Natural Ways to Clean Dogs' Teeth Without Using Toothpaste

Wild dogs instinctively chew on sticks to clean their teeth.
i Dog Chewing Branch image by T^i^ from

Just as with humans, plaque and tartar on the teeth of a dog can lead to decay and painful periodontal disease. But not every dog allows you to brush his teeth. In these cases, natural solutions can help remove tartar buildup from your dog's teeth.

Hard Food

Hard, dry kibble might not be as savory as the canned variety, but it does a much better job of cleaning your dog's teeth. Chewing soft, wet food leaves a gelatinous residue on the teeth that leads to plaque and tartar. By contrast, chewing hard, dry kibble scrapes off the outer layers of plaque and buildup, particularly around the gums. Feed your dog plain dry kibble at least once a day to remove buildup.


Chewing one unflavored, single-layer rawhide strip each day provides an enjoyable and natural way for your dog to remove tartar and plaque from his own teeth. Gnawing on something with the gritty, dense texture of rawhide actually breaks up and loosens plaque on the surface of your dog's teeth. Unlike larger bones, single-layer rawhide becomes soft when chewed and digests easily inside your dog's stomach.

Dental Treats

Dental treats feature specific formulations to remove tartar and strengthen your dog's teeth. These teeth-protecting treats are hard with a smooth finish. Chewing the treat creates several digestible but sharp pieces inside your dog's mouth that effectively scrape away tartar buildup and plaque. Choose size-appropriate dental treats for your dog to prevent stomach upset.

Chew Toys

Rubber chew toys provide a way for your dog to exercise his jaw while removing plaque buildup from his teeth. Choose rubber toys with cornered edges that will allow him to reach different areas of his mouth. If your dog is not normally drawn to chewing on rubber toys, obtain one with a hollow center and fill the interior hole with hard, dry kibble treats.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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