Brushing your teeth is part of your daily routine – something that has become such a habit that you don't really think about doing it. For dogs and cats, however, dental hygiene is something that many pet parents overlook. Otherwise, “dog breath” wouldn’t be such an insult.
Even if it is not on pet parents’ daily radar, dental hygiene is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Several dental products are available to help you keep your dog’s teeth clean.
The Importance of Dental Hygiene for Pets
By the time they reach three years of age, most dogs and cats display some evidence of dental disease. Bad breath is just one of the many symptoms of this condition that pet parents overlook. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, occurs when bacteria in an animal’s mouth forms plaque, which sticks to the surface of the teeth and irritates the gums. The minerals found in your pet’s saliva actually harden the plaque into a substance called calculus, or tartar, which is even more firmly attached to the animal’s teeth. When calculus spreads under the gum line, bacteria can damage the gum tissue and lead to various symptoms including bleeding, inflammation of the gums, tissue or bone loss, and infection. Periodontal disease is very serious, but it is also entirely preventable.
Recommended Dental Products for Dogs
- Dog toothbrush – While you probably could brush your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush designed for humans, the task will be much easier with a toothbrush specially designed for dogs. These toothbrushes are crafted to fit a dog’s mouth and tooth structure for maximum efficacy.
- Dog toothpaste – Toothpaste for dogs comes in traditional paste form but also in spray or gel form – there are even brushless toothpaste options. Dog toothpaste is often flavored to make it more palatable to dogs. Look for one that contains enzymes that help break down plaque and tartar, but avoid toothpastes containing fluoride, which is bad for pets.
- Rawhide bones and chews – These treats, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, help to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth physically.
- Kong toys – Chew toys like Kong toys and other inedible toys can help to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. They are a good option for dogs that tend to go through edible treats very quickly.
- Greenies – These treats are a type of dental chew that is clinically proven to help control the buildup of plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth, maintain healthy gums and freshen his breath.
If you are serious about keeping your dog’s teeth clean, the dental products listed above will be very helpful. You may also want to think about switching your dog to a dental care diet. Studies have shown that dog food that contains polyphosphate helps to reduce tartar by more than 50%. Other studies have shown that larger pieces of kibble can reduce tartar buildup by more than 40%.
Maintaining your dog’s dental health is incredibly important and these dog dental products make it easier. Consult your veterinarian about your dog's dental care and check out our infographic on pet dental health for more tips.