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7 Best Water Additives for Dogs

Dog drinking water from a bowl with water additives
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It’s a fact any dog lover knows to be true: there’s nothing worse than getting smooches from a pup with bad breath. Taking care of your dog’s breath is just one reason dental care is an important component of your dog’s overall health.  

“About 80 percent of dogs begin to show signs of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old,” says Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club.

Managing your pup’s dental care can take time, money, and patience. While daily tooth brushing and regularly-scheduled professional dental cleanings are the gold standards of good canine dental care, products like water additives may help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy in between, Klein says.

Keep reading to learn more about water additives for dogs.

What is a Water Additive for Dogs?

Dog smiling showing healthy teeth

“Water additives for dogs boost and support healthy teeth and gums by controlling the development of plaque, the sticky film that builds up on teeth and is made of bacteria,” Klein says. 

As the plaque on your dog’s teeth accumulates, it adheres to calcium deposits, which become tartar. “Tartar buildup then leads to gum disease (periodontal disease), and diseased gums can then lead to poor overall health, affecting other organs in the body such as kidneys and the heart,” says Klein.

“Water additives contain enzymatic ingredients that alter the pH of a dog’s saliva, preventing or slowing plaque buildup,” says Klein. “Some products include ingredients like green tea or zinc as well.”

Like water additives for humans, water additives for dogs often come in a squeeze bottle to easily mix into your pup’s water dish. Others come in gel form.

Some products are tasteless and have no scent, and most dogs will be okay with having water additives in their water bowl, Klein says. 

Benefits of Dog Water Additives

Dog drinking water from water bowl

Dog water additives should be used to complement your dog’s overall dental care plan. 

“Dental water additives should not be thought of as a replacement for the gold standard of daily brushing,” Klein says. However, they are a great addition to preventative care and could help you avoid more costly dental issues.

“[If the product helps] prevent bacterial growth, fights plaque, and reduces tartar build-up, it may decrease the prevention of gum disease, and therefore the times a dog may need a professional dental cleaning performed by a veterinarian,” says Klein. “These procedures can be costly and require anesthesia.”

Best Water Additives for Dogs

Are you looking to purchase a dog water additive? Here are some products to consider. 

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Our Picks:

TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care Water Additive for Dogs

TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care Water Additive for Dogs

This product was approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) 2020 and has no flavor or smell. It is derived from natural ingredients and can freshen breath in as little as 14 days. Pet parents can purchase formulas that also have hip and joint benefits or skin and coat benefits, making this an ideal, multifunctional addition to your dog’s wellness routine. Simply add half a capful to your dog’s eight-ounce water bowl.

Highlights

  • Approved by the VOHC
  • Flavorless and odorless
  • Freshens breath in about 2 weeks
  • Additional formulas available to support joint health and skin and coat health

Things to Consider

  • It should be added to your dog’s water twice daily.
  • Some reviewers mentioned that the packaging has a tendency to leak

Petlab Co Dog Dental Formula

Petlab Co. Dog Dental Formula

This water additive has no taste or smell, so you don’t have to worry about your dog being turned off by the product. Simply add one teaspoon to eight ounces of water and you’ll be on your way to preventing plaque and tartar buildup. As a bonus, it contains chlorine dioxide to help freshen your pup’s breath. 

Highlights

  • Taste and odor-free
  • Made in the USA in FDA-registered facilities
  • Helps kill odor-causing bacteria and freshen breath

Things to Consider

  • Not approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
  • Expensive formula

Naturel Promise Fresh Dental Water Additive

Naturel Promise Fresh Dental Water Additive

The VOHC approved Naturel’s water additive in 2020, making it a great option to add to your dog’s dental care routine. It’s made with simple, naturally derived ingredients and will freshen breath and prevent buildup. In fact, one dose of this formula freshens breath for up to 12 hours! Simply add half a capful to your dog’s eight-ounce water bowl.

Highlights

  • VOHC approved
  • Affordable price point

Things to Consider

  • The label doesn’t indicate if it is odorless or tasteless

Arm & Hammer Dental Water Additive for Dogs

Arm & Hammer for Pets Dental Water Additive for Dogs, Tartar Control

Arm & Hammer is a trusted household name and they have a well-known line of pet products as well. This water additive—which is formulated with baking soda—is effective at reducing plaque and tartar buildup and freshening breath. It’s odorless and flavorless, so your dog won’t even notice it in their bowl. Add one capful to eight ounces of drinking water. 

Highlights

  • Arm & Hammer is a trusted brand name
  • Formulated with baking soda to prevent buildup and freshen breath
  • Odorless and flavorless
  • Very affordable price point

Things to Consider

  • Not approved by the VOHC
  • Not ideal for automatic water bowls, as it creates a foam
  • Does contain sorbitol, which has laxative properties if used in large quantities. Consult your vet if you have concerns.

Dental Fresh Water Additive for Dogs 

Dental Fresh Advanced Plaque and Tartar Water Additive for Dogs

Dental Fresh has four different formulas (like a whitening formula and a plaque and tartar build-up formula), so you can choose what’s best for your pup. Add one teaspoon to your pup’s eight-ounce bowl of water. It’s safe and effective enough for everyday use and can help fight periodontal disease.

Highlights

  • Affordable
  • Dental Fresh was developed in 1999
  • Offered in two different bottle sizes (8 oz and 17 oz)

Things to Consider

  • Some reviewers found the packaging difficult to open
  • Not VOHC approved

Oratene

Pet King Brands ZYMOX Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Oral Care Water Additive

Oratene is a great gentle water additive for dogs that freshens breath, prevents plaque buildup, and can help with dry-mouth conditions. It’s suitable for both dogs and cats, making it a great option for multi-pet households. Add two pumps per quart of water.

Highlights

  • Suitable for dogs of all ages and breeds
  • Good for dogs with dry-mouth conditions
  • It’s a good value—one 4 oz bottle yields 15 gallons
  • Convenient pump

Things to Consider

  • Not VOHC approved
  • It contains sorbitol, which has laxative properties when used in large amounts. Consult your veterinarian before using.

Oxyfresh Dental Solution Water Additive

Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Care Solution Pet Water Additive

This odorless and tasteless water additive is made in the USA and doesn’t contain any dyes, alcohol, or flavorings. It can be used for dogs and cats, so it’s great if you have both in your home. Add one cap per liter of water or ½ cap for pets with sensitive stomachs.

Highlights

  • Reasonably priced
  • Made in the USA
  • It can be used on both dogs and cats

Things to Consider

  • Not VOHC approved
  • May cause some stomach upset if your pet is sensitive. Follow dosing instructions.

Dog Water Additive Buying Guide

Dog smiling in the meadow

If you’re looking to try a dog water additive, follow this advice to ensure you pick the best product for your pet.

Talk to your veterinarian first. “Before starting the use of any supplements or additives for your dog, consult your veterinarian first,” says Klein. “They will help guide you to make choices best suited for you and your dog.”

Look for the VOHC seal. Once you get the go-ahead, he says to consider pet dental products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. These products have been proven safe and effective in keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.

“The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats,” explains Dr. Klein. “Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following a review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols. The VOHC does not test products itself.”

Follow dosing instructions. Pay close attention to dosing when using a dog water additive. Each product requires different instructions for different amounts of water, and using too much could result in vomiting or stomach discomfort.

Use it consistently. Once you choose a water additive, it should take about two weeks of continued use to start to see desired effects.

Safety Precautions When Using Dog Water Additives

Dog drinking water from a bowl on a sunny day

One of the biggest risks of water additives for dogs is gastrointestinal side effects.

“Some dogs with sensitive stomachs may have mild gastrointestinal side effects, such as vomiting or diarrhea,” says Kelin. “In these instances, a veterinarian should be consulted.”

If you do try water additives but don’t see any dental health improvements, it may mean your pet is dealing with a more serious health issue. 

“There may be various medical reasons why a dog may have bad breath besides periodontal disease, such as diabetes, poor diet, kidney disease and liver disease,” Klein says. This is why it’s important to have your dog checked by their veterinarian first before starting any supplements or additives.

And a final reminder: never use human dental products on a dog, such as human toothpaste or human mouthwash. 
“They may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener which is toxic to dogs,” says Klein. “They may also ingest chemicals like methyl salicylate, menthol, and ethanol, which can be dangerous for their health. If your dog ingests these human dental products, contact your veterinarian at once.”

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