Dogs always have stinky breath. It's partly due to the bacteria in their mouths that we as humans do not have, but if your dog's breath is "peel paint" bad, then perhaps it's time to invest in a doggie toothbrush. According to a bunch of different studies and websites I've read, about eighty percent of dogs are suffering from some kind of oral disease. It's no wonder though, people hardly take care of their mouths properly. How can they be expected to brush their dog's teeth?
I've always been aware of a dog's oral hygiene needs, especially after going to Leader Dogs for the Blind for the first time. They really stressed that we needed to brush our dogs' teeth and even made us practice.
As a kid, I thought that I should brush our yellow labrador's, Sasha, teeth. He was a ninety pound, healthy and lean boy who let little me do whatever I wanted to, including sticking a toothbrush in his mouth on infrequent intervals. I was six when we got him: I didn't understand consistency yet. My parents told me that he didn't need his teeth brushed, but as I grew older, I realised they were very wrong.
When we brought Doc home, we took him to the vet on the first Monday we had him. He was amazingly relaxed and willingly went along with what needed to be done. He didn't even flinch when they microchipped him. We were astonished. The vet told us he was a very healthy and beautiful boy, but there was one small concern. Doc is only eight months old and already shows signs of plaque build up on his back molars. We don't know if it is hereditary, or if it is because he was so long at the breeder's without things to chew on. We reassured the vet that we would take care of his teeth and I began an oral hygiene routine with him and our other guys.
Forget the brushing for now. We all know that there a million different tooth brushing products out there and I haven't entirely figured out which one works. All I know is that the toothpaste should have an active enzyme in it that will destroy any bad mouth funk. I want to talk about the chews that are available that claim that they will freshen your dog's breath or are specially designed to remove tarter build up. That's fantastic, but until I started looking today, I never realised how many of them have unhealthy ingredients in them. I don't know why I haven't looked before now; dog nutrition is important and anything you put into your dog's mouth for them to ingest is naturally a part of their nutrition. I'm not sure what possessed me to look up the guaranteed analysis of dog chews this morning, but I did and I was so disappointed.
Mr. K and I have been giving Doc a dental chew of some sort or another every day, just to help with those back molars. I started wondering what the impact of him eating something like that every day would be, so I Googled the one we are using right now. It is the Pedigree Dentastick. The shape is pretty cool and so I could see how the X shape would get in between their teeth and clean gums, but it is a cheaper product and I started thinking that I might be getting what I paid for. I was right. There is nothing nutritious about a Pedigree Dentastick. They haven't even infused them with vitamins. The first couple of ingredients horrified me. The first thing listed was flour, which was then followed by wheat, cellulose and Glycerin. These ingredients are known to cause Diabetes, nutrients absorption issues and allergies in dogs. I wouldn't feed myself these things, I shouldn't be feeding them to my dogs. A little concerned, but not surprised, I decided to try another chew.
Next, I went to Nylabone. I love Nylabone products. Their toys are some of the only toys, besides a select few Kong products, that Glacier can't destroy. I knew they had a new edible line out so I read up on those next. I only looked at the ingredients for the Original Mini chews, but the same ingredients as the Dentasticks popped up. I was shocked. Nylabone's toys are of fantastic quality, why would they use Cellulose which has been known to have cardboard in it? Nylabone edibles are considerably more pricey than the Dentasticks even though the quality is almost the same. Now, as I said, I only read the ingredients for the Original Minis, so if you want to get these products, maybe read the labels of the ones you are looking at. Maybe they are different? Hopefully.
After that surprise, I tried Blue Buffalo. They too have a new edible line out and I wondered what that looked like. They are similarly priced to the Nylabone edibles, so I was hoping for something of a bit higher quality. I was rewarded for my efforts. Glycerin was the only low grade ingredient present that was also in the other two products. The Blue Buffalo also includes ingredients that help with joint health and has a few added vitamins to help with your dog's over all health. I am still not sure these are the best chews on the market, but I will search until I find them and let you know.
The one chew that I know is quite healthy are Bully Sticks. Dogs love them, but there are a few drawbacks to them. First of all, some people are turned off by what they actually are and their odor. Bully Sticks are dried cow penis-hence Bully "stick." If you can get past that, they are quite pricey even when bought in bulk. My dogs love them and they are much better than rawhide or, as it would appear, any of the manufactured chews. They are, obviously, all natural and are completely able to break down in your dog's system. Rawhide do not break down properly and can block the digestive tract, including throats. I am not saying not to give your dog rawhide, but if you choose to do so, make sure you are supervising them. I personally would love to get Bully Sticks to compliment my dogs' oral hygiene routine, but they are just way too expensive to be an every day thing. So, for now, I will probably have to settle for Blue Buffalo's edible chews; at least until I find something else that is comparable to the Bully Sticks, but cheaper.