Your Doggo and Their Dental Health
One of the biggest complaints we hear from pet parents is that their dogs have bad breath. I mean, we understand. Who wants bad dog breath being breathed into their face all the time? Not us.
Unfortunately it’s hard to get the right information about what is best for your dog's dental health. There are so many conflicting pieces of advice - dental chew treats/no treats, brushing/not brushing, kibble/no kibble, raw diet/not a raw diet, bones/no bones… reading this is making us as confused as you probably are!
As with most things in life, preventing a problem is easier than fixing one. Starting with the right regime from puppyhood will increase the likelihood of your puppy having beautifully healthy teeth (and fresh breath) throughout their lifetime. If you’re starting late, or your dog has particularly bad teeth, it may be best to schedule a proper veterinarian cleaning and then start over with a good routine.
It’s important to note that not all products, even ones labelled as a ‘dental’ care product, are created equally. Some are far superior than others, and some simply won’t work, which is why it’s important to check labels and ask others for their experiences or check reviews.
While it’s so easy to hand your dog a dental treat after their dinner and call it a day, they can actually be ineffective as many dogs just guzzle down their treats without really chewing them. The chewing motion is what removes the plaque. Dental chews (some, not all) can also be loaded with unhealthy or worrying ingredients, and really high in calories. Some can even contribute to the plaque by getting stuck in your dog's teeth - very counterproductive!
I’m sure if chewing on a delicious treat once a day was enough to keep teeth and gums healthy with fresh breath, we as humans would be doing the same thing as a convenience and to buy ourselves an extra couple of minutes each day! We don’t though. We stick to our routine twice a day, recommended by dentists, of flossing and brushing.
Your dog's teeth and gums require daily attention. Just as your own do.
Dental disease affects 80% of dogs over the age of 3. Let that sink in for a moment.
There are a few things you can do at home to help prevent your dog from being in that 80%.
You should be checking your dog's teeth daily, and this can be done during your cleaning regime. With the amount of things our dogs chew on each day, it is no wonder that dogs can get all sorts of things embedded in their teeth and gums. This causes pain, discomfort and can even prevent them from eating. Your dog can’t tell you their mouth hurts so it’s important to be proactive in preventing the problem.
Have a look at your dog's diet. Are they eating a lot of sugary table scraps? Are they eating food that has lots of fillers? A raw diet is one of the best diets for dental health (and many other benefits), as it contains naturally occurring enzymes that protect teeth and gums. The food also doesn’t stick to the teeth in the same way that processed foods do.
Each day your dog should have something to chew on. Not necessarily a dental stick as they often don’t last a long enough time to actually do much good, unless you have a very small breed dog. A combination of long-lasting treats such as cow hooves, dehydrated treats with fur, raw bones and good quality dental sticks can be fantastic.
We do recommend a raw bone to chew on at least twice a week, as it’s been proven to remove tartar accumulations where other at-home methods have been unable to do so. Chewing a raw bone has its risks so it's important to assess your dog, and to ensure you’re using an appropriate bone (nothing small enough that they can swallow it whole, nothing cooked and no weight-bearing bones). If your dog already has damaged teeth, it’s probably best to avoid bones until the problem has been addressed with your veterinarian as it could cause pain and further damage. Bones also won’t clean ALL the teeth, but they will do a pretty good job at cleaning a lot of them, and combined with another method of cleaning (such as brushing) will drastically improve the overall health and wellbeing of your dog's teeth and gums.
If you don’t want to give your dog a bone to chew on (and even if you do), we highly recommend daily brushing. It can be a great way to bond with your dog, an opportunity to inspect their teeth and gums for any problems, and build trust with them. All you need is a toothbrush (either a human baby's first toothbrush as they’re very soft or a dental finger cloth), a dog-friendly toothpaste (NOT human toothpaste!) and a fair amount of patience.
Dental disease can turn into other awful diseases which can be fatal for your beloved pet. A few minutes a day to prevent that is absolutely worth it.
Don’t let them be one of the 80%.