Whether you have a hectic schedule every day, or just too lazy to brush your dog’s teeth, you need to take care of his gums and teeth. So, you just give him a dental treat for conscience’ sake. Is that enough?
When to use dental treats
Veterinarians recommend a dental care routine that includes daily brushing and an oral exam at least once a year. Daily dental maintenance can be conveniently provided by feeding one dental treat per day. Just like in humans, plaque and bacteria develop in your dog’s mouth. If the plaque is not brushed or scraped away, it can turn into tartar in just 36 hours. Tartar build-up can lead to painful, inflamed gums, and opens the door to infection and periodontal disease. Dogs who chew actively have less plaque build-up. Some types of dental treats can reduce plaque by nearly 70%. The mechanical action of chewing can make a big difference.
How to use dental treats
Dog food and treats frequently boast their beneficial dental qualities. When it comes to dental benefits and the different sources, not all claims are created equal, and therefore different approaches to dental hygiene must be considered for you to holistically care for your pet’s dental health. Whatever you choose, it is always better to choose a product that has been studied and proven to have dental benefits by an accredited company. Also consider the size of the treat – if your pet gulps it up in a few seconds, it probably didn’t have much chance to do widespread work. Your pet will probably not mind eating numerous treats to maximise the cleaning potential, but you don’t want to trade clean teeth for obesity.
Combatting bad breath
It is not uncommon for a dog’s breath to be slightly unpleasant. This is the result of bacteria build-up in the mouth and can be a sign that your dog needs better dental or gum care. It is always a good idea to check with your vet to make sure bad breath is not a sign of an underlying medical problem. Remember that regular, professional evaluation and dental cleaning at your local veterinarian is in some severe cases the only way to manage periodontal disease. Dog and cat dental treats and special diets do provide some oral benefits, but using them comes with precautions.
Signs of oral problems in dogs and cats
- Bad breath.
- Build-up of saliva, bacteria and food on teeth (plaque).
- A hard yellow or brown residue on teeth (tartar).
- Swollen, bleeding or irritated gums.
Different types of dental treats and diets
Dental chews, bones and biscuits NEVER use bones with the excuse that is good for your dog’s teeth. Every year thousands of dogs die due to complications caused by bones. Be a responsible pet owner. DO NOT GIVE BONES!
Dental diets Dog and cat food formulations that specifically help reduce plaque and tartar. Food can be made into larger kibble or a texture that resists crumbling, which creates a scrubbing action, and can lead to a reduction in tartar. Coating the pellets with a chemical substance called polyphosphate further helps to reduce tartar. Ask your vet about these and other special dental diets available only through the veterinary market.
Dog chew toys Although not edible, chew toys such as Kong toys may be a good choice, especially for dogs who chew through edible treats too quickly or in cases where you need to take the calorie content of the treat into consideration.
Make the right match – considering your pet’s size, preferences and personality.
Limit edible treats Depending on the type of treat, it may not encourage chewing and can also be high in calories. In general, the smaller your pet, the fewer treats.
Avoid hard bones and pig’s ears If your dog has diseased teeth, he is likely to break them on hard chews, hard plastic bones, sterilised beef bones or cow hooves. Fresh bones with meat and cartilage may be easier on the teeth, but should not be used, due to the risk of bacterial contamination or the ingestion of sharp bone fragments by aggressive chewers. Although pig’s ears are often a favourite of dogs, studies have not shown them to offer any dental benefits. They can also be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
Always be careful with chews. Should your pet be an aggressive eater, he can swallow large chunks or, even worse, swallow the chew, which can cause an obstruction. Never leave your pet with a chew unattended, and remove it when it gets too small or develops sharp edges.