Written by Anna H, Pack Leader
It can be easy to overlook some very important things when it comes to our pet’s health, such as the importance of oral hygiene! With February being National Pet Dental Health Month, we thought we would share some information on how to keep those teeth clean and healthy.
1.Junk-free is how it should be!
There is a circulating idea that kibble is more beneficial to your dog’s oral health than wet food. The thought is that kibble is hard and scrapes the teeth when the dog chews, but that’s not entirely true. Whether you feed dry, wet, or raw food, it’s actually the quality of the food consumed that matters. Diets that are full of fillers, carbohydrates, artificial preservatives, and overall poor quality ingredients are the culprit that cause the most damage to your animal’s dental state and overall bodily health. This is true of both dogs and cats. Furthermore, most dogs do not chew their food at all; they usually lap it up and swallow it whole providing no scraping to the teeth.
Ideal diets include low-carb home cooked meals, raw nutrition, freeze-dried food, and/or dehydrated food are full of fresh ingredients that your animal’s body can actually digest and break down without creating upstream dental issues. There are many great brands here at St PetersBARK that are affordable and offer high quality, wholesome nutrition. You should try to avoid pet foods full of by-products and cereal grains, which are more likely to stick to your dog’s teeth.
Looking for something new? Stop by the shop to ask us about what food will work best for your pet and your budget.
Just as we brush our own teeth, getting a toothbrush and scrub-a-dubbing your dog’s teeth, whether it’s daily or weekly, can help to break down plaque and prevent further build-up. Sure, it’s not always the most popular method when it comes to your dog’s preferences, but it’s a cost-effective, easy way to keep up with dental health and hopefully avoid frequent vet visits for that issue. Consistency and positive reward is key, so if you are met with resistance when you first try brushing, give it time or try out one of our other options below.
Thankfully, there are quite a few dog-specific toothpaste products on the market that come in different flavors that your pooch will love lapping up, making the task much more manageable. Here are some brushing techniques to help out.
We always keep Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Tartar Control Toothpaste stocked at the shop, as well as a few other options–it’s a great product, and we are always getting positive reviews. Give it a try!
3.Wipe It Away!
If brushing just isn’t for you or your dog, or if you are looking to try out a new cleaning method, dental wipes can be a good alternative. Though not as effective as teeth brushing, as the wipe can’t get into all the little spots a brush can, it is still a convenient way to help reduce plaque build-up and icky odor-causing bacteria–and it is a little less messy than the toothbrush and paste method. We carry Earthbath Tooth & Gum Wipes if this option fits your needs.
4.Food/Water Additives & Oral Sprays/Gels
Food and water additives have a number of benefits and are a good hassle-free, brushless option. PlaqueOff is an algae-based powder supplement that works within the body to actually make it difficult for plaque to stick to your pet’s teeth. It also helps to soften tough build-up and control bad breath.
Other products can be added directly into your dog’s regular drinking water. Here at St PetersBARK, we carry the Zymox Oral Care Water Additive for $17.99, and we’ve gotten great feedback on this. By adding a few drops of solution, the concentrated formula keeps your dog’s teeth clean by breaking down plaque and killing off the germs and bacteria that cause bad breath and contribute to gum disease.
Similar to the food and water additives, oral sprays and gels can also be useful. Petzlife flavored gels and sprays are easy to use and feature natural ingredients like extracts and essential oils. They work with the saliva of your dog to break down plaque and tartar and saturate underneath the gum line to heal inflamed gum tissue and kill bacteria.
5.Toys, Dental Chews, and Raw Bones
Chew toys that are made of nylon or a hard rubber, like the Nylabone Power Chew Dental Dinosaur, or the Hunter Dog Toy Tooth Cleaner, have been found to be very beneficial for stimulating gum health and promoting dental hygiene–and they are super entertaining for your pup.
Edible dental chews are a great maintenance option for helping keep teeth clean and breath fresh. These easily digestible chews come in various sizes and are often uniquely shaped with little ridges and nubs to help scrape plaque from teeth. They usually include plant-based ingredients to help neutralize bacteria and freshen breath. If your dog has more severe tartar build-up, you’ll want to make sure you give these consistently (most have a recommended serving of one chew per day) and pair it with another method like the Petzlife gel or a food/water additive. At St PetersBARK, we carry Whimzees, Petzlife Complete Treats, Indigenous Dental Health Bones, and Merrick Fresh Kisses Double Brush chews.
Raw bones and other animal part chews are also fantastic options for dogs who are a little more picky and want some extra flavor to their chew. Just to name a few, things such as esophagus, dried tendons, bully sticks, antlers, and uncooked raw bones–like bison or beef–are usually a big hit with most dogs.
These options are great as they are made mostly (if not entirely) from animal protein and not starches (like potato, corn, or rice flours) which tend to stick to your dog’s teeth and cause a funky buildup.
A Final Note
As you would do with a human child, always provide supervision when giving consumables to your dog especially if it’s the first time.
Some pets (especially small breed dogs and cats) are more prone to dental issues and may require full dental procedures at the vet. If your pet is in need of a more thorough cleaning, non-anesthesia dental clinics are another option. St PetersBARK will be hosting a dental clinic for both dogs and cats on Saturday March 30. Give us a call at the shop for more information or to sign up!