10 dog friendly ways to clean their teeth
Teaching “sit” and “stay” are the easy parts of dog ownership.
Knowing how to take care of your dogs teeth? That’s a little trickier for most pet parents.
Appointed teeth cleaning with anesthesia does not come easy on your wallet and there are certain risks associated with medication. Brushing your dogs teeth every day with a special toothpaste and a soft toothbrush might be a cheaper and more permanent solution. However, your dog hates it and you end up chasing it around the house or covered in toothpaste after the battle with your pet in the bathroom. Even though desensualising your dogs to at least support someones fingers in their mouth is an essential thing making vets and your life much easier, some dogs might never be able to stand the sight of toothbrush.
Luckily, there are some other options that might help prevent tartar in the first place and the best part about it, is that your dog will do most of the work by itself.
Here are 10 ways to clean your dogs teeth that they won’t hate.
#1 – Healthy/natural diet
Most of the dog food companies and some of the shops which support them will try to convince you that dry kibble is better choice than the wet food, when it comes to your pets teeth. However, relying on kibble to keep your dogs teeth clean would be as effective as expecting your teeth to be spotless using only crackers and chips. Tartar, bad breath and other teeth related problems comes from incorrect diet. Might be that your pet is allergic to some ingredients in the diet you feed, the quality of commercial products is low or you feed your dog with food which is not suitable for pets (cooked, spiced or full of sugar and other substances). Fresher diets or high quality commercial food tend to improve overall health of your dog including its teeth and oral hygiene. Your task is to make sure your pet is not allergic to certain ingredients (it is possible to ask your vet to make the allergy test or you can experiment with different food) and plan its diet accordingly. Even though this step is not the actual way to avoid tartar formation, it makes other options mentioned here way more affective.
#2 – Dental chew toys
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to keep your dogs teeth clean is to gift them some chew toys. There are lots of toys on the market designed to encourage your dog to chew. You can try a variety of textures, sizes and toughness to find the one which your pet adores. Most of those toys works in the same principal as our toothbrush does. While dogs are enjoying their primal instinct to chew, the toy does the work – scrape the plaque from your pets teeth. It is one of the most accessible ways to make teeth cleaning a pleasure for your dog because you can find these toys in almost all pet stores or easily chose one from all the variety on the internet, just make sure you buy a good quality one which would not harm your pet. Despite the quality of the toys, your dogs should always be supervised when playing with chew toys to make sure they don’t swallow any large pieces.
#3 – Dental treats
This might be your dogs favourite one. They do love getting treats from you and as we might guess you like to give treats to your pet. You can always use this as an advantage. Instead of buying the usual treats you can invest in ones that are designed to fight plaque. It is also quite easy to purchase them in most of the pet shops as dental hygiene products. There is such a huge variety of dental treats that it starts to be difficult to determine which one to buy for your pet. You need to consider your dogs size, its favourite taste and potential allergies. Overall it is best to look for more natural dental treats lowering the risk for allergies. It might be tempting to buy dental treats in supermarkets or the ones on sale, but have in mind that your pet will eat those, so, make sure that treats are not expired and that the producer has a good reputation.
#4 – Raw bones
Most of the wild animals do not have a loving caretaker to keep their teeth clean and they need teeth in order to survive. Secret lies in hard raw meat and bones to chew on. So why not use the icon “the dog and the bone” to help our domestic mammals to connect to their wild side? Most of the dogs will go totally crazy just by the smell of the raw bone and dig in right away if you give it to them, but there are certain dangers involved that we need to consider before offering it to our pets. While cooked bones can splinter and cause all sorts of problems for your dog, raw bones are a safe and effective way to keep your pets teeth clean. You have to keep in mind that certain dog size requires certain bone. A chicken wing might cause some problems for big dogs while the small dogs might hurt themselves trying to deal with sheep leg. While all chicken wings are good for small dogs because birds have softer and easaier to chew bones, you might consider choosing certain parts of the bone when it comes to bigger animals. Avoid feeding cow, horse, buffalo or bison shank bones. They are often harder than dogs teeth and big dog might get carried away and break its teeth on the longbone. Instead it is adviced to choose bones of a lamb or a goat, or to give a big knucklebone to your pooch as long as it is a bit softer and still will do the job. Although bones can do a lot of good it is not a food for a dog, you might give it 1-3 times a week, but you need to continue on the normal diet plan as well. Bones are not advisable if the dogs are agressive chewers as long as they are trying to destroy the bone as fast as it is possible risking to damage their teeth.
Remember, never give your dog cooked bones! They can easily splinter and cause intestinal damage. To use this treat safely read: user instructions.
#5 – Bully Sticks
Raw bone is quite messy, chew toys are not as tasty and some dogs are just not into them and the dental treat does not provide your pet with desired occupation during the days when you do not have time to spare. Bully stick might provide you with the solution. What is a Bully stick? Bully Stick usually is 100% Beef Stick Dog Treat which is made from the pizzle or penis of the bull. Pizzles previously have been used for various purposes from making walking sticks to medicinal powders. What makes the Bully stick a better product for your pet it’s its safety. This chew treat is fully and easily digestible not like rawhide chew treats and depending on the dogs motivation to chew, can last from couple of hours to couple of days. There are various sizes so you might pick the one which suits your pet. Avoid buying this treat from chinese producers as a lot of them are not safety and low quality cooking methods of the product. Like with the chew toys you should supervise your dog while it’s chewing on the Bull Stick as some might swallow large pieces. Also these sticks are high in calories, so avoid overfeeding your dog.
#6 – Deer & Elk Antlers
Maybe the most unusual advice here is the deer and elk antlers. Although popularity of these hard chews are growing, there are a lot of things to consider before offering this treat to your dog. The up side of the antler is that it can last for couple of weeks and serve as an effective tooth cleaner. However, you must be very careful with this one. First of all the antlers are very hard material which means it is not suitable as a chew toy for agressive chewers as long as they are biting too hard and damaging or cracking their teeth; this toy can be used only for dogs which enjoys holding or gently gnawing on it. Other problem comes from the shortage of the supply. It is not made as most of chew toys, it does come from a wild animal, you have to be very careful when you buy these as there appeared a lot of sellers who are trying to sell old antlers which break easily and can cause health problems. Be aware of chinese production as it is really low quality. Other concern is that antlers are high in protein which can upset the stomach and cause diarrhea especially in young puppies. All causes considered if you decide to treat your dog for this unusual delight make sure to choose a product that is a naturally shed antler, and avoid velvet antler products which are cut from live animals as it is concerning wild life.
#7 – Water Additives
Water additives and at-home dental rinses are a relatively new development in pet dental health. Even though, there are many water additives on the market today, they all have slightly different formulations. Some contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener, which even in small doses is lethal for our furry friends. Even though vets agree that the dose of this chemical used in water additives is so small that it doesn’t pose a threat but it is always useful to know what is inside the bottle. There are two main types of the water additives: the ones which serve to soften the plaque and the ones which serves only as a breath freshener masking odor of bacteria; before buying, you should be clear on what you want it to do. Although water additives can’t replace the good old toothbrush, they can increase the effects of other mentioned methods.
#8 – Natural dental sprays
Dental spray is a similar product as a water additive or denal gel. It is by far a replacement for a toothbrush but it helps to soften plaque and avoid gum infections. If your dogs are willing to support you holding their lips up for long enough to apply the product, a natural canine dental spray might make a huge difference in dog oral hygiene. As long as you can manage to spray the product on the most affected teeth, it should do the trick. As a bonus, sprays often give your dog minty-fresh breath. Be avare of the product which has any type of alcohool in it, that might cause a serious poisoning for your goofball.
#9 – Tooth wipes
Tooth wipes are similar to baby dental wipes with the only difference thar they are designed specifically for dogs. Dental wipes have different textured surface which helps to reduce plaque and clean debris from your dogs teeth. It might be a great addittion to your pet oral hygiene, if it can support your fingers in its mouth but is terrified by the sight of a toothbrush. Wipes have antibacterial properties so not only they will help to clean the teeth but will also protect your pets gums from infections. Yet another advantage of these wipes is that they come in variety of flawoures which should help your dog to support this routine easier. Dental wipes, like spray or water additives, are not a full substitute of a toothbrush, but they ares a great stepping stone in introducing your dog to the oral hygiene. It might be a good idea to combine dental wipes with water additives in order to remove as much of the plaque as possible. Although, you should be careful as you need to put your fingers in dogs mouth, especially if you adopt an older dog as this action is not natural for them. Also make sure dog does not swallow the wipe as it is not edible.
#10 – Coconut Oil
The last point in this article is dedicated to seemingly the best remedy for everything – coconut oil. You want to make your hair nicer – coconut oil, you want to make your skin soft and healthy, you guessed right – coconut oil, digestive problems … again, COCONUT OIL! Apparently, it does not only help to keep your body and skin healthier, it can be great for your furry friend as well. The best part is that dogs go crazy for the taste so it is a perfect and quite affordable way to keep their oral and overall health better. Because of its antibacterial properties coconut oil can be used as a “homemade toothpaste” for your canine. Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Therapy For Pets, states, that coconut oil is safe to use for all children and a lot of animals including dogs. Research shows that coconut oil is well tolerated, even in toxicity studies where researchers fed huge amounts of coconut oil to animals. If your dog helped himself to a whole jar of coconut oil, the worst outcome might be diarrhea or loose stool, but it should not do more damage than that. There are a wast selection of coconut oil, you can esily buy one in supermarket, although, you should look for Extra virgin or virgin coconut oil, preferably organic and in a glass jar as plastic might react with oils and change their quality. Avoid buying RBD oil, as it was refined and filtered on the way losing part of its medical qualities.
Here’s a tip how to use coconut oil as a toothpaste: grab a healthy dog friendly vegetable like a carrot, poke some holes in it with a knife or fork and drip liquid coconut oil into the holes. Be careful not to poke your fingers as it is not a part of the recipie. Then throw the carrot stick in the freezer for a few minutes just enought to let oil harden but not make a popsicle of the carrot as that might result in sore throat for your pup. Secure a place for the feast with easy to wash blanket or other thing which will be easy to change, as your puppy is about to make a huge mess, which later will be difficult to clean otherwise. Now give the oily carrot stick and supervise the fun. You as well might try this with other dog friendly vegetables or fruits, just make sure to get the seeds out of them first.
All mentioned ways to clean your dogs teeth in a fun way does not replace the good old toothbrush, but if combined, can significally increase the oral hygiene situation and make the use of toothbrush less frequent. Also have in mind that each dog is different and a lot of things depends on its genes. What might work perfectly for one does not do much for other.
Although all these ways were recomended by people who were using them on their dogs it is strongly advised to consult your vet which way and which combination might be suitable for your dog to avoid possible allergic reactions or other health issues.