Open wide and show us those pearly whites! Dental care is very important for dogs and brushing their teeth is a big part of that. A good brushing helps to remove plaque and tartar that cause damage to the teeth and gums.
With the current movement towards more healthy and natural pet products, some pet owners are exploring the idea of DIY dog toothpaste made with household ingredients. But are these homemade toothpaste concoctions actually effective and most importantly safe?
It’s no secret that the average pet owner probably is not a canine dentist or toothpaste chemist. This is why DIY doggy toothpaste recipes generally won’t be quite as effective as a specially formulated pet toothpaste.
In commercial pet toothpaste, a special balance between ingredients like glycerin, xanthan gum and sorbitol help to provide the proper consistency and protective coating from harmful bacteria. Meanwhile, active ingredients like calcium phosphate, sodium benzoate and lactoperoxidase help to fortify, clean and protect the teeth. These are generally ingredients that are difficult for the average pet owner to get their hands on and properly balance.
Woman wearing grey shirt and blue jeans brushing Golden Doodle’s teeth with red toothbrush
In a pinch, homemade will work to an extent. Using ingredients like glycerin, coconut oil and cinnamon may provide some benefits and are still better than not brushing your dog’s teeth at all. Plant-based ingredients like coconut oil have not been scientifically proven to have any oral benefits but have been shown to exhibit general antibacterial properties in other studies.
If you’re considering using a DIY toothpaste, the following is a potential recipe:
- 1⁄4 cup Coconut oil
- ½ tsp Vegetable glycerin
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Parsley
- ½ tsp Mint
- ½ tsp Baking soda (keep in mind that baking soda can be toxic in high amounts, so keep this ingredient to a minimum)
Many ingredients in human toothpaste are toxic to dogs, which is why it is not recommended for canine use. Similarly, some natural health websites suggest certain household ingredients which may also not be the best. Below is a list of ingredients you should probably avoid in a doggy toothpaste:
- Turmeric. Turmeric won’t be toxic to your dog and it is antioxidant. However, it will likely stain your dog’s teeth yellow!
- Salt. Like Tumeric, in small quantities salt is not toxic to dogs but the abrasive structure of salt may do damage to your dog’s enamel.
- Essential oils. Many essential oils can be toxic to dogs, so it is best to avoid them all together.
- Sweeteners and flavourings (including bullion). These ingredients are counter productive to your efforts of reducing doggy breath and cleaning teeth. They may actually promote the growth of oral bacteria.
Overall, homemade doggy toothpaste may not be as effective as commercial canine toothpaste but still may be more beneficial than not brushing at all!