Why should I clean my dog's teeth?
We love our dogs, but probably not as much as they love us. In my house, my 130 pound German shepherd Maverick competes for attention with the humans (an extremely cute nine-year-old, an adorable seven-year-old and the person I made a commitment to cherish until the day I die), but in Mav’s eyes, it is clear that I’m his one and only. It is my duty as his person in life to reciprocate the love and affection he showers me with daily and that means lots of touch and sharing of personal space. Now, I’m a pretty tolerant person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the one thing that gets between the two of us is his frequent bad breath!
Why does my dog’s breath stink?
It turns out that the underlying cause of doggy halitosis are nasty microbes that ultimately form the plaque and tartar on his teeth. Humans deal with similar issues and combat them through a regiment of daily brushing and preventative dental treatments. Although Maverick is enrolled in the local Vet’s annual dental plan, he does a pretty poor job of brushing his teeth. To be honest, I do a pretty bad job of doing so too, because frankly, I don’t do it. He and I came to an agreement years ago that although he’s happy to put just about anything laying around in his month, my hand and a toothbrush will never get past the terrifying canines he’s only showed me the one time I tried. So, what is the best way to go about fixing the problem? What is the best product for the job if I don’t want to (or can’t) brush his teeth? And how is tartar different from plaque?
Dog dental health: plaque vs. tartar
It turns out the trick to getting rid of bad breath is to remove the plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth. Just like humans, dogs' teeth develop a soft slimy layer, called Plaque, on their teeth as they go about their day eating, drinking and enjoying life. If that plaque is left in place for too long it starts to harden and form tartar. Although plaque is easy to remove, tartar is not! Tartar is much more difficult to remove, can stain the teeth, and serves as a protective layer for the bad bacteria that can cause gum disease, gingivitis and tooth infection if left untreated. There is even convincing evidence that heart disease can result from a lack of good dental hygiene. So, what is the most important thing to look for when choosing an Oral Care product for your dog?
How to choose a dog oral care product?
Any good oral care routine requires three things:
- It must be easy for both human and dog to use.
- It needs to be something I can remember to do daily.
- It has to work! I’d also add that it should be a solution that not only has a positive impact on his breath, but also his long-term health and part of an overall lifetime wellness plan.
To accomplish all of the above, the focus of the solution needs to be on tackling tartar and not specifically plaque. More importantly, it should both prevent the formation of new tartar and break down any existing tartar. There are a lot of products that claim to help prevent plaque and tartar, but those claims could simply mean that the product helps remove plaque. It is incredibly important that you find a product that can honestly claim to break down and control tartar.
I personally love water additives. I find it very easy to add the recommended amount to Maverick’s bowl when I fill it and develop the routine. There are flavored options available that he loves, and most importantly they work! Within about a month I started to notice the existing tartar that was on his teeth flaking off and haven’t seen any significant development since. Needless to say, his last dental appointment went better than my own. Check, check and check.
Remember, the point of everything we do for our fur family members is to improve their quality of life and our life together, since the two are inseparable through their eyes. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my dog kisses to smell like something besides dried oysters and an ashtray! All fun aside, the best part in committing to a daily oral care routine for Maverick was knowing that I was being a better caretaker throughout the process. Using oral care products that he likes, that work effectively and are also easy for me to administer make it a win-win for both of us.
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