Are You Keeping Your Dog’s Pearlies – White?

Most dog owners take their dog’s dental health for granted because of  “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.   They then discover years down the road, that their dog has a serious dental issue which usually results in damage to the dog’s mouth and costly vet bills.

Brush, Brush, Brush!

To head off these issues, a simple canine finger brush is a great tool in aiding you in keeping Fido’s pearly whites white.   Most of your dog’s tartar buildup happens on the side of his teeth closest to the tongue and cheeks – not the inside surfaces of teeth.  This makes your job a whole lot easier.  By cleaning Fido’s teeth just 2 to 3 times a week you can save your dog lots of pain and your wallet lots of money.  The frequency of your cleaning schedule for Fido’s teeth will probably end up correlating directly with his willingness to allow you to clean his teeth with a toothbrush or finger brush.   Dogs that don’t mind the process make it a much easier experience for the owner which usually results in more frequent cleanings by the owner, compared with the dog who hates it and fights with the brush and causes an exhausting struggle with the owner.  If you have acquired a young dog it is best to get them used to accepting your finger without anything on it in his mouth and rubbing his gums gently will prove to him that it is painless and can be pleasant.  Then, the next step would be to move to a finger brush which you place over your finger and add some yummy flavored doggie toothpaste.  There are doggie tooth pastes available which are meat flavored like chicken or beef.  It is very important to make sure that you use dog toothpaste and not human toothpaste as a human toothpaste tends to foam and causes stomach upset because your dog is naturally going to ingest some of it while brushing.

To “Go Raw” Or Not?

Smaller dogs seem to be more prone to dental problems then bigger dogs.   This can be a genetic issue or because smaller dogs have a tendency to be more finicky in nature which can result in their owners trying to feed them canned foods and diets that contain carbohydrates and higher amounts of sugar.  This is why many dog owners opt to “go raw” because feeding your dog whole chicken necks and wings or the type of food that requires true chewing, helps to lessen plaque buildup in the larger bone crunching breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds.  Owners of smaller dogs (like French Bulldogs) can find that their teeth tend to be more crowded together which can make brushing or cleaning even more difficult.


Commercial Kibble – Not What It Seems

Many pet food manufacturers in today’s day and age promote their dry crunchy kibble products saying that they are capable of cleaning teeth but the fact is that dogs don’t actually even crunch the kibble with their teeth.   I know this because I have seen many clients’ dogs vomit and regurgitate their kibble and almost always that kibble returns in the same exact form that it was consumed in – round pellets.  Therefore, there is no way the pellets could have even remotely cleaned the dogs’ teeth because they were never chewed and simply got swallowed whole.  Not to mention that most kibbles are processed simple carbohydrates, and carbohydrates convert into starches and sugar, especially when they meet the gum line of the dog where the likelihood of tartar buildup and ultimately periodontal disease over the long-term takes place!

In contrast raw diets or home prepared diets do not seem to contribute to the same level of tartar buildup as the processed store-bought dry foods.  Fresh, minimally processed pet food diets cause almost no tartar buildup.  In some cases if you have not maintained your dog’s teeth and tartar buildup is severe, then your dog may require a professional cleaning by a veterinary dentist.   This will at least give you a clean slate to start oral care with, but it is much better to get into good habits early on with your dog and incorporate fresh foods and bones when appropriate.

Bones To The Rescue

I like to give my dogs’ fresh raw beef marrow bones or what some people refer to as soup bones.   My dogs love having a fresh raw bone to chew on not to mention it provides me with hours of free time because my dogs are engaged in chewing and working on getting the marrow out of the center of the bone.  I have come to realize over the years, that the action of the bone against their teeth and them pulling off any scraps of meat that might be hanging onto the bone reduces plaque build up.  The pulling and tugging off scrapes off any developing tartar and even cleans between their teeth because the sinew and connective tissue attached to the bone acts as a natural floss!  Keep in mind that you won’t see results immediately – but offering a good bone to chew on two or three times a week will help your dog with dental health.

As always whenever you introduce a new toy or a new concept like a nice raw meaty marrow bone you should plan on monitoring your dog closely so that you can establish how aggressively he chews in order to make sure he does not damage his teeth with overaggressive chewing.

My Final Thoughts

Ultimately, whichever way you approach your dog’s dental health will depend on what you are most comfortable with as an owner and the time that you were willing to spend.  The key thing to keep in mind is prevention is far better than cure and your job as his caretaker is to reduce the risk of plaque buildup for your dog and the expense to your wallet compared with a visit to the vet for major dental work and the risk of having to have teeth pulled in the end.

I would love to hear your comments, feedback stories and ideas.

Scoops is a pooper scooper, dog waste clean up and pet waste clean up service located in central New Jersey – Check us out at

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