It is recommended that dogs teeth should be brushed twice daily. Who has the time to brush their dog's teeth every day, especially if you have multiple dogs or a dog who hates having their teeth brushed? This is why 80% of dogs over the age of three have some level of periodontal disease. Tooth and gum disease is called the silent killer because it can lead to heart, kidney and liver disease, oral and nasal infections, bone loss and oral cancer. Here are some ways to keep plaque at bay between cleanings.
Before being domesticated there was no one brushing the teeth of wolves or dingos. Their diets consisted of meat, bones, and fur all of which brushed and flossed their teeth naturally. Kibble and wet foods are too soft to actually clean dogs teeth. The best kind of bones for cleaning dogs teeth depends on the size of your dog and their chewing power. Perfectly Rawesome has lots of information on which bones are safest for different size dogs. Never feed cooked ones! Bones are not only good for dogs because it cleans their teeth, it also provides valuable nutrition such as calcium and phosphorus, it is good mental and physical stimulation and lowers their heart rate which helps them relax. Using bones to clean your dogs' teeth is much less stressful on both the dog and the owner.
By now you've probably heard that coconut oil has many health benefits. It's not just good for digestion, the immune system, metabolic function and weight loss, skin and coat health and thyroid health but it also good for teeth. Coconut Oil contains Lauric acid which has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. You may have heard of pulling; swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth or 15-20 minutes to kill bad bacteria, which reduce plaque and curbs gingivitis. While you're not going to be able to get your dog to do that, you can rub it on their teeth and gums or add it to their food. Some people even suggest soaking your dog's toys in it. Coconut oil is all around healthy for dogs and humans, but due to its high-fat content should not be overdone. A good starting dose is a ¼ teaspoon daily for small dogs up 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily for big dogs.
Home-made Breath Bites
Many companies make dental treats that claim to be natural and healthy but are filled with wheat flour/gluten, glycerin, potato/corn starch, cellulose, and other ingredients that aren't healthy at all. The wheat/corn/potato starches are fillers and can actually make your dog stick. Instead, make your own at home. This recipe from Diy Dog Mom is one of my favorites because it contains no starches and doesn't require baking. For a treat that doesn't need to be kept in the fridge these are a great option.
Antlers, Horns, Hooves, Himalayan Chews are a few of the harder chews available for dogs. These types of chews tend to be controversial as they are harder than dogs teeth and can result in cracked teeth. A quick google search leads you to warnings that they can cause broken teeth, but look on Amazon and they have mostly positive reviews. They are longer lasting than any other treats and don't make as much mess or smell as bad. These are not a good choice for puppies due to their soft teeth and aggressive chewers who are more likely to bite down too hard. Always supervise your dog to prevent injury or choking. Take away small pieces that can be swallowed and throw away the bone if it starts to crack.
Considered to be a safer choice bully sticks, pig/cow ears, are digestible and nutritious. They are softer so they are suitable for puppy and dogs that chew hard. Dehydrated tracheas are high in both chondroitin and glucosamine which promote joint health. On the downside, they don't last very long and can be quite messy. Check where the treats were made as many countries don't have as strict laws on pet food and void rawhides as they often contain bleach and adhesives,
Many commercial treats are filled with fats, sugar, and grains which are bad for dog's teeth. Instead try apple slices, carrots or frozen vegetables. Dehydrated meats and sweet potatoes will make a safe treat your dog will love! Any low sugar fruit or vegetable makes a great healthy snack that's good for more than just cleaning their teeth.
There are many different types of water additives and sprays on the market, some of which have great reviews. Most of these contain ingredients you would have to look up. These chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucosal lining of the gums. That's why I prefer to make my own at home using green tea, mint, and parsley. Studies have shown that drinking green tea reduces bacteria and acidity in the mouth promoting healthier teeth and gums. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that is good for the whole body and may even reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. Green tea does contain caffeine which can result in hyperactivity or restlessness so be sure to use the decaffeinated kind. Mint contains high levels of vitamins A, C, B6, folate, and riboflavin in mint are all essential for overall health, as well as for maintaining periodontal health and fortifying bone mass. Calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese are all essential minerals in the formation and maintenance of bone density in the teeth, jaw. Both Parsley and mint contain monoterpenes which help freshen breath. Simply brew green tea, parsley, and mint in hot water, allow to cool, strain, then add to your dog's water or over their food.
While there are many toys on the market that will help clean your dog's teeth as long as they chew on it, one, in particular, is getting a lot of attention. By now you have probably heard about the Brite Bite invented by Pretos Dertsakyan after losing his childhood dog to oral disease. Add coconut oil to the inner groves and watch your dog go to town, it only takes 3 minutes a day!
None of these will replace actually brushing your dogs teeth which should be done as often as possible to keep your dogs teeth healthy. Always supervise your dog especially with new items and diet changes. Know your dog and only give them the right size and strength toys for their chewing style.