Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Doggie Breath

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.


Anonymous said...

Wow thanks for a very informative post! Our dogs have hollow bones that we stuff with pb or cheese and they love those. That seems to really help a lot in keeping their teeth clean and breath .. well not fresh, but not so bad!

Jess and Glacier said...

I like the hollowed out bones too. I like Nylabones-the toys-as well because those seem to cut down on the stinky breath as well...makes it a bit more tolerable. LOL

3 doxies said...

Okays, I sooooo didn't knows dis bouts da chewies...which we DON'T get! Brudder has to be watched to carefully cuz he is da alpha and thinks he can takes mine and sissy's and well mum don't wants a scuffle so we just don't gets 'em.
But, we brushes our teefies and we eats da hard food to helps da teefies too. And da Vet ALWAYS looks at our pearlie whites when we goes see him.
Dis was a very good post, thanks!

Tells Aria we has TONS of squirrels in our yard too and they pester me all da time.


L^2 said...

When I first got Willow I gave her a Greenie every now and then to help her bad breath, but then I found out how unsafe those can be and quickly stopped buying them. Since then, I haven't used any of the edible dental chews with any of my dogs, because of the low-quality ingredients and the additional calories they add to the dog's diet. Instead I've just used the various shapes of regular Nylabones, in addition to feeding dry food and brushing their teeth regularly.
Jack also enjoys the hollow sterile bones, but I guess I'm a mean dog mom though; I don't put anything into them, because in addition to being high-fat content treats, things like peanut butter and cheese aren't in any way going to improve the condition of a dog's teeth or breath (Plus, in my experience, rich foods like that can easily upset the dog's digestive tract when they're not used to eating these things on a daily basis).
As for bad breath - there are dental wipes on the market which are safe to use to wipe away some of the stinky bacteria that tends to collect on dog jowls. I've never tried them on any of my dogs, but one of my guide dog classmates was given a box of them for her dog, because he had horrendous breath, despite having clean, healthy teeth. She said they did help get him back to just normal doggy breath.

Amber DaWeenie said...

Thank you for all that information. I sure didn't know a lot of the stuff you mentioned.

Jess and Glacier said...

Puddles: we may just go back to no edible chews because they are poor quality-so don't worry you aren't missing anything. Aria thinks you and her should put your heads together and figure out how to conquer the squirrels...except ours are smart. They stay in the front yard and not in the back because that is where Aria goes out to play.
L^2 when I had Kyo he got peanut butter much more frequently than Glacier does. I was worried about the sugar content as well, so I ended up getting a high grade wet food and put that in and froze it. I factored those calories into his diet. A lot of people think that mixing wet and dry food into a dog's diet is good for them. I really don't know. I just know Kyo loved it and it reduced his sugar intake. LOL I thought about Greenies once as well, but was horrified at their ingredients. The edible chews are mostly for the little guys, since Glacier usually demolishes something like that in less than three minutes...its' kind of a waste of money for the big guys. Roscoe and Glacier just get sterile bones and Nylabones too. Oh and of course, teeth brushing. :)
Amber: No problem. I really had no idea either until I started doing some digging today. :) It was a little surprising, so I wanted to share.

Rudy - The dog with a blog said...

What a very informative post, thanks so much!

Rudy's Raiser

Jess and Glacier said...

You're more than welcome :)

Brooke, Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen & Canyon said...

I give Cessna greenies and busy bones as a reward for good work and great patience on the days I ask her to do tons. She doesn't get them often, but she loves them and we just keep in mind that teir ingredients aren't overly healthy :) As for keeping everyone's teeth cleaned, brushing was never a great success so we just make sure they have lots of toys with different materials and shapes to keep them clean. Phoenix is 14 and still has all (except one) teeth and they are great except for his canines are a little ground down from allowing him to still chew on real bones - we've decided not to say no at this age since he's on borrowed time anyways lol! I wonder if the Blue Buffalo chews are available in Canada...Phoenix has the gluten allergy as you know and still loves his greenie type treats, but we're down to one and aren't sure where to get them anymore...can you let me know if they're Phoenix approved? As for their kongs and bones we tend to fill them with peanut butter or wet food, but these aren't really in Phoenix's new diet so we've been thinking about filling them with some steemed and mashed veggies since that's part of his diet...veggies are also not as fattening and you know what's in them...