Every dog owner wants a healthy dog! Taking care of your furry friend includes taking care of their mouth, something many owners forget about. Of course, this means brushing their teeth and getting regular dental cleanings at the vet, but did you know your dog’s mouth health can be aided by dental chews?
Here’s why you should consider adding them to your dog’s diet and a few recommendations for some of the best!
Why Your Dog’s Dental Health Matters
Dogs’ teeth are often overlooked, but they’re an important aspect of your pup’s overall health! In fact, about 80% of pets will develop periodontal disease before they even turn 3 years old. And poor oral health can cause other issues, like:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
You can help avoid issues with your dog’s teeth by regularly brushing them, taking your dog to your vet for check-ups and dental cleanings, and using some recommended dental chews.
If you would like to schedule your next appointment for your pup’s dental cleaning or are concerned about their oral health, give us a call at 281-693-7387.
Why You Should Use Dog Dental Chews
Dog dental chews are just one part of ensuring your dog’s overall health, but they’re an important step—and one your dog is likely to enjoy. Over time, plaque builds up inside your dog’s mouth. Dental chews help reduce that plaque buildup by up to about 70%, and if the chew contains polyphosphate, it can reduce tartar by 55%. To be labeled an accepted product by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), a dog dental chew must reduce plaque or tarter by at least 10%.
Bonus! Dog dental chews are also known to reduce cases of bad breath.
The Top Dog Dental Chews
There are plenty of dental chews out there to choose from, but here are some of the top options on the market:
1. Enzadent Oral Care Chews (Recommended by Cinco Ranch Vet)
One of the dental chews we recommend the most is Vet Solutions Enzadent Oral Care Chews. Available in petite, small, medium, and large sizes, they work with your dog’s saliva and enzymes to break down any food left on the teeth. The beef hide they contain leaves your dog’s teeth clean and polished.
These chews can be given to your pup after meals.
2. Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Dental Care Chews (Recommended by Cinco Ranch Vet)
Another dental chew treat we recommend to our patients is Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care Chews. They’re shaped like a toothbrush and floss and are designed to clean the teeth and reduce bad breath. They are available in small and regular sizes, and come in a mint flavor.
These dental chews are approved by the VOHC, although they are not recommended for dogs under 10 pounds or younger than 10 months.
3. GREENIES™ Original Dental Chews
Used daily, they fight plaque, tartar, and bad breath and have ingredients that are easy for your dog to digest. In addition to the original flavor, try blueberry and freshmint flavors!
GREENIES also offers dental chews that work for weight management and hip and joint care, as well as grain-free choices.
Homemade Dog Dental Chews
Sometimes homemade is best! This can be true even for dog dental chews, especially if your dog is a picky eater.
4. DIY Dog Treat
This chew is similar to GREENIES but uses mint, chlorophyll, and homemade chicken stock and focuses more on combating bad breath in dogs than on reducing plaque and tartar buildup. Find the recipe here!
5. Doggie Pancake Breath Busters
This is another great recipe for freshening your pup’s breath. It makes about 30 biscuits and will have your dog’s breath smelling like mint. Check out this and nine other recipes here. If your dog isn’t a fan of pancakes, there are quite a few others to choose from!
Use Dog Dental Chews with Care
As with anything you feed your dog, it’s important to give them dog dental chews with care. While some are designed to be daily treats, read the label of anything you feed your dog, and look carefully at the ingredients. It’s also a good idea to ask your veterinarian for advice!
Just like regular dog snacks and treats, calories in dog dental chews add up quickly. If your pup is a huge fan of a particular chew, they could swallow it too quickly, before it can have any real benefit on their mouth. It’s important to find the right match for your dog and the right amount to give them, so they don’t pack on the pounds.
It’s also important to use the right size treats for your pet. For example, even the small version of Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care Chews are not for dogs under 10 pounds, while GREENIES Dog Dental Treats in petite size are perfect for dogs between 5 and 15 pounds. Giving your dog a treat that is too large can cause them to choke, and a treat that is too small may be swallowed without being chewed. Check with your vet if you’re unsure about the right size.
Other Fun Options for Dental Care
In addition to the top dog dental chews listed above, there are other treats and toys you can give your dog to aid their oral health. Rawhide chews are great for reducing plaque and tartar, although if your dog has diseased teeth, you may want to avoid hard bones and pigs’ ears.
Some kibbles are also designed to aid your dog’s teeth. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets and Science Diet Oral Care for Dogs are two choices that have been approved by the VOHC and are known to reduce tartar.
If your dog has a habit of eating dental care treats too quickly, look into toys! Kong and Gumabones are two recommended brands.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is an essential part of their overall well-being. Giving them dental chews, brushing their teeth, and taking them to regular dental cleanings at your vet are all great ways to avoid issues like gingivitis and periodontal disease.
If you’re worried about your dog’s dental health or they’re in need of a dental cleaning, schedule their next appointment with us!
Many pet owners don’t clean their pets’ teeth, but it’s essential to your animal’s health! Brushing their teeth may seem like an astronomical task—prying their mouth open, getting a toothbrush in, not getting bitten—but it’s quite easy and should be done regularly in addition to professional dental cleanings that ensure plaque and dental disease are kept at bay. Call us at 281-693-7387 to book your furbaby’s next dental cleaning! In the meantime, here are some ways you can keep your pets’ canines sparkling white!
Why Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth Is Important
Just like humans, cats and dogs can really benefit from regular teeth brushing. It helps remove the buildup of plaque and may even reduce the need for professional cleanings at the vet. Over 80% of pets will get periodontal disease before the age of 3, which can result in:
- Bad breath
- Tooth loss
- Pain while chewing
Poor dental health can also have an effect on the kidneys, liver, and heart, so it’s essential to your pet’s overall well-being that they have a healthy mouth.
Not sure if your cat or dog has issues with their teeth or gums? Peek inside! Tartar appears as a brown buildup, while gingivitis may be displayed by redness around the gum line.
If you spot your pet having difficulty chewing or notice missing teeth, it’s time for a trip to the vet. In cats, drooling is not normal and should be checked out.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
At first, brushing your dog’s teeth may be awkward for you and your dog, especially if they’re not used to it. That’s why it’s recommended to start early. But don’t worry! Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and your adult dog will be comfortable with the practice in no time.
Before brushing your dog’s teeth, gather the right materials, including:
- A dog toothbrush
- Dog toothpaste
- A finger brush
It’s important to never use toothbrushes or toothpaste that is made for humans. Flouride is an ingredient in most human toothpaste, and it is poisonous to dogs. Dog toothbrushes are also much softer than regular toothbrushes and specially angled for dogs’ mouths. Finger brushes work well for smaller dogs, generally under 30 pounds.
We recommend our clients and their pets try the Enzadent enzymatic’s tooth-brushing kit. It includes:
- A specialized pet toothbrush
- A finger brush
- Poultry-flavored toothpaste
If your dog doesn’t particularly like poultry, we also find that CET toothpaste works extremely well, and you can purchase it at our office! It’s available in poultry, vanilla mint, and beef flavors.
If you want to ty something completely homemade, a recipe of turmeric, parsley, and kelp will do the job.
Once you’ve purchased the materials, it’s time to start brushing:
Sit down or kneel in front of your dog. Make sure they’re comfortable; if they are at all anxious, wait to brush their teeth at another time.
Once your dog is comfortable, see how well they respond to your finger in their mouth, with just light pressure. This includes rubbing their upper gums and teeth.
If your dog appears uncomfortable, repeat this step at different times until they are okay with their mouth being touched. Then move on to Step 3.
Ensure that your dog prefers the toothpaste. This is another step that may take a few days. If they show no interest in licking the toothpaste off your finger in a few days, purchase a different flavor.
Once your dog is completely comfortable with the above steps, break out the toothbrush and lift your dog’s upper lip. For smaller dogs, use a finger brush.
Angle the toothbrush to make sure it reaches your dog’s teeth, gum line, and gums. Always use light pressure with small, circular brushes.
For the first few sessions, concentrate on only a few teeth at a time. On later days, you can try more and more teeth.
Note: If you notice light bleeding, it’s probably normal. If the bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop, you may be brushing too hard. It could also be a sign of gum disease.
More plaque will tend to accumulate on your dog’s canines and back teeth, so it’s important to give those extra attention when brushing. Always stop if your dog appears to be uncomfortable.
It’s a great idea to end the session with a treat or chew snack that promotes dental health, such as synthetic bones designed to strengthen a dog’s mouth.
How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
Brushing a cat’s teeth may seem a bit more complicated than brushing a dog’s, but just like a dog, it’s important to make sure your cat is comfortable above all else. It just may take them a little more time to adjust.
The materials you will need to brush your cat’s teeth are:
- A cat toothbrush
- Cat toothpaste
- A finger brush
Never use human toothpaste on a cat; it is harmful to their stomach. Cat toothbrushes tend to be smaller and softer than dog toothbrushes, but finger brushes work extremely well for cats and may be preferable. The Enzadent enzymatic’s tooth-brushing kit is also built for cats, as is CET toothpaste. Most cats like poultry flavors, but fish is another popular choice.
Don’t rush your cat. They will have to get comfortable with the process and maybe try out different toothpaste flavors before they’re comfortable with the process.
Here are some steps you can follow to make sure your cat’s dental health is taken care of:
Let your cat get comfortable. Often, you can hold them on your lap. If your cat becomes anxious or uncomfortable at any time during brushing, stop and try again later.
Raise your kitty’s upper lip, and begin to brush. You will want to brush downwards to remove food, plaque, and other items stuck in their teeth.
Once your cat’s top teeth are finished, move the lower lip and brush their bottom teeth in an upward motion.
Note: Always allow your cat access to a water bowl after you have finished brushing their teeth. The toothpaste is not harmful, but they will appreciate a drink!
For cats especially, you may want to consider brushing a few teeth at every session, stopping, and resuming the next day. You should also give your kitty a dental-friendly treat afterwards.
If you notice any issues with your pets’ teeth while you’re brushing, it’s important to call a vet right away. Dental disease is painful for cats and dogs and can interfere with their eating. And, of course, if you’d like our experts to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth, we’d be happy to!
Regular, professional dental-cleaning appointments are also important for your cat or dog’s overall health. Call Cinco Ranch Vet at 281-693-7387 to make sure their smile remains pearly white!