A Simple Guide to Dog Dental Care Without Brushing

Caring for your dog's teeth is as crucial as fulfilling your pup's diet and exercise needs.

And yet, many of us who take meticulous care of our dog's health otherwise somehow skip the consistent tooth-brushing our dogs need.

We'll be the first to admit we don't always brush regularly with our own Mighty Paw crew. Why? Our dogs don't love it and often turn it into a squirm-and-turn fest, making it hard to do an effective job and no fun for anybody. It becomes an important health regimen that's easy to put off for a better moment or another day.

What's a conscientious dental health dog parent to do?

If you're a dog parent struggling with the brushing battle, you're not alone. Luckily, there are good alternatives to ensure your dog's teeth and mouth stay healthy. Let's jump into why dental health matters and ways you can supplement (if not totally replace) brushing your dog's teeth.

Why your dog's dental health matters

Dental health is essential for your dog's physical and mental well-being. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from various dental problems, including plaque buildup, tartar formation, gum disease, and even tooth loss. Any of these issues can lead to serious discomfort and pain, making it difficult for your pup to eat and play and live life feeling comfortable and happy.

The saddest part is that our dogs can't tell us when they're having painful tooth aches and issues, making it even more important we keep a close eye on their teeth and gums and prevent problems before they happen. Keeping our dogs' teeth clean can help prevent putting our dogs through the rigors of professional teeth cleaning, anesthesia, and involved (and often costly) dental procedures.

The science behind dog dental health

Understanding what's happening inside your dog's mouth gives us insight into why dental hygiene is so important. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on the teeth. If not removed, it hardens into tartar, which can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain. For dogs, teeth and poor oral health are linked to systemic health issues; unhealthy changes in heart muscle, kidney, and liver are all problems associated with periodontal disease.

In dogs, the health of teeth and gums is also related to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Studies show dogs with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from the heartbreaking mental decline associated with CCD so many dog owners are seeing in their older dogs.

Clearly, keeping every pet's teeth clean -- young, older, and in between -- is about more than just fresh breath; it's an integral part of maintaining overall health.

Recognizing signs of dental issues in dogs

Vigilance is key to preventing dental disease. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as bad breath, difficulty eating, drooling, or red and swollen gums. These may indicate underlying dental issues that require professional attention. Remember, regular veterinary check-ups are a critical tool for catching any dental issues early on.

Teeth brushing alternatives to the rescue!

The good news is that alternatives to brushing can help keep your pup's teeth clean and gums healthy. One of the easiest ways to clean your dog's teeth without brushing is to put your dog's instinctive desire to chew to work.

Satisfying your dog's chewing instinct stimulates your pup mentally and relieves stress while releasing calming neurotransmitters like endorphins (the "happy hormone"). At the same time, some chews can provide enough abrasive action to help remove plaque and keep new plaque from accumulating on teeth.

Dental treats and chews that soften with your dog's saliva and are more fibrous and "chewy" in nature can also clean dog teeth effectively with almost a floss-like action as teeth penetrate the chew in the chewing action. The act of gnawing on something helps remove plaque and tartar buildup from your dog's teeth, preventing potential dental issues.

3 tried-and-true dog favorites to help keep your pup's teeth clean:

1) Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks

Given that inflammation of gums (aka periodontal disease) is one of the most common diseases in dogs, tough chews like bully sticks can be a key part of your dental regimen. The chewing and gnawing required to get through the a bully stick scrapes away plaque and buildup before it has the chance to stick.

100% nutrition bonus

Our bully sticks are also single ingredient, 100% grass-fed beef. Beef muscle is a complete source of amino acids, which support your dog’s muscles, brain, skin, and coat, so you're giving your pup pure and natural nutrition at the same time!

2) Braided Bully Sticks

The braided version of our bully sticks also keeps teeth clean, reduces bad breath, and massages gums x 3. By combining three bully sticks into one, they're designed to give the ultimate, long-lasting chewing experience for medium- or larger-sized dogs.

Since all our bully sticks are 100%, all-natural beef, they're a high-protein, low-fat treat that's also ideal for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

3) Yak Cheese Chews

All-natural yak cheese chews are both hard dental chews and soft, tooth/gum cleaners and massagers as your dog's saliva softens and makes them more pliable. They're another healthful, long-lasting option for dogs who love chewing and the taste of cheese (isn't that all dogs?!).

The nutrition bonus: our yak cheese chews are naturally rich in protein and calcium, supporting healthy muscle growth and bone strength along with dental health.

And one more oral health pro tip:

Along with chewing, licking is another natural instinct that both energizes and de-stresses your dog's brain -- and you can easily make it part of your dental hygiene regimen.


You can keep your dog's tongue clean and bacteria-free and keep your pup's breath fresh with an engaging lick pad and a good smear of coconut oil.

There's a reason coconut oil is a central ingredient in dog toothpaste recipes. The presence of lauric acid in coconut oil helps it act as a powerhouse for anti-bacterial protection. Lauric acid's antimicrobial properties can help kill bacteria that cause plaque, bad breath, and decay.

Try slathering coconut oil on a multi-texture lick pad (ours have 4 different textures to add to your dog's sensory experience and cleaning effect) instead of smooth chew toys to keep your pup both healthy and enriched.

Making these alternatives a central part of your dog's dental routine daily is key to keeping your pup's mouth healthy -- and for most of us, easier and more fun to actually do every day!

Enjoy giving your dog dental health and happy enrichment chew sessions at the same time!

At Mighty Paw, we believe in helping you keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy so you can live your fullest, best lives together. That's why we're dedicated to finding ways to help you bring more wellness to your dog's life -- like making it easier and even fun to keep your dog's teeth healthy.

We're committed to providing high-quality products that are safe, durable, and practical for everything you need to keep your dog healthy and happily enjoying every adventure large and small by your side.

Keep exploring our products for more of the best for dogs! And don't forget to follow us on social media!

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