dental chair: This is all new to her.

Carol Bryant
cleaning dog teeth without brushing
Dexter has clean teeth

True Stories of Dogs With Teeth Problems

Dawn Gelhausen is a dog mom to several Cocker Spaniels in Oelwein, Iowa. Her 10-1/2-year-old Cocker, Gabby, underwent a dental extraction of her front teeth. She also had extra skin growing on her gums that needed to be removed. Her veterinarian compared it to a corn stalk. Dawn incorporates Oratene Brushless Toothpaste and puts a little bit on both sides of her dogs mouths every night.

I’ve known California dog mom Kim Kiernan a long time, and despite living on opposite coasts, our Cockers have cyber grown up together. Her now 13-year-old Cocker, Poppy, has struggled with poor teeth throughout her life. She had 20 teeth extracted in 2018 and another 10 in 2020. She has 10 teeth left, but a lot of Poppy’s issues stem from genetics.

“I recommend asking your dog’s breeder about the dental health of the puppy’s parents. I did not know to do this and only found out after I had such dental problems with her, that Poppy’s mother had terrible teeth!”

Of course, Kim loves Poppy with 10 teeth, no teeth, or a full mouth of teeth.

Debora Berg of New Bedford, Massachusetts says her rescue Cocker, Libby, has undergone several dental procedures since adopting her in 2013. During her last dental cleaning, Libby required 13 teeth be extracted.

“I am committed to doing better with Libby going forward and with future babies.  As soon as they come home, we will start working on a regular tooth brushing routine so they get used to it and accept it,” she shared. “Clearly, this is much easier to do with puppies vs. full grown rescues, but it is very important either way.”

Stockton, California dog mom Lynn Wobeck has a heart of gold and opens it frequently to dogs in need. Her hospice Cocker, Quinn, came to her with a difficult time eating. He had a strong odor emanating from his mouth and a blackened gumline.

During a dental cleaning, 22 teeth were extracted. His veterinarian felt Quinn had been chewing on metal, probably from someone locking him in a kennel for a long time. Lynn says after Quinn, she made sure to check each dog’s mouth regularly and have checkups to screen for dental disease.

Gina Norton and Tennille Rehm have Cocker Spaniels that have undergone extractions. Gina’s beautiful Cocker, Bella, has had a tooth removed each time she underwent a cleaning. At 10 years of age, she is thriving and due for her next cleaning.

Tenille’s dog, Aubrey, learned her Cocker’s front teeth were so severely decayed that extraction was the best thing to do. She had considerable plaque buildup that required a deep cleaning.

All dog moms we interviewed stressed the importance of getting to know your dog’s mouth, and we completely concur. When you know what a normal mouth looks and feels like, you can act on it when ‘abnormal’ happens.

dogs who had dental issues
Top: Gabby and Poppy Middle: Libby, Quinn, and Bella Bottom: Aubrey before and after

Beware of Doggy Dental Imposters

Not all dog dental products are created equal, and Zymox has launched their very own store to ensure the real deal. Thanks to the Zymox Oratene online e-store, pet parents can rest assured they are purchasing authentic products and not a knock-off or imitation.

At the Zymox online store, dog moms and dads can explore all the products in the line, including those offered and sold at veterinary clinics and pet specialty retailers.

Bonus: Since the pandemic, ecommerce has been the go-to source for everything from groceries to pet supplies, so we applaud Zymox for their commitment to the health and well-being of pets.

Learn more and shop with confidence at As an added bonus, use code fidoseofreality10 to save 10 percent off the entire Oratene Brushless Oral Care line through February, 2021 for National Pet Dental Health Month.

Enter to Win Zymox Oratene Brushless Toothpaste Gel CLOSED

After you’ve explored the Zymox store, let us know what products you are most interested in by commenting below. Everyone who comments will be eligible to win a full-sized Oratene® Enzymatic Brushless Toothpaste Gel, ($14.99 retail). USA only, except Hawaii and Alaska.

Complete rules here. Simply comment below on the product you’d be most interested in using on your dog from the Zymox Oratene e-shop.

One lucky winner will be selected at random on 02/28/21 and contacted by email. Giveaway is closed.

Winner is Wendy H Davis.

How to clean dog teeth without brushing


  1. I would use any of the dental products for Parker.
    He would be mostly a fan of the water additive as it requires me NOT to have to fuss with his silly face.
    I would also like to try the gel and breath spray (even tho we don’t have stinky breath) ..
    This will certainly become a regular routine in our household..

  2. I would love to try the brushless tooth gel and the water additive. Holly let’s me brush her teeth but doesn’t sit still for long to let me do it and sometimes I feel like I am not getting them all or cleaning them enough. Would love to try those to help me along!

  3. I would definitely like to use Oratene Water Additive for our dog. He will be 7 years old and had a complete dental cleaning several months ago, and had to have 2 extractions of his back teeth. I want to prevent further dental problems.

  4. I would pick the water additive first because I tend to forget brushing and the gel second because I am working on getting into the brushing routine. Balsam had a pre-dental checkup yesterday and may have to have a bit of the gum shaved off in addition to the cleaning. I feel horrible. And we have to wait til March 23 for the actual cleaning. If it wasn’t for the stimulus check, I couldn’t afford it on my limited income. I’m assuming the water additive can be used with cats?

  5. Brushless Oral Care, brushing a dog’s teeth was never a pleasant chore. One of my dogs wouldn’t let go of the toothbrush, what a battle! 🙂

  6. Would love to try this product on my one year old English Cocker Spaniel Cooper so expensive to get dental work on our fur babies in Canada ?? thank you for the chance to win?

  7. I adopted Boomer at 4 years old. I have been trying to brush his teeth but, he is definitely not a fan!! I would like to try the brushless toothpaste and the water additive.

  8. My dogs hate getting teeth brushed, and dental treats just don’t do much for them. I’d love to be able to try the Oratene Oral Gel with them.

  9. I have their ear cleaner and one of their products. i have tried their brushless toothpaste and water additive and love it. so i would choose the Oratene® Enzymatic Brushless Oral Gel for my girls. i know they would love this instead of mom getting out the toothbrush every night.

  10. The brushless Oral Gel would be my first choice. The water additive sounds good but I am OCD about freshening the water and would probably throw out a lot of it!

  11. Aubrey’s a lot better about regular daily brushing but I’d love to try this system and see how she does with it. ?

  12. This would be awesome for my little Laila! She cannot eat hard treats because of her ITP but has horrible predisposition for tartar build up. A dental surgery was what precipitated her relapse and so worried now about keeping her teeth clean!

  13. The Oratene oral gel would be awesome for my little Laila! She cannot eat hard treats to help with tartar because of her ITP but has horrible predisposition for tartar build up. A dental surgery was what precipitated her relapse and so worried now about keeping her teeth clean! We have the water additive, but like someone else said I have to dump a lot of water because neither of my girls will drink twice out of a bowl of water, so constantly refilling it. Great article!

  14. It’s hard to imagine that dogs also succumb to cancer and other fatal diseases. One of my grandpa’s dog died from cancer, too. At that time our family could not afford a decent treatment process, so we had to let him go, at least in the most peaceful moment.

  15. Great article. It raises very important issues. I read fidoseofreality on such texts every day. I have heard that to prevent the formation of scale, dog chews and toys with a porous structure are used, and give the dog hard vegetables (e.g. carrots).

  16. We adopted one of our boys just a few years ago. Poor guy had many teeth removed after the rescue saved him and we’ve had to remove many more. Our older guy has had no-anesthia dentals regularly, so we got our new guy on the same plan until we moved and we no longer have that option without traveling. I have to order the brushless toothpaste gel since neither is not too thrilled with brushing and they are both 12 and over.

    1. I just bought A tube of Zymox Oratene to try. I’ve been using some thing from the vet. I try to brush their teeth every evening after dinner. I have a toothbrush to put this on. So for they’re OK with it. But I also use a little coconut oil on a rag and then rub their gums and teeth gently.

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