by Cate Burnette, RVT
Your challenge as a pet owner is how to keep your dog’s mouth and teeth clean, fresh smelling, and free of disease-causing bacteria when work or kids (or both) demand your attention, and free time is at a premium.
Video: Canine Dental: Taking Care of Your Dog's Teeth - VetVid Episode 001
While neglecting your pooch’s teeth is not necessarily an option, there are ways to cut corners without spending time or money at the vet clinic until it is time for her annual check-up. We’ve given you five of those options below.
In about 5 minutes of your time, brushing your dog’s teeth at home on a daily basis helps eliminate plaque, lessens tartar build-up, and keeps her breath smelling nice. Additionally, at-home cleaning reduces the amount of bacteria that can create diseases in your pup’s mouth and internal organs. You’ll need a regular doggy toothbrush small enough to fit comfortably inside her mouth, plus canine toothpaste like an all natural, vanilla-flavored toothpaste.
All-natural water additives can be poured directly into your dog’s bowl so that whenever she takes a drink, their various organic components can freshen her breath and loosen any food particles or plaque build-up attaching to her teeth. Those additives containing fatty acid salts can inhibit the growth of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, while added baking soda fights bad breath and removes plaque and food particles.
Raw beef bones not only serve your dog as a tasty treat full of minerals and other necessary nutrients, they also work with your pup’s chewing action to help keep her teeth clean. The friction caused by her teeth working the hard surface of the bone scrapes away any left over food particles, dental plaque, and prevents tartar build-up. Additionally, certain protein enzymes found in raw bones work to inhibit the growth of oral bacteria, thus keeping your dog’s breath smelling fresh.
We recommend asking your butcher for beef knuckle bones or checking with your local deer processing plant for venison bones when in season.Make sure the bones are too large for your pooch to fit the whole thing in her mouth to prevent her swallowing and choking on it. You’ll want to clean most of the meat away from the bones unless you feed a raw diet. You’ll also need to make sure the bones are fresh and have been refrigerated to prevent your dog picking up salmonella. Note: Even though some websites say that raw chicken bones are okay to give your dog, we don’t recommend them. Even raw, they can still splinter with sharp edges and can easily penetrate your dog’s soft esophageal, stomach, and intestinal tissues.
Hard Veggie Treats
Hard vegetables and fruits are another type of treat that can help clean your dog’s teeth. Raw carrot chunks, raw broccoli and cauliflower, uncooked bites of sweet potato, and hard green apple bits all serve to rid her mouth and teeth of plaque and tartar, as well as providing extra vitamins and other nutrients necessary to keep your pooch healthy. Try substituting raw veggies for processed cookies and meaty treats and see how your dog takes to them. Note: Don’t give her onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocado, tomatoes, or citrus as these foods may upset delicate digestive systems and some are known to be toxic.
Dental chews have been around for a while and work much the same as raw bones and hard vegetables in keeping doggy teeth clean and free of plaque. Ask your vet for recommendations, or go online and look for chews that have been clinically tested and proven to reduce tartar build-up. Look for those chews manufactured in sizes and shapes to fit your dog’s mouth and those containing supplemental vitamins and minerals.
Dental Wipes are textured cloths that have been pre-moistened with ingredients to help remove plaque and tarter. For many dogs with smaller mouths, this is the way to go. Also, dogs that resists brushing may be more likely to allow the owner to wipe their teeth over using a brush.