How To Make DIY Homemade Dog Toothpaste: Vet Fact Checked
Are your nostrils flaring at the scent of your dog’s hot breath? Perhaps it’s time to start brushing their teeth if you aren’t already!
Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly ensures healthy teeth and gums, as well as fresher breath which we all appreciate.
While there are plenty of dog toothpaste options on the market, today we’re going to chat about homemade dog toothpaste. It is surprisingly easy to make and you can use ingredients you probably already have at home.
Why Can’t You Use Human Toothpaste For Your Dog?
I hear you protest! There are already perfectly good toothpaste options that you use on your pearly whites every day. Why would you bother to make your dog a special batch of toothpaste just for them?
Well, here’s the things dear reader - human toothpaste is toxic.
Many toothpaste brands delight us with sweet-tasting toothpaste to make the whole ordeal much more palatable (pun intended). To do this, they often use a naturally occurring chemical called Xylitol. Xylitol is also added to sweets and is naturally found in many fruits.
Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and should not be gambled on, even in the smallest of quantities.
“Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs...Fast and aggressive treatment by your veterinarian is essential to effectively reverse any toxic effects and prevent the development of severe problems.” - Ahna Brutlag, VCA Hospitals (1)
It’s seriously dangerous so please do not attempt to use human toothpaste on your dog.
If you don’t want the hassle of making your own homemade doggie toothpaste, check out our article on the best dog toothpaste on the market.
For those of you who want the extra dog-parent cred of having made the toothpaste yourself, keep reading.
What You Will Need
There are quite a few different dog toothpaste recipes floating around but today, I thought it would be easiest to give you the basic formula and show you how to remix it yourself.
The basic ingredients you’ll need are:
- 1 poultry or beef onion and garlic free stock cube
- Baking soda
That’s it! I will explain the measurements as we go along so let’s get cooking.
How To Make Dog Toothpaste
Step One: Make meat flavoured broth
First, you need some tasty broth to mix your active ingredient with. You can just mix baking soda with water and call it a day but it isn’t particularly pleasant for your dog. Brushing their teeth isn’t all that pleasant anyway, so it’s worth sweetening the deal a little bit.
Take your stock cube and add the amount of hot water that the manufacturer recommends to make a lovely broth.
PRO TIP: Do not try to get fancy and add in fresh herbs and vegetables like onion and garlic. Onion and garlic are toxic to dogs anyway. The stock cube and water are fine as they are, Gordon Ramsey!
Ensure that the stock has fully cooled to room temp or below before you use it for the next step. You can pop it in the fridge to speed up that process.
Step Two: Measure out your baking soda
The general measurements you want are one tablespoon of baking soda for every one tablespoon of broth.
Roughly, if you have about 500ml of broth, that is about 34 tablespoons of baking soda give or take. It’s more about consistency here.
You may not want to make that big of a batch during your first try so use your best judgement.
You want it to resemble toothpaste the way that you and I know it, but perhaps not as smooth and glossy.
PRO TIP: You want baking soda and not baking powder. These are two different things. Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder is a chemical leavener with baking soda as a base, plus an acidic ingredient and cornstarch to make baked goods rise. Baking powder is not toxic but the extras are unnecessary. Baking soda is what you want!
Step Three: Decide on the smell of your toothpaste
Now we can get more creative! Gordon Ramsey can re-enter the room.
What do you want your dog’s breath to smell like?
Isn’t that the dream question?
The most popular scents are mint and cinnamon. These are both great additions to your homemade dog toothpaste mix. If you are using mint, use mint leaves and not liquid drops.
If you are using mint leaves, it is worth putting the mixture into a food processor and pulsing a few times to make sure you don’t have large chunks of mint leaves in your paste.
Vanilla is also a popular scent, but dogs aren’t always fans of vanilla. Cinnamon and mint go down well with most dogs.
Step Four: Decide on your flavour makers
For the final fact of the toothpaste-making process, you can spice things up a bit with some tasty flavour makers or things to improve consistency.
Some recipes call for adding in coconut oil to smoothen the paste, plus an extra stock cube for a punch of flavour.
Other recipes call for the old favourite, peanut butter. It is both a flavourful addition and smoothens the mixture nicely.
There is such thing as bacon powder and cheese powders that can also make the toothpaste more enjoyable for your pup.
The basic ingredients of the broth and baking soda are the prime base. Everything else is up to your dog’s taste and your artistic interpretation, so get creative.
Huge disclaimer: Please be mindful of what may or may not be toxic to your dog. Your dog probably loves the smell of chocolate but we all know where that leads. Use your discernment to choose ingredients that are best for them.
Once you have your concoction, mix it vigorously by hand or use a food processor to blend it smooth.
Step Five: Use it!
Luck you, we have written a full in-depth dog dental care guide that goes into far more detail, but I’ll just run over the basics of brushing your dog’s teeth.
- Choose a reliable, gentle dog toothbrush
- Use a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush at first
- Wet the brush and paste with a tiny bit of water
- Apply the toothbrush to your dog’s teeth at a 45-degree angle
- With gentle pressure, use horizontal strokes across each tooth in a back-and-forth motion.
- Work from the back teeth to the front teeth as this will be easier for you
- Be sure to massage the gums softly with the brush as well
- Apply more toothpaste for the bottom teeth if needed (e.g if you have a large dog with big teeth!)
- You don’t have to rinse. Give your dog a treat to reward them.
Step Six: Store it for next time
Great! You have successfully made dog toothpaste at home. Now you likely have far more paste than you need.
It is best to store it in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or so.
Be sure to keep it well away from your dog as they will likely try to eat the lot if you have made it super tasty. Consuming large amounts of baking soda could be fatal to your dog. (2)
Conclusion: Keep Your Dog’s Breath Fresh
DIY dog toothpaste is incredibly easy to make and cheaply done with ingredients you already have at home. Following these steps, you’ll be able to make a supply of toothpaste quickly for keeping your dog’s teeth and gums fresh and healthy!
Dental issues are incredibly common among dogs. Their dental care is of the utmost importance, as gingivitis and tooth decay are painful and expensive to treat. Brushing your dog’s teeth is a good preventative measure to huge dental issues down the line.
Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly also keeps their breath fresh.
Yes, they can and should! They can because in small quantities, the ingredients of your homemade dog toothpaste are harmless.
They should swallow it because they don’t have the ability or know-how to spit things out of command. You won’t be able to rinse their mouth easily manually either.
As we mentioned previously, if your dog swallow human toothpaste, contact your vet immediately. They need urgent medical attention even if they aren’t showing symptoms of poisoning.
The best thing is to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but we fully understand that not everyone has the time or will to do that. At a minimum, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth 2 to 3 times per week. Note, however, the more regularly you brush your dog’s teeth, the easier it is for them to acclimatise to it.
This is a great question and a common problem for many of us. It can be tough to get into a toothbrushing routine when your dog is just not into it.
You should never force toothbrushing on them as it certainly isn’t a natural sensation for them.
There are two courses of action here. One is to give up… Yup, I said it.
As Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, from PetMD writes “You should never get to the point where you fear being bitten by your dog during toothbrushing. If toothbrushing is not accepted by your dog, then you can focus on other at-home dental care options, like dental treats, chews, foods and water additives.” (3)
But this is only if your dog won’t tolerate toothbrushing at all. If they will, don’t use these suggestions as lazy replacements.
The second tactic is to use desensitization. Try to normalise checking your dog’s teeth and gums without brushing them at first. Just let them get used to the sensation of having their mouth handled that way. Introduce them to tooth brushing slowly and you’re more likely to succeed.
- Brutlag, A. “Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved May 9th, 2021. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/xylitol-toxicity-in-dogs
- Stregowski, J. November 9, 2020. “What to Do If Your Dog Eats Baking Soda”. The Spruce Pets. Retrieved May 9th, 2021. https://www.thesprucepets.com/dog-ate-baking-soda-5072798
- Vogelsang, J. August 20, 2015. “How to Clean a Dog’s Teeth: Tools and Tips.” PetMD. Retrieved May 9th, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/what-best-way-clean-my-dogs-teeth