It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your pet’s well being. But just as oral care is a key part of human health, it is equally critical for dogs (and cats!). Taking care of your pooch’s precious chompers is not all that different from taking care of your own or that of your children. And of course, periodic vet exams of your dog’s mouth should be routine.
Vets agree that the single most effective thing you can do for your pet’s teeth is regular brushing. Use pet safe toothpastes specifically formulated for dogs (human tooth paste may be too harsh and abrasive). We carry and use petsmile. It fights plaque, bacteria, and doggie breath AND it comes in “Natural London Broil Beef flavor.” Um, yum? It is also the only toothpaste recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you’ll have to work up to it slowly. Initially, Sparky may be a bit wary about you handling his mouth and teeth in a weird way. At the beginning you’ll just need to get your dog used to you holding and opening his mouth. A good way is to turn your fingers into treats with a little gob of peanut butter. If your dog will only let you do a little bit, that’s ok. Break it up and do the rest on another day. If you can only get to it once in a while, that’s ok too. Any brushing is better than none.
Rinses and Water Additives
Chlorhexidine is a common anti-bacterial rinse that you squirt into your dog’s mouth. It binds to oral tissue, tooth surfaces, and plaque and lasts for 12 hours. wipes that you can use on the surface of your dog’s teeth. Anti-plaque water additives cut down on bad breath, plaque, and bacteria and offer ease and convenience, as you simply add a small amount to your dog’s water.
Diet and Treats
Some commercial dog foods are specifically geared towards tartar and plaque removal. Treats can also do the job. Canine Greenies is one popular brand of edible treats recommended by the VOHC. Rawhide chews are another VOHC recommended option. Cow hooves, dried natural bones, and hard nylon products are not suggested as they are too hard and can damage gums and teeth. For a full list of VOHC recommended products for dogs, click here.