Keeping your dog’s teeth white and shiny is more than a cosmetic need. Good dental hygiene preserves the quality of the teeth and gums, and it can even help lengthen your dog’s life. Preventive care limits the infections and other conditions that threaten your dog’s vital organs, and healthy teeth eliminate pain and suffering that come with dental decay.
Trick or Treat?
Can dog treats be good for canine pearly whites? Dog treats that promise dental benefits can actually improve your pup’s oral hygiene. While not all treats fit the bill, several have been designed to clean the teeth. Give these daily, and your tooth brushing may be easier. However, don’t depend on treats alone to provide adequate dental care. Make a habit of brushing your dog’s teeth every day, and use treats as a way to supplement your efforts.
Food for Thought
It’s logical that dry dog food (kibble) is better for the teeth than wet food. The texture of the dry food rubs on the teeth and gums, which can clean off residue. Soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth or get trapped in the gums and between teeth, which can lead to tartar buildup. Don’t expect dry food to be your only tool to fight dirty teeth, but it can play a critical role in your efforts.
Look for toys that encourage your dog to chew. Nylon bones make great dental tools, and as their edges show wear and tear, the nubs serve as a toothbrush. A butcher’s knucklebone is another good cleaning device, but avoid all bones that are brittle and easy to break (including chicken bones and small beef bones). Rawhide bones may help clean your dog’s teeth, but as they are used, they become sticky and stop helping. Rope toys make great tooth floss. Soak them in chicken broth or add some peanut butter to make them even more appealing to your canine friend.
Chew on This
Not all dog treats are created equally. Make sure that any treat you chose — even those designed for dental benefits — come from a reliable source. Check for “Made in America” labels on the box to ensure that the treats conform to manufacturing standards. In addition to benefits to the teeth and gums, chew toys help keep active dogs busy, yet controlled, and they help reduce anxiety.
Ask the Experts
The American Veterinary Dental College acknowledges, “Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends.” Take every measure to ensure that your dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy. Be aware of any trace of bad breath, discolored teeth, or pain exhibited when chewing. Your veterinarian can perform a tooth cleaning to remove the tartar buildup.
Preventative care, including brushing your dog’s teeth, is essential to your pet’s comfort and overall health. For a how-to on good canine oral hygiene, read our article on “7 Dental Care Tips for Dogs.”