We love it when our doggos have that pearly white smile, don’t we? It means that their teeth and gums are in good shape and that’s a good indicator for their overall health.
But keeping those teeth nice and clean isn’t as easy as we wish it was.
Not everyone has the patience to brush their dog’s teeth and some dogs simply won’t tolerate a dental cleaning. Just because you can’t brush your dog’s teeth, however, doesn’t mean that you can neglect his dental health. We’ve put together six alternative ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean.
1. Water Additives
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to improve your dog’s dental health is to use a water additive. These additives may contain ingredients like enzymes that help to break down plaque while other ingredients help to freshen your dog’s breath. While veterinarians suggest that water additives are not a replacement for regular dental exams, they can help to prevent excessive plaque buildup. They change the pH of your dog’s saliva to help break the biofilm that leads to plaque and tartar buildup in the first place, and this can keep your dog’s teeth free from needing cleaning longer.
2. Food Additives and Supplements
In the same vein as water additives for your dog, consider food additives and supplements. More and more research suggests that gut health guides our overall health, and that of our dogs as well. That means it also guides our oral health and that’s why you see so many supplements out that go on foods to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and breath fresh. One we especially like is Bernie’s Perfect Poop. It’s not powder like many dental additives are; it’s more like crispies to top your dog’s food with. What we love, though, is that it’s a blend of a high-quality fiber, pre- and probiotics and digestive enzymes that all work together to give your dog his best gut health. How does that help keep his teeth clean, you ask? Simple. The digestive enzymes help break the food you give your dog down and leave less on the teeth. This means better nutrient absorption as well. The pre- and probiotics are key for keeping your dog’s gut healthy with good bacteria–not the stinky kind that overruns and then dies off in your dog’s gut and leaves rotten smells behind. Fiber helps reduce gas that sometimes misfires and ends up coming back up in the form of stank breath too.
2. Tartar Control Treats
Another option to help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth is to switch to tartar control treats. Again, these treats do not replace the need for regular dental cleanings, but they can help to prevent excessive tartar buildup. One thing to be aware of with dental treats is that they often contain more calories that you realize. Of course, this is true of most dog treats, but it could still become a problem if you are not careful. As with any treats, only offer dental treats to your dog in moderation.
3. Raw Bones
Dental treats are not the only way to help prevent plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth – you can also offer him raw bones. Before you go out and buy raw bones for your dog, however, you need to think about the right type and size of bone for your particular dog. If you buy your bones at the pet store they may be labeled to let you know what size dog they are recommended for. If you shop at the butcher or grocery store for your raw bones, consider lamb shanks and lamb necks because they are easy to digest and they provide excellent dental benefits.
4. Dental Foam
Just as water additives help to freshen your dog’s breath and keep his teeth and gums clean, dental foam provides similar benefits. To use dental foam you simply pull back your dog’s lips and spray it onto his teeth and gums. For the best results, look for an all-natural product.
5. Dental Toys
If your dog won’t let you brush his teeth, he will probably have no trouble accepting a new toy. There are many dog toys on the market that provide teeth-cleaning benefits for dogs. These toys work by gently scraping away soft tartar as your dog chews on the toy and they come in many forms including rawhide, nylon, and rubber.
6. Dietary Changes
In addition to switching to dental treats and bones, making changes to your dog’s diet can also help to improve his dental health. If you do your research you will find that many dog food manufacturers offer a dental health formula that includes larger kibble sizes to scrub plaque from the surface of teeth. If you are interested in switching to a dental health formula for your dog, look for a product that bears the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approval seal on the package.
Dental health is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Not only do you need to take your dog to the vet for regular dental check-ups, but you should consider employing some of the methods above to maintain your dog’s dental health in between visits.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.