The Basics All Dog Owners Should Know About Dental Care
Dogs use their teeth A LOT more than humans do – from eating and playing, to moving things about their space. Essentially, the importance of their mouth is akin to our hands. So, maintaining the health of your dog’s teeth, gums and jaw is a paramount job as a pet parent.
And while many dog owners have heard about the importance of their pet’s oral health, most don’t perform the daily cleanings that their dog really needs. The good news is, there are great alternatives to deliver ongoing teeth cleaning measures for your dog, and they might even enjoy it! Read on to learn more about optimal dental health for your dog, and how to meet their daily teeth cleaning needs.
Why Is Dental Health Important for your Dog?
First, it’s important to understand why dental health is so critical for your dog’s overall health. Dogs, like humans, can develop tooth disease and decay if left untreated. Dogs typically experience plaque and tartar buildup. If it reaches under the gumline, this can turn into tooth decay, gum disease or worse. This can happen as early as 3 years old in some dogs with untreated oral health issues. Some common gum diseases that dogs can develop include:
- Bad Breath
- Periodontal Disease
- Cysts and Tumors
- Proliferating Gum Disease
But the good news is, this can be prevented by maintaining normal teeth cleaning routines!
Preventing Tooth or Gum Disease in Your Dog
There is no better care for your dog than preventative care. Many tooth and gum diseases in dogs can be prevented with normal cleanings. This includes both in-office and at-home cleanings – just like we do for ourselves.
First, schedule annual teeth cleanings with your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. During these appointments, the doctor will thoroughly clean your dog’s teeth, removing plaque, tartar and scaling. They can also target below the gumline and may even take x-rays to ensure the health of your dog’s teeth in areas that we cannot see.
Maintaining Dental Health Between Cleanings for your Dog
Remember that maintaining dental health between cleanings will help prevent dental disease in your dog. The best ways to maintain your dog’s dental health at home includes:
- Brushing regularly. Brush your dog’s teeth with a dog toothbrush or finger brush, and use toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Never use human toothpaste as the chemicals can be dangerous for dogs. Try to brush your dog’s entire mouth – starting slowly if they (like many dogs) don’t love the process. Do this ritual as often as they will tolerate it, with daily brushings being the goal.
- Dental Treats. Dental treats made specifically for dogs helps remove buildup on teeth and can help improve your pet’s breath due to their breath-freshening ingredients.
- Chew Toys. Chewable toys are a natural way for your dog to clean their teeth – which helps scrape plaque and buildup from the exterior of the tooth during playtime. Rotate chew toys often to help keep your pet engaged. All-natural chews – those made from meat or animals – contain enzymes and nutrients that help promote dental health as well. But beware: products like rawhide chews can actually be dangerous for your dog as they present a gastrointestinal hazard, while also being laden with harmful chemicals. More on that below.
- Eat All-Natural. Chowing down on healthy dog foods will also help prevent plaque and tartar buildup, so feeding your pet organic, all-natural, non-GMO pet foods and treats is one of the best ways to prevent oral decay. If you’re feeding them a wholesome diet from Health Extension, you are already assisting them in meeting their dental goals!
Recognizing Tooth or Gum Disease in your Dog
Now that you know how to help prevent tooth and gum disease in your dog, it’s important to be on the lookout for warning signs as well. In general, this is how a healthy dog’s mouth should look:
- Clean, free of plaque or tartar buildup
- No jagged or broken teeth
- Gums should be pink – not red, white or black (but be aware of your breed’s specific gum color as it can vary)
- Be on the lookout for lumps, discoloration, swelling, sores or a change in smell
Signs of Dental Issues in your Dog
The following list includes warning signs that your dog might be battling a tooth or gum disease:
- Bad breath
- Broken or loose teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
- Irritability related to tooth or gum pain, soreness or discomfort
Decreasing the Risk of Oral Disease with Organic Pet Chew Toys and All-Natural Dental Treats
The best way to easily preserve oral health for strong teeth and healthy gums is to offer dental care to your dog on a daily basis. And you may have guessed that brushing is the best solution for this, but for sensitive dogs, or for parents who can’t offer daily cleanings, there are other great alternatives as well. You can do this by feeding them dental chews and offer them all-natural chew toys for playtime. Here are our favorite grain and gluten-free dental bones and all-natural chew toys:
These all-natural dental bones are formulated with kelp and parsley to freshen breath, while the texture helps scrub plaque and tartar off teeth. Our Fresh Breath Dental Bones are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids – like all Health Extension pet foods and treats. Plus, you can purchase them in three convenient sizes: 3, 8 and 14-pack varieties!
Flavored Dental Bones
Offering the same benefits as our Fresh Breath Dental Bones, these flavored varieties, available in peanut butter and cheese, are the perfect refresher for daily enjoyment. Parsley and kelp provide breath-freshening-benefits, while the flavor component will have your dog looking forward to their daily dental “cleaning!”
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, we have the perfect daily chew for you. Our Probiotic Dental Bones are made with real yogurt that’s loaded with prebiotic and probiotic ingredients for digestive health. These include all the great ingredients of our other Dental Bones, and like the rest, are a great low-calorie treat – free from grains and glutens.
Why You Should Never Feed your Dog Rawhide
Rawhide has long been the go-to product for daily chews, but the truth is, they simply aren’t any good for your dog. First and foremost, rawhides present a choking hazard or intestinal blockage for many dogs if they are not broken down enough for ingestion. This is especially true for aggressive chewers who break off large pieces of rawhide to swallow.
Then there are the chemicals used to prepare the hide itself. Harsh chemicals are used to delay decomposition of the hide before it gets to the manufacturing process. Further chemicals are used to separate the fat and hair from the hide, too. You can expect most rawhides to hit the store shelves with latent chemicals you wouldn’t want your dog to ingest. The best solution is to avoid traditional rawhides altogether. And the good news is that there are great all-natural alternatives.
What are some rawhide alternatives?
Our all-natural, free-range and naturally shed Elk Antlers are a customer favorite, both for their quality and key nutrient content. Unlike other animal chews, Elk Antler Natural Chews will not chip, splinter or peel. Plus, they are an excellent natural source of calcium, glucosamine, iron and potassium – similar to those found in bone and joint support supplements. And since we know your dog can be picky about their treats, we offer our Elk Antlers in whole or sliced varieties!
Combining all the benefits of a great dental chew AND a long-lasting chew toy is our all-natural Bully Stick. These high-protein chew toys scrape away tartar and plaque from the gumline, while delivering high-quality nutrients found in the free-range, grass-fed beef they’re derived from. Choose between our 1, 4 and 8-pack varieties (now in curly varieties, too!) for weeks of dental delight!
When it comes to flavor, our Yak Cheese is a pet favorite. Bursting with cheesy goodness, these chews are simply delicious and made with just 4 simple ingredients: Yak, cow’s milk, lime juice and salt!