Making homemade puppy toothpaste allows dog parents to control ingredients, quantity and quality while avoiding harsh chemicals and unidentifiable additives. A few everyday ingredients can form a safe, effective toothpaste for pups and beginning brushing early on increases the likelihood that a puppy will learn to tolerate the routine.
Why Brush a Puppy's Teeth?
Gums, teeth and mouths are bacteria factories that can breed discomfort, bad breath and gum disease. If left unattended, these bacteria can cause inflammation and can travel into the bloodstream. If this happens, it can cause problems in a dog's liver, kidney, heart or brain. Vets estimate 85 percent of dogs 5 years and older have some level of periodontal disease, so beginning a brushing routine during puppyhood offers the best chance of prevention.
Making homemade puppy toothpaste is relatively straightforward and can utilize everyday ingredients such as baking soda, an effective cleaner with mildly abrasive qualities. Baking soda also offers a nontoxic method of cleaning, rather than employing harsh chemicals. To make a baking soda-based puppy toothpaste, mix 6 teaspoons baking soda with 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Slowly add water until the mixture takes on a paste form. If using coarse salt, crush or grind first or put mixture through a blender.
Variations and Possible Additions
Adding a few drops of hydrogen peroxide can add further antibacterial properties to your homemade puppy toothpaste. However it's crucial to use food-grade peroxide, as the nonfood grade is toxic if swallowed. This is an important consideration, as your puppy is bound to swallow at least a little of the toothpaste. So all ingredients should be harmless if swallowed. To increase palatability, you might use chicken broth or another flavored broth instead of or in addition to water.
Introducing a Puppy to Tooth Brushing
Introducing your puppy to his toothpaste and brush may take a little time. Using a toothbrush made for dogs, put a dab of toothpaste on the brush or your finger, and let him lick it off. Follow with praise. Brush a couple teeth the first few times. Gradually increase the time spent each session. If needed, use a paper towel instead of a toothbrush. Daily brushing is ideal, but aim for at least a few times a week.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.