doggie dental health made simple

Visiting the dentist is a routine part of our lives, but we often forget that our dog’s dental health is also extremely important.

Just like us, dogs lose their teeth, suffer from bad breath, and are prone to plaque and bacteria buildup in their mouths. While some dogs are more compliant than others, all our furry companions deserve the best dental care they can get.

Preventative measures

When left untreated, plaque on a dog’s teeth leads to tartar, which can result in painful swelling of the gums. Sound familiar? Oral health in dogs is important for the same reasons it’s important for humans. The difference is that dogs can’t brush their own teeth, and that’s where we come in!

There are numerous products available that make caring for your dog’s teeth a breeze. However, not every method works for each individual pooch. Certainly, some products are superior to others, so it’s important to educate yourself on which ones are the healthiest, easiest, and most effective for your dog. When ignored, your dog’s teeth and gums will likely experience problems somewhere down the line. Even if you have a puppy with exceptional pearly whites, take action to prevent future problems and stop pesky plaque in its tracks.

Brushing blunders

Due to humans’ expertise with the practice, brushing a dog’s teeth might seem like the obvious course of action. But while brushing your furry companion’s teeth is certainly an option, they may not always approve – not to mention certain components in human toothpaste is highly toxic to dogs. If you do want to give brushing a try, invest in the proper equipment. Pick up a doggy toothbrush designed to fit dogs’ mouths, and special canine toothpaste that comes in flavours like peanut butter and poultry to appease your dog’s taste buds.

If your furry friend resists the brush, don’t fret! There are several other (much simpler) ways to care for your dog’s teeth, including treats, toys and oral sprays. Brushing is both time-consuming and oftentimes risky if you have a dog who is less than comfortable with you poking around in his mouth. If it’s just not working, set the brush aside and experiment with something different.

No brushing required

If you thought your dog’s chew toys were merely for entertainment – think again. Every time he gnaws on his ball, your dog is brushing his teeth. As great as this is, not all toys have this “cleaning” effect, so look for toys made of rubber, nylon, or rawhide.

While treats designed to clean your dog’s teeth boast many benefits, some large dogs gobble them down too quickly for it to have any effect. Another downfall? Throwing your dog these treats too often might mean clean teeth, but you’ll pay the price of having a pudgy pup. While they’re great every once in a while, opt for a dental care option that isn’t going to result in switching to a low-calorie diet.

Sprays are one of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective options when it comes to doggy dental health. Easy to administer and accomplished faster than you can say “squeaky clean”, a quality oral spray will clean your dog’s teeth, remove tartar, and freshen their breath.

The natural path

Over the past ten years, the desire for all-natural health products has increased significantly. More recently, the market has expanded to include not only human health products, but all-natural products for pets. This desire to “humanize” our dogs is a rapidly growing trend, as pet-owners seek products that boast the same holistic benefits as their own. As further evidence trickles in, many households have switched to a strict all-natural regimen for themselves and their furry family members in an effort to improve their well-being and increase their lifespan.

“More people are turning to a more holistic view of healthcare for themselves with more awareness being brought to light re:  GMO vs Organic, overuse of pesticides and hormones in our food chain, etc. and are beginning to translate this knowledge to their pets care,” says Becki Selby, a groomer who also serves as a distributor for LifeFORCE Pet Health Products. “Pet owners have a hard time budgeting for unexpected vet care (such as costly dentistry) and actively try to maintain health at home as much as possible.  We are looking for balance when taking care of our pets and if we can accomplish that without the use of chemicals and use medicine that nature provides us that is always the right choice.”

When searching for a quality oral care product for your pet, take time to read the labels to see every ingredient used, and do some research to determine the benefits of the blend. Avoid products containing alcohol which is dangerous for pets in any amount, increasing the acid levels within their system which lead to alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA), a life-threatening syndrome with symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, and extreme fatigue. Look for products with a short list of ingredients (less is more!) and be wary of products with no ingredient list at all.

Not sure what you’re looking for? The components of oral care products are arguably more important than any other health product because they’re going in your dog’s mouth. Here’s a list of a few ingredients that are extremely beneficial:

  • Neem Oil – With its antiseptic, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, you can say goodbye to smelly dog breath!
  • Clove Oil – Powerful pain reliever, plus anti-inflammatory properties excellent for preventative use.
  • Peppermint Oil – Another breath freshener with antiseptic properties to eliminate bacteria and leave that minty fresh scent.
  • Aloe – A “superhero” plant composed of 99% water that will repair and soothe your pup’s gums.

Whatever method of oral care you’ve chosen for your pet, establish a dental care routine so that they know what to expect. This will help them remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the process. If you’ve chosen a hands-on approach like brushing, take it slow. Touch their gums to test their reaction and avoid getting bitten, as even the gentlest dogs can nip if they’re caught off-guard. If they seem anxious, back off and try again later or opt for using a spray instead. Always be sure to end on a positive note – praise your dog for good behaviour so she views it as a fun activity rather than something to be feared. If you haven’t already, consider hopping on the all-natural train to prevent unnecessary veterinary costs, provide the very best for your pet, and ensure that their smile is as clean and bright as your own!


Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.