dog teeth and body language

If you can’t brush your dog or cat’s teeth, these easy-to-use no-brush dental gels, drops and sprays may be the answer.

Healthy teeth and gums are as important to your dog or cat’s well-being as good nutrition and regular exercise. Yet dental wellness in animals is often overlooked, even though most of us know from personal experience that toothaches are painful and debilitating, and can affect our whole quality of life, not to mention our ability to chew and digest food properly.

The same applies to dogs and cats. Sore gums and infected or rotting teeth are very painful, and even though your animal may not be showing overt signs of discomfort, that doesn’t mean he’s not suffering. Take a look inside his mouth. If you see red inflamed gums, brownish teeth, and/or notice a foul smell, he needs dental attention as soon as possible.

Maintaining good dental health in dogs and cats involves regular veterinary checkups, along with professional cleanings when necessary, as well as home dental care between appointments. Along with a nutritious good quality diet (whole-meat based, free of empty carbs and additives), daily brushing is often recommended, using a special toothbrush or finger glove along with toothpaste formulated especially for animals.

But what if your dog or cat won’t let you brush his teeth? With training and patience, some will learn to accept it, especially if started young, but with others it will always remain a difficult and stressful ordeal. If your companion falls into the latter category, consider using a natural no-brush dental product, such as an oral gel or spray.

How do I choose a product?

A variety of companies make brushless oral care products, but it’s important to choose a high quality product formulated from natural, non-toxic ingredients.

  • LebaLab uses herbs in its Leba III dental spray. “The herbs are mints and rose, stabilized in ethyl alcohol and distilled water,” says Lise Guerin. “All the ingredients are human grade. The herbs are the active ingredients. They stimulate the enzymes and change the chemistry in the mouth. They activate the saliva and the tartar softens and comes off slowly over time.”
  • PetzLife uses a unique blend of essential oils and extracts,” says Andrew Groth. “It works within the saliva to kill the bacteria in the animal’s mouth, allowing plaque and tartar to be broken down, even under the gum line.” For example, the grapefruit seed extract in the product reduces periodontal inflammation, while grape seed extract helps prevent dental plaque and mitigates oral and gum disease. Other ingredients include peppermint oil, neem oil and thyme oil, all good for dental health and hygiene.
  • Bluestem oral care products are scientifically developed and clinically proven to be safe and effective,” says Erika Linden of Kane Biotech Inc. “All the ingredients are food-grade (no harsh chemicals), and meet the safety standards set out by Health Canada’s Low Risk Veterinary Health Products (LRVHP) program. The active ingredients help fight plaque and tartar, which in turn freshens breath.”
  • TropicClean is another good choice for brushless oral care products. “They all have a natural blend of gentle and safe ingredients that freshens breath, cleans teeth, and promotes overall periodontal wellness,” says James Brandly. These ingredients include chlorophyllin (a natural breath freshener derived from green leafy vegetables) as well as green tea leaf extract and spearmint oil.

How are they used, and when do they start working?

Most brushless dental products are designed to be as convenient as possible. Some are applied directly to the animal’s mouth via a dropper or spray, while others can be added to his water.

“Our water additive is very simple to use,” says Erika. “Just add a capful or two to your animal’s drinking water. We offer several flavors to appeal to a wide range of animals. We also have an oral spray to be applied directly to the teeth. Our clinical studies show a reduction in tartar after 28 days of continued use.”

Leba III is sprayed into the animal’s mouth. “It starts working immediately, although the time it takes for complete cleaning will vary according to the animal’s age, the medications he’s taking, and so on,” says Lise.

PetzLife’s oral gels are administered by pumping the suggested dosage onto your finger and gently wiping it on your animal’s teeth and gums. “If he will not allow this procedure, quickly swipe the gel onto the lips and muzzle,” says Andrew. “He will lick the product, which will disperse it through the mouth via the saliva. With the spray, gently lift the animal’s lips and spray the suggested dosage directly into his mouth. All the teeth do not have to be covered.” The company recommends applying its product twice a day for a month. “Once the teeth are free of build-up, two to three times a week will suffice for maintenance, keeping the plaque from forming into hardened tartar,” Andrew says. “Nighttime is best because it allows the product to activate throughout the whole night.”

TropicClean’s products include drops that can be added to the animal’s water bowl; a whitening gel that’s applied via two drops to each side of the dog’s mouth; and a breath freshening foam to be squirted onto the teeth and gums. “Apply our Clean Teeth Gel directly to teeth with plaque and tartar buildup, once daily in the evening,” James advises. “After application, you’ll soon notice your dog licking his lips repeatedly. This is normal and helps the gel mix with the saliva and coat all surfaces of his teeth and gums. It begins removing plaque and tartar immediately when used as directed.”

Given the availability of natural, convenient, brush-free oral care products for dogs and cats, there’s no longer any excuse to neglect the dental health of our animal companions!


Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.