I have always wondered if it is really necessary to brush my pet’s teeth.
And is there a way to keep my pet’s teeth clean without having to use harmful substances? Also, I have a busy schedule and having to brush my dog’s or cat’s teeth every day seems time-consuming to me,
At the same time, dogs seem to scoop up anything that’s on the ground and I don’t even want to think about the bacteria that form in their mouth. And every dog owner knows how disgusting our doggie’s breath can be!
Every pet expert agrees that our pets’ teeth and gums need to be taken care of because dental problems can lead to infections and ultimately to heart, liver and kidney disease.
Finding the right toothpaste for your pet
Ideally, you should do this once a day with a tooth brush designed for dogs and just a child’s toothbrush. A cotton swab also works. If you have several dogs, each dog gets his own toothbrush.
Additionally, it is also recommended that your dog gets a professional cleaning by a veterinarian about once or twice a year.
When you brush your pet’s teeth, what kind of toothpaste should you use? seafood or peanut butter flavors are added to make it more attractive for animals.
ARM & HAMMER offers a toothpaste for dogs and cats that contains enzymes to fight plaque and tartar. It comes in various flavors like vanilla-ginger or poultry to freshen your dog’s breath. All Arm & Hammer products contain baking soda, which can be controversial to some people. When I looked at the list of ingredients used I am wondering if they are really safe for pets.
Virbac CET toothpaste for dogs and cats also comes in several flavors that your pet will like. It contains enzymes to fight dental plaque and keep your pet’s mouth fresh. Since it doesn’t contain foaming agents, it is supposed to be safe to swallow.
For pet owners who take the idea of “all natural” seriously and who prefer homeopathic products with the least amount of chemicals and other harmful ingredients there are these dental products to be considered:
- Dr Mercola Dental Gel claims to be 100 % natural, no toxins or other harmful substances. It is purely plant-based and contains essential oils like neem oil, cardamom, grape fruit and peppermint for flavor. It prevents periodontal disease and keeps gums healthy by mixing with the dog’s saliva. It’s easy to use because it can be applied with your fingertips and your dog can lick it.
- Vet’s Best Dental Gel toothpaste for dogs uses natural ingredients like neem oil, grapefruit seed extract, aloe and enzymes. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to fight dental plaque and tartar and keeps your dog’s mouth fresh. If you don’t like toothbrushes, this gel can be applied with your fingertips, 2 or 3 applications per week are sufficient.
- TruDog Spray Me is a dental spray/dental mist made with 100 % natural ingredients containing essential oils like neem oil and peppermint oil. It reduces harmful bacteria in your dog’s mouth, maintains healthy teeth and gums and freshens your dog’s breath. It is a mist-like spray which means it is easy to administer and it beats tooth brushing for sure.
- LEBA III dental spray for dogs and cats works through enzymes found in animal’s saliva and keeps teeth clean by maintaining the chemical balance in his mouth and not killing good bacteria. If used on a regular basis, there is almost no brushing required.
I want to mention that it is not a good idea to give your pet human toothpaste simply because most of them contain fluoride which is poisonous to dogs and cats.
Also, there are a lot of DIY ideas on the internet on how to make your on tooth- brushing kit for your pets. Most of them use baking soda as one of the main ingredients. Some experts (according to an article on vcahospitals.com) advice refraining from using baking soda when it comes to pets because of its high alkaline content. When swallowed, it can upset the acidic balance in the animal’s digestive tract.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth with dental chews
Dental treats or dental chews are an additional way to maintain your dog’s teeth and it is surely less tedious for the pet owner and more fun for the dog. Some chews claim to be as effective as brushing teeth.
MILK-BONE is a company offering popular dog treats, and their BRUSHING CHEWS DENTAL DOG TREATS come in various sizes for small, medium and large dogs. These dental treats are shaped like a bone and come with bristle-like nubs and ridges to clean teeth that are hard to reach. They are very effective in fighting plaque and tartar and reduce your dog’s bad breath. They are very nutritious because they contain a list of essential vitamins and minerals.
Nevertheless, some ingredients are not as natural and healthy as some dog owners would like them to be. These treats contain chicken by-products and chicken meal instead of quality meat, they contain added starch and preservatives. Still, our dogs love them!
Another popular dental treat for dogs are GREENIES, also available for cats. These treats have a chewy texture that helps in maintaining healthy teeth and gums and freshens your dog’s and cat’s breath. Besides added vitamins and minerals they are made with natural ingredients highly soluble for easy digestion. Note: they contain wheat.
If you are especially concerned about your dog’s diet and like to opt for grain-free treats, you will like BLUE BUFFALO dental bones. These dental chews shaped as bones are made with real ingredients, no poultry by-products. They are grain-free, no wheat, no soy, no corn, no preservatives and easy to digest, perfect for animals with food allergies. At the same time they take care of your dog’s dental hygiene and freshen his breath.
NATURAL BALANCE offers dental chews with grooves and ridges to help the dog’s chewing action. Besides being grain-free they are rich in nutrients and high in protein.
VIRBAC CET ENZYMATIC ORAL HYGIENE CHEWS for dogs are made from select beef hide. Their anti-septic quality and abrasive texture reduce tartar and keep teeth clean. Downside is the smell which can be pretty bothersome to pet owners, but your dogs won’t care!
This is just a selection of dental chews that caught my attention. Since they are edible, they should be in addition to a regular meal and should be limited. Make sure you give your dog that right chews for his size, otherwise he is eating additional calories and not benefiting his teeth.
Dental chew toys for dogs
They are not edible and made from hard and preferably durable material. Chew toys are perfect for dogs because they activate the animal’s chewing instinct and the right toy can distract him from chewing on other things. Some chew toys have grooves and ridges to massage the gums and remove dental plaque, so while doggie is having fun chewing he is taking care of his oral hygiene.
If you are looking for a tough chewing product there is the NYLABONE Durachew bone made from durable plastic and nylon. They can be flavored e.g. with peanut butter (allergen-free). The bone has ridges and knobs so that with the chewing action doggie cleans his teeth at the same time. Bones come in different sizes, for gentle to extreme chewers. I have heard of negative accounts of dogs chewing the nylabone apart too quickly and swallowing the pieces. Since this type of toy is not edible, some pet owners are afraid that swallowing pieces of it may harm the dog. But the package clearly states for which size of dog a particular bone is intended.
For pet owners who prefer ecofriendly and organic products there are several companies that offer natural and non-toxic dog chew toys:
Earth animal.com has products for pets that are veterinarian formulated, organic and comply with the highest standard of quality. The MULTIPET CHILLY BONE for puppies and adult dogs is freezable and promotes healthy teeth and gums. It is made from durable, natural and non-toxic materials.
Another great chew toy that your dog will love to gnaw on are elk antlers. Besides keeping the tartar off your dog’s teeth antlers are a great source of minerals. They don’t splinter and they don’t have that unpleasant odor as hooves or bully sticks.
Loofah Dental Dog Toy is made from natural and organic materials. When chewing on this bone-shaped toy your dog is practically flossing his teeth in a playful way. It can be used several times and if your dog swallows a piece it will not cause any digestive issues.
So, do I really have to brush my dog’s teeth?
Honestly, we never did and we have dogs (and they are mixed breeds) now several years old and their teeth are just doing fine. That’s just my opinion though, a vet would tell you differently. But the proper nutrition is important also, in general it is better to give your dog dry food instead of wet food because the kibbles are more abrasive and don’t get stuck in his teeth.
I should mention that certain dog breeds are more prone to periodontal disease and bad breath than others. Chihuahuas and other small breeds, short-faced dogs like English and French bulldogs and pugs usually struggle with dental issues. Dogs like shelties can have a genetic predisposition that affects their dental health.
If you own one of those breed you should pay special attention to their oral care and follow your veterinarian’s advice.
It helps tremendously to give your dog quality dental chews and treats on a regular basis. A nutritious chewing bone or other quality chew toy also helps to fight tartar and massage the gums. This is a good way to cut down on brushing teeth if you have to, because we know we have days with really busy schedules, right?