A dog's dental hygiene is important since problems arising from teeth, gums and bacteria in the mouth can develop into complex health issues that affect other parts of your dog’s body as well, including internal organs like heart. Brushing your pet's teeth is best, but there are other things that can help, like water additives or dental gels for dogs.

How to Spot a Dental Problem in Your Dog?

A dog's teeth are in many ways similar to ours. When they are born they will get “baby teeth” and those will be replaced within 6 to 10 months. When the first set of teeth is replaced, dogs end up with 42 permanent teeth.

A Dog's Healthy Teeth

Healthy teeth in dogs are white, and the gums should be pink. Some dogs have different pigmentation around or in their mouth which is why their gums can be darker. Dark gums are normal, and it's actually pale gums that can sometimes be a concern.

What healthy teeth and gums in a dog should look like:

What healthy teeth and gums in a dog should look like

Signs of Teeth Issues in Dogs

The first sign of your dog's dental issues is usually bad breath. This often means that a dog's oral hygiene has been disregarded, and there's one of the many possible problems that are causing the breath to smell bad.

You can see that dogs whose teeth are not cleaned regularly have plaque and tartar built up around some of their teeth. Also, you will see a discoloration when the dog’s teeth turn yellow or have dark dots on them.

What unhealthy teeth in a dog look like:

What unhealthy teeth in a dog look like

If some of your pet's teeth have prominently sharp edges, this could have been caused by teeth breaking either by accident, or because the tooth was rotten for some time and broke under pressure.

Not cleaning your dog’s teeth leads to the development of a large number of bacteria in the dog’s mouth. This can cause the gums to go pale and get inflamed. If the dog's mouth is not cleaned from this, the bacteria will move into the jaw bone and damage it, and then further develop within a dog’s by entering the bloodstream.

Most Common Dental Problems in Dogs

There's more to not caring about your dog’s oral hygiene than just dental problems. It can lead to far more serious health issues which will need to be addressed by a vet, meaning more expensive vet bills and even surgeries.

Some of the most common dental diseases in dogs are:

Gingivitis. It's caused by a build up of tartar and plaque in a dog's mouth. The gums will get inflamed and will start receding.

Periodontitis. This is an advanced stage of gingivitis and means that a dog's bone is affected. At this stage, the animal's teeth can start falling out.

Root Disease. This is a condition which only the vet can verify with an X-ray of the root canal. This can cause a lot of pain for your dog, similar to the pain that people feel when they have a tooth root canal issue.

Having in mind how much our dogs like to play and chew different stuff, it’s no wonder that their teeth are always in danger. If you don’t address your dog's dental problems on time, it can cause a very painful period for you and your dog.

What are Dental Gels for Dogs?

Dental gels are not toothpastes. Unlike toothpastes, you only need to apply them and leave them be. Gels are designed to stay on a dog's teeth and in their mouth as they work through the whole area – mixed with your pet's saliva – cleaning the mouth for approximately an hour. Then, you rinse it out. There's no actual brushing.

While the best option for maintaining a good level of oral hygiene is still with brushing a dog's teeth and using a dog toothbrush and actual pet-friendly toothpaste, some of these dental gels for dogs can go a long way in being a very welcome addition and, if need be, a substitute for brushing. Their biggest benefit is convenience.

Many owners who try to take their dog’s dental health serious are often faced with resistance issues when trying to brush the dog’s teeth. Even though there are different kinds of toothpastes that are made with an appealing meat flavor, some dogs still resist. This is where a dental gel can be very helpful.

Dental gels are thicker than toothpaste and remain for longer in your dog’s mouth. The main ingredient in most of them is Chlorhexidine, which is a popular antimicrobial germicidal mouthwash that treats some cases of gingivitis as well as swelling, redness, and bleeding gums. It kills the bacteria and prevents tartar from building up.

Additionally, many dog dental gels will also contain natural substances like different types of herbs and tea leaves. They are generally harmless to your dog’s health, while they can also eradicate or at least cover the bad breath coming from your dog’s mouth.

Most common natural ingredients in dental gels for pets include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Neem oil
  • Olive leaf extract
  • Aloe
  • Thyme leaf oil
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Fennel extract

All of the above have been shown either in human or animal trials to promote better dental health, reduce bacteria in the mouth, and keep the breath smell fresher.

How to use a dog dental gel
© Vet's Best

How to Use Dog Dental Gels?

Veterinarians agree that while brushing is essential, when absolutely need be, dental gels are the best substitute. They contain all the substances for preventing oral diseases, but they're also far easier to use.

Depending on the dog dental gel you bought, it can be used:

(a) after your dog's every meal
(b) once a day in the evening
(c) 2-3 times a week

To apply a dental gel, you can use a toothbrush, your finger, or a tooth scaler like this.

Put a small amount on your dog’s cheek teeth and gently spread it around. When the cleaning gel gets in touch with your pet's saliva, it'll spread all over very quickly and will start working on cleaning teeth and mouth.

Withhold food and water for about 30 minutes to an hour after applying.

The only problem with using the dental gel is if your dog doesn’t like the taste or smell, because sometimes they come with the smell of menthol. If your pooch is not satisfied with it, you can switch to a different gel with a different taste, or the dog simply has to get over it for about 30 minutes.

There are different types of teeth cleaning gels for dogs, and it’s not a bad idea to ask your veterinarian which one they would recommend. Some types of gels have to be used consistently for 30 days, but after that, it is enough to use them once or twice a week in order to maintain a good level of your dog’s dental hygiene.

If your dog is already used to brushing teeth, using a dental gel from time to time after brushing teeth can be very beneficial and will improve a dog's oral hygiene even more.

The Best Dental Gels for Dogs

There's a number of dog dental gels available, some stronger than others. We recommend using a mixture of both, effective ingredients that prevent dental issues and fight bacteria as well as natural ingredients to help maintain clean teeth and gums, and fresh breath. Below are some of our favorite best dental gels for dogs:


Your dog’s dental hygiene is very important. Our pets are curious beings who like to chew anything and everything which makes their teeth and mouth a very fruitful soil for the development of bacteria, plaque and tartar. Accumulating these doesn’t only affect their teeth aesthetically, but it can also lead to various complicated and painful conditions that even affect their internal organs.

Since a lot of dogs don’t enjoy having their teeth brushed, dental gels for dogs can be a perfect substitute. Their application is very quick and easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of your and your pet’s time. It's less annoying for the dog and more convenient for you. Dog dental gels are antimicrobial and designed to fight gingivitis, prevent plaque from building up and put a stop to bad breath.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Guide to Dog Dental Care

Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.

Want to share this?

Tips on Dental Gels for Dogs What Are They and How to Use Them

Rachael is a writer living in Los Angeles and an alum of UNC Chapel Hill. She has been a pet owner since the age of three and began dog-walking in 2015. Her nine-year-old Pug and best pal, Ellie, is the queen of sassy faces, marathon naps, and begging.