Oral Care for Dogs and Cats - Natural, Herbal Treatments and Remedy


dental care for dogs and cats, natural herbal DIY remedies and treatments
★17.5 min read
In this article:
  1. Introduction to Natural Oral Care
  2. Health Benefits of The Oral Care Recipe Ingredients
  3. Natural Treatment for Maintaining Gum Health
  4. Recipes for Natural Toothpaste
  5. Natural Treatment Recipes for Bleeding Gums and Infected Teeth
  6. Oral Rinse, Mouth Wash Recipes
  7. Plaque Softener Recipes
  8. Foods and Fresh Herbs that Fight Oral Bacteria and Reduce Plaque 
  9. General Guide for Daily Intake of Herbs and Spices

1.0 Introduction to Natural Oral Care
There are many natural, herbal and homeopathic interventions and treatments that you can adopt to improve and maintain your dog and cat's oral health.

If your dog or cat has gingivitis or periodontal disease it is best to work with a natural holistic nutrition wellness practitioner to establish a plaque dissolving natural protocol, and then start a regular maintenance regimen. Fragaria Vesca can be used to soften the tartar/plaque - you will find instructions on the use of Fragaria below along with many options for simple, effective natural, herbal, homeopathic oral health care, including:
  1. Toothpaste
  2. Gum treatments
  3. Oral rinse
  4. Treatment/remedies for bleeding gums
  5. Treatment/remedies for killing bacteria
  6. Foods & herbs that fight oral bacteria and reduce plaque
Infected teeth and gums can cause your dog or cat to experience intense pain and loss of appetite. Choose one or several remedies in this article to treat the pain, inflammation, bleeding and fight bacteria which causes infection.         

1.1 Note
  1. If using one of the treatments/recipes below with tinctures, use alcohol-free tinctures only.
  2. Organic ingredients have greater medicinal value than non-organic, go organic as much as possible, use human food grade, pure ingredients.
  3. If you've decided on using a particular recipe or treatment from the selection below - read the related links when provided. These links are an important source of detailed information on health benefits, selection of quality and appropriate products, cautions, interactions, etc.
 
2.0 The Oral Care Recipe Ingredient Health Benefits

Before we get into the actual treatments lets take a quick look at some of the benefits of the herbs and nutraceuticals that will be used in the oral care recipes and treatments. These include:
  1. Baking Soda
  2. Calendula
  3. Ceylon Cinnamon
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Colloidal Silver
  6. Echinacea
  7. Feverfew
  8. Fragaria Vesca
  9. Goldenseal
  10. Grapefruit Seed Extract
  11. Kefir
  12. Manuka Honey
  13. Myrrh
  14. Oil of Oregano
  15. Oregon Grape
  16. Vitamin C

2.1 Baking Soda

 

Baking Soda is derived from a naturally occurring mineral called natron, which was first mined by the ancient Egyptians. I. the 1800’s to bakers from France created the modern version of Baking Soda. It is a mild abrasive and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Use pure, food grade baking soda.
  
2.2 Calendula (also known as Pot Marigold)


Calendula has been used in herbal preparations for thousands of years. Calendula is excellent for promoting the healing of wounds and stopping bleeding. It has antiviral, anti-genotoxic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Calendula promotes the metabolism of proteins and collagen which is necessary to grow new healthy cells and tissue. Calendula is safe for dogs and cats, including pregnant dogs and cats.


2.3 Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon Cinnamon provides an extensive list of beneficial properties for oral care, including:
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Anti-microbial (fights bacteria, fungi, etc.).
  • Anti-septic.
  • Mild anaesthetic.
  • Helps dissolve food particles and aids in the digestion of food.
Historically cinnamon has been used to numb teeth and gums, including the gums of teething infants.
 
All of my dogs (small, medium, large breeds) have cinnamon on a daily basis. To learn more about the health benefits of Cinnamon:

Daily  Dosage
  • Small Dogs and Cats - 1/8 tsp a day.
  • Medium Dogs - ¼ tsp a day.
  • Large Dogs - ½ tsp a day.
Cautions: 
  1. Ceylon cinnamon powder in the doses mentioned above is safe for pregnant dogs, but do not use cinnamon essential oil on a pregnant dog or cat. 
  2. More infromation regarding cautions go here


2.4 Coconut Oil

Coconut oil
  1. Helps fight tooth decay and oral health issues.
  2. Hardens tooth enamel.
  3. Can help reduce sores and infections.
Organic, cold pressed unrefined coconut oil has many other health benefits. Coconut oil can also be used as a dietary supplement and used as a topical treatment for other health issues. 
 
Learn more about coconut oil, go to this article. 
 

2.5 Colloidal Silver


Silver is a natural and powerful broad spectrum antibiotic agent, it also has excellent antiseptic, anti-fungal and disinfectant properties.
  1. Colloidal Silver kills virus, fungus and bacterium.
  2. Colloidal Silver can be use as a topical treatment.
Go to this article for:
  1. Use and dosing instructions.
  2. Guidance on selecting colloidal silver products.
  3. Cautions and other important information.

2.6 Echinacea (Cone Flower)


Echinacea has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and analgesic properties. Echinacea has been used in oral care for hundreds of years, popular as a mouthwash, it aids in the fight against gingivitis and periodontal disease by supporting immunity to bacterial infections that help destroy germs and minor infections in the gums. Its analgesic properties soothe aching guns and teeth. Echinacea is safe for use with pregnant dogs and cats.


2.7 Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)


Feverfew has been used in herbal preparations for thousands of years. Feverfew contains  parthenolide - a naturally occurring volatile oil that inhibits the release of inflammatory substances that cause inflammation. Not all feverfew products are effective as some do not contain enough parthenolide. Look for a Feverfew tincture that contains at least 0.2% parthenolide. 

Caution - don't use on pregnant or lactating dogs, don't use on dogs that have (environmental) allergies to ragweed and related plants. Don't use if your dog is on an anticoagulant/Antiplatelet drug, or on a drug that is changed and broken down by the liver.

Feverfew is safe for use on most dogs and cats. If you would like to know more about feverfew you can read here


2.8 Fragaria Vesca (Fragaria 6x, Woodland Strawberry)


Fragaria Vesca is used for softening and removing tartar and plaque. Once softened normal use of a toothbrush is more affective and can be used to effectively help keep teeth clean. Continued use of Fragaria Vesca helps keep tartar and plaque from reforming on teeth. Fragaria Vesca is safe for use on pregnant dogs and cat's.

2.9 Goldenseal


Goldenseal has been used for centuries by Native Americans and is a widely used herb today. Goldenseal has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Do not use on pregnant or nursing dogs or cats.

Learn more about Goldenseal in this article.


2.10 Grapefruit Seed Extract


Grapefruit is a citrus fruit. Extract from the seeds of the grapefruit are valued for their medicinal qualities. The benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) were first noted in 1972 by physicist Dr. Jacob Harich who observed its broad spectrum use as an antibacterial and antiviral remedy. You can read more about Dr. Jacob Harich and the history of GSE here.

Grapefruit seeds contain active ingredients that are:
  1. Anti-bacterial.
  2. Anti-fungal.
  3. Anti-inflammatory.
  4. Anti-microbial.
  5. Anti-parasitic and more.
Learn more about Grapefruit Seed Extract:
Go to this article


2.11 Kefir

Kefir is a creamy, dairy based food made from the milk of cows, goats and sheep, sometimes also made from coconut milk, rice and soy. (Do not purchase kefir made from soy if you live in North America as almost all soy crops are from genetically modified seeds). Kefir contains a large amount of phosphorus and B Complex vitamins (important for maintenance of healthy teeth), it promotes the faster healing of wounds, illness, it is excellent for the immune system, and a rich source of good bacteria - these are just a few of kefir's health benefits. 
 
Learn more about kefir and understand how to choose a good product for your dog or cat  read here.



2.12 Manuka Honey
Manuka Honey is produced by bees that feed on a native tree of New Zealand. Manuka honey has been used for its great healing properties for centuries. Manuka Honey is well known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic properties. It speeds up the healing process by stimulating wound tissues; initiates the healing process in dormant wounds; is an autolytic debridement (helps remove damaged, dead, infected tissue) and is an excellent moist wound healing agent.

You can also use other types of raw unpasteurized honey - i.e. wild flower, lavender etc. which also have medicinal properties but Manuka honey has even stronger medicinal properties than most other honey. Do NOT attempt to use any type of pasteurized honey as it has NO medicinal properties and is simply another form of sugar. Honey is safe for most dogs and cats.

If you cannot get Manuka honey you can substitute with any organic unpasteurized honey. Make sure you read this article for detailed information on health benefits, selecting an appropriate product, optimizing health benefits, cautions and interactions. If you are treating a puppy or kitten under 6 months of age make sure you read section 10.0 of this article.

2.13 Myrhh


Myrhh is a natural dental care product with antibiotic, astringent, amoebocide and anti-inflammatory properties. Historically it has been used for many centuries to treat swollen gums, mouth ulcers, etc. Myrhh is safe for pregnant dogs when used in small amounts. Don't use Myrhh for cats.

2.14 Oil of Oregano 
 

Oil of Oregano has excellent anti- bacteria, anti-septic, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Oil of oregano is safe for most dogs, don't use oil of oregano on cats.  Oil of oregano should never be used undiluted.


2.15 Oregon Grape
          (also called holly-leaved barberry, mountain grape)



Grapes and raisins can be very toxic for your dog and cat, however  Oregon Grape Root is a non-toxic herbal remedy for dogs and cats.
 
Oregon grape root is a natural antibiotic, astringent, amoebocide and anti-inflammatory. 
 
Do not use Oregon Grape tincture on pregnant dogs or cats.

2.16 Vitamin C

 

A deficiency of vitamin C in the diet has been proven to lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease and a reduction in the body’s ability to fight infection. Clinical research has shown that vitamin C improves host defence mechanisms thus supporting periodontal health and boosting the immune system. Vitamin C is required for the development of collagen - a substance that gives cell tissue strength and elasticity. Gums are fragile by nature so supporting healthy collagen production is all the more important. Vitamin C is safe for pregnant dogs and cats.


3.0 Natural Treatment for Maintaining Gum Health

You can use the following treatment several times a week as part of an ongoing oral care maintenance program.
  1. Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of Oregon Grape root, or Myrrh or, Goldenseal to your dog or cat's gums.
  2. This will inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes plaque and tartar.
 In addition to being antiseptic, Goldenseal, Myrrh and Oregon grape also stimulate new tissue growth of the gums.

4.0 Recipes for Natural, Herbal Toothpaste

4.1 Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)

  1. Dampen a tooth brush with a little warm water.
  2. Dip the brush in baking soda (just a little soda is required - do not load the brush with soda).
  3. Gently brush your dog’s or cat's teeth - baking soda is an abrasive so do not apply pressure when brushing.

4.2 Baking Soda and Ceylon Cinnamon
  1. In a glass combine 1 tsp of baking soda with 1/8 tsp of cinnamon.
  2. Mix the soda and cinnamon.
  3. Dampen a tooth brush with a little warm water.
  4. Dip the brush in the cinnamon/baking soda powder mix (just a little is required - do not load the brush with soda).
  5. Gently brush your dog’s or cat's teeth - baking soda is an abrasive so do not apply pressure when brushing.
The amount of baking soda required to clean your dog’s or cat's teeth is very small - you do not need to laden the brush - a little is effective. If ingested in large amounts baking soda is not good for your dog. Ingesting a large amount of baking soda can cause problems with electrolyte levels (low calcium, low potassium, high sodium), muscle spasms and/or congestive heart failure.


4.3 Baking Soda and Coconut Oil
  1. In a glass or small bowl combine:
    1. 1 tsp of baking soda.
    2. 1 tsp of coconut oil.
  2. Mix the baking soda and coconut oil until it forms a paste.
  3. Optional ingredient:
    1. Add a drop of food grade peppermint oil.
    2. Add a pinch of very  finely chopped fresh peppermint.
  4. Dip the brush in the baking soda/coconut  mix (just a little is required).
  5. Gently brush your dog or cat's teeth - baking soda is an abrasive so do not apply pressure when brushing.

4.4 Coconut Oil 
  1. Dip a tooth brush in coconut oil.
  2. Gently brush your dog or cat's teeth.

4.5 Ceylon Cinnamon, Kefir and Manuka Honey


In a glass mix kefir, with manuka honey and a little cinnamon - the consistency should be that of a paste. Use this paste to brush your dog’s or cat's teeth. They will love the taste! As an option you can also add a drop pf grapefruit seed extract,



4.6 Fragaria Vesca (Fragaria 6x, Woodland Strawberry)

  1. Place 3 Fragaria pellets in ¼ cup of warm water.
  2. Allow the pellets to soak in the water for 5 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes remove the pellets from the water.
  4. Use the resulting fragaria water to brush your dog's or cat's teeth and gums.

4.7 Vitamin C
  • Mix one cup of warm water with ½ tsp of powdered vitamin C (or grind-up vitamin C tablets to create a powder.
  • Use the resulting liquid to gently brush your dog’s teeth.

5.0 Natural Treatment Recipes for Bleeding Gums and Infected Teeth

Use one of the following to:
  1. Treat bleeding, inflamed or infected gums, reduce painful swelling.
  2. Treat infected teeth.
  3. Help stop more serious infection from setting-in.

5.1 Calendula (also known as Pot Marigold)

  1. Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of calendula on inflamed gums.
  2. Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until condition subsides.

5.2 Ceylon Cinnamon, Kefir and Honey

To relieve your dog or cat's discomfort, make a paste of:
  • 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon powder.
  • 1 tsp Kefir (optional).
  • 5 tsps Manuka honey.
  • Apply the paste to the aching tooth.
  • Apply this paste up to 3 times per day.

5.3 Coconut Oil and Oil of Oregano
  • Combine:
    • 2 to 3 drops of oil of oregano.
    • 2 tsp of coconut oil.
    • Mix thoroughly.
  • Use a cotton ball to gently apply the mixture to the affected areas of the gum.

5.4 Colloidal Silver     
  • Use a cotton ball to gently apply colloidal silver water or gel to the affected areas of the gum.


    5.5 Echinacea
    • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of echinacea on inflamed gums.
    • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides.

    5.6 Feverfew
    • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of feverfew on inflamed gums.
    • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides.

    5.8 Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
    • Option One:
      • Mix together 1 tsp of coconut oil and 2 drops of grapefruit seed extract.
      • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply the grapefruit seed extract and coconut oil mixture on inflamed gums.
      • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides. 
    • Option Two
      • Mix together 1 tbs of water and 2-3 drops of grapefruit seed extract.
      • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply the grapefruit seed extract and water mixture on inflamed gums or infected teeth, or;
      • Use a small spray bottle to spray the water/GSE mixture onto the tooth (teeth;
      • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides.

    5.7 Myrrh
    • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of myrrh on inflamed gums.
    • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides.

    5.8 Oregon Grape
    • Use a cotton swab to gently and generously apply tincture of Oregon grape root on inflamed gums.
    • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day until conditions subsides.

    6.0 Oral Rinse, Mouth Wash Recipes

    6.1 Ceylon Cinnamon, Kefir and Honey

    1. In a glass, mix about 2 tbs of warm water with 1/8 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon powder;
      1. Make sure the cinnamon is completely mixed with the water.
    2. Use an eye dropper or medicine dispensing syringe to squirt the liquid into your dog or cat's mouth.
    3. Have a towel ready and keep it under your dog’s chin as the liquid will dribble back out of your animal’s mouth.

    6.2 Goldenseal
    1. In a glass, mix 1/2 tsp goldenseal root powder with 1 cup of boiled water.
      1. Allow the liquid to steep and cool for an hour.
    2. After an hour, strain the liquid.
      1. Use an eye dropper or medicine dispensing syringe to squirt the liquid into your dog or cat's mouth.
      2. Have a towel ready and keep it under your dog or cat’s chin as the liquid will dribble back out of your animal's mouth.


    6.3  Echinacea
    • In a glass, mix ½ tsp dried Echinacea root powder with 1 cup of boile water.
      • Allow the liquid to steep and cool for an hour.
      • After an hour, strain the liquid.
    • Use an eye dropper or medicine dispensing syringe to squirt the liquid into your dog or cat's mouth.
      • Have a towel ready and keep it under your dog or cat's chin as the liquid will dribble back out of your animal's mouth.

    7.0 Plaque Softener Recipes

    7.1 Fragaria Vesca (Fragaria 6x, Woodland Strawberry)

    1. Place 3 Fragaria pellets in ¼ cup of warm water.
    2. Allow the pellets to soak in the water for 5 minutes.
    3. After 5 minutes remove the pellets from the water.
    4. Use the resulting fragaria water to brush your dog or cat's teeth and gums.
    5. After you've brushed your animal's teeth, discard any remaining fragaria water. 
    6. Make a new batch each time you brush your dog and cat's teeth.

    8.0 Foods & Fresh Herbs that Fight Oral Bacteria and Reduce Plaque

    8.1 Apples, Carrots, Celery
    Offer a piece of fresh, crisp apple to your dog. Chewing fresh apple helps remove bacteria and food particles from teeth. Just wash the apple, remove the apple core, slice the apple-up and let your dog enjoy. Carrots and celery are also healthy choices offering the same bacteria removing action as apples. These foods also increase saliva production which helps to wash away bacteria and plaque.


    Citrus Fruits, Melons and Berries
    Citrus fruit such as clementines, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, tangerines; melons and berries such as blackberry, cranberry, gooseberry, raspberry and strawberry all contain high levels of vitamin C. A diet that is rich in vitamin C creates an environment in which bacteria does not thrive. These foods also increase saliva production which helps to wash away bacteria and plaque. The other benefits of vitamin C are listed in the section on Vitamin C above. Lemons have many other health benefits as well - you can learn more about the benefits of lemons here. To learn how to prepare and add fruits and vegetables to your dog's diet read here.




    Cinnamon (Ceylon Cinnamon) - Sprinkle it on Food
    If your dog or cat self-select Ceylon cinnamon, you can sprinkle cinnamon on top of your dog or cat's food. Cinnamon helps dissolve food particles and aids with the digestion of food. Daily maximum dosages for cinnamon are provided below.


    Cheese
    Particularly cheddar cheese. Eating cheese drops the pH level in the mouth. Lower pH levels help fight plaque, protects tooth enamel and erosion of teeth. Cheddar cheese  contains the highest levels of alkali making it the best cheese for attaining better pH levels in the oral cavity. To learn more about the benefits of cheese you can read here.


    Fresh Herbs 
    Coriander (cilantro), Mint, Parsley and Peppermint
     
    Corriander (cilantro), Mint, Parsley and Peppermint have germicidal properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth. You can add these fresh herbs to your dog’s and cat's food or combine with some sliced apple, etc. Finely chop the fresh herb and serve with food.

    Daily Serving Recommendation:
    • Large size dogs 3 - tbs a day
    • Medium size dogs - 2 tbs a day
    • Small dogs and cats - 1 tbs a day

    Raw Meaty Bones, and Bone Broth

    Dry processed dog and cat food is NOT good fro oral health. Dry processed food is not species appropriate, it destorys gut and oral health. To support gut and oral health, tranition your dog and cat to a species appropriate raw or gently cooked diet. You'll find an example raw or gently cooked  fhomemade food recipe here. More on appropriae fresh whole foods for dogs in this article.

    Although dry food is promoted as being great for dental health – dry food is the number one cause of dental problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. In the absence of moisture particles of food remain on the dog’s or cat’s teeth. With insufficient moisture to flush the particles away – bacteria forms, then plaque. You inadvertently create dental issues for your companion animal. It is important to note that commercial dental bones contain species inappropriate ingredients, toxins and carcinogens.

    Include species appropriate raw meaty bones in your dog and cat's diet. Raw meaty bones are nature's toothbrush for dogs and cats.
     
    You can further increase the dental health benefit by sprinkling some Ceylon cinnamon on top of the food and broth.

    By hydrating your companion animal’s food you support dental, digestive and eliminatory health.You can read more about this and access a homemade broth recipe here.
     

    Yogurt or Kefir

    Include kefir or yogurt in your dog or cat's daily diet. Kefir and yogurt help reduce odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in the oral cavity, and helps destroy bacteria that causes plaque and tartar. A diet rich in Vitamin D (yogurt and cheese are both high in vitamin D) creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Make sure you give your dog plain yogurt with active cultures, not highly processed yogurt with sugar or artificial sweeteners. I usually give my dogs 2% plain yogurt. You can add fresh fruit to the yogurt, top it with a little cinnamon and give it to your dog as a treat on its own or add it to their kibble etc. Most cats prefer the yogurt plain (without fruit added). To learn more about yogurt and how to choose a good product for your dog or cat you can read here.

    You can also combine yogurt, kefir and fruit such as berries with Ceylon cinnamon to make a smoothie for your dog or cat - you can find recipes here.

    For the Recommended Daily Intake of Kefir or Yogurt go to this article.


      10.0 General Guideline
      Daily Herbal Intake Based on Dog’s or Cat’s Weight

      Dog’s, Cat’s Weight
      Dry Powder
      Tea or Infusion
      Capsule,
      Tablet, Pill
      Tincture
      pounds (lbs)
      tsp
      tbs
      amount
      times/day
      amount
      times/day
      drops
      times/day
      1-10 lbs
      1/16 –
      1/8 tsp


      1/8 cup
      1x to 3x
      1/2
      1x to 3x
      1 -
      3
      1x to 3x
      10-20 lbs
      1/8 tsp -
      1/4 tsp


      1/4 cup
      1x to 3x
      1/2 -
      1
      1x to 3x
      3 -
      5
      1x to 3x
      20-50 lbs
      1/4 tsp -
      1 tsp


      1/4 cup -
      1/2 cup
      1x to 3x
      1 –
      2
      1x to 3x
      5 -
      10
      1x to 3x
      50-100 lbs
      1 tsp -
      2 tsp


      1/2 cup –
      1 cup
      1x to 3x
      1 –
      2
      1x to 3x
      20
      1x to 3x
      +100 lbs
      2 tsp -

      1 tbs
      1 cup
      1x to 3x
      adult
      human
      dose
      1x to 3x
      adult
      human
      dose
      1x to 3x
      tsp = teaspoon     tbs = tablespoon    times/day = times per day    x = times per day

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      Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.