By Amy O'Connor
My dog, Biscuit has a permagrin and though it’s on account of an underbite that won’t win her any ribbons in a dog show, her snaggle-tooth smile is part of what makes her so endearing. Adult dogs have 42 teeth, and sadly 80% of dogs over the age of three have some degree of dental disease. Infected gums and teeth can lead to infection of the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints. Making use of a few products as part of your dog’s daily routine can help maintain your dog’s oral health and forestall the need for expensive teeth cleaning at the vet’s office.
Chewing is one of my dog’s favorite activities, and I always look for items that are safe for her to chew that will take her attention off my shoes or the cedar blocks in my closet. A DuraChew Textured Bone from Nylabone is a great item because it’s made from a durable, hard, plastic with grooves and nubs, can easily be held between paws, and is designed to clean teeth while promoting safe, healthy chewing.
Available online at Dog Supplies and at Happy Paws 316 Lafayette Street (212) 431-6898.
What dog isn’t 100% compliant with any routine that involves eating? My dog loves Nutri Dent Edible Dental Chews from Nylabone regardless of the fact that they’re good for her dental health. Though they’re made with no added salt or sugar, no preservatives and are gluten free, I have to hide the bone-shaped treats with nubs on one end since Biscuit cries for them if they’re in sight, (she must love the filet mignon flavor), and two a day is enough to help reduce plaque and tartar and freshen breath. It’s nice to know that a tasty treat can also improve your dog’s oral health.
The Dental Chew-Ball for Dogs from Nutri-Vet combines the fun of a chew toy with a dog’s love for treats to help clean gums and teeth. The ball is made from a flexible, durable rubber and is speckled with nubs that massage gums and remove debris from teeth. There are depressions to be filled with Nutri-Vet Dental Paste, a liver flavor gel which contains antioxidant vitamins and essential oils such as parsley and peppermint oil that help to freshen breath and prevent the build-up of tartar.
Available online at Pet Supplies Now
One simple way to improve your dog’s oral health is to add a cap full of Slurp ‘N Fresh Oral Hygiene Solution to his drinking water. It’s a colorless solution formulated with natural plant extracts including mint oil and contains no artificial colors, dyes or alcohol. It helps eliminate bad bacteria in the mouth and softens plaque and tartar.
Available online at Wag
As with humans, one of the best ways to prevent the build-up of plaque on a dog’s teeth is with regular tooth brushing. Do not use toothpaste for humans on dogs since human toothpaste foams and requires rinsing unlike dog toothpaste which is specially formulated for dogs and does not require rinsing. The Kissable Pet Toothbrush and Toothpaste Combo from the Cain & Able Collection includes both a toothbrush with three heads that makes it easier to clean all surfaces of your dog’s teeth and a tube of Kissable All Natural Pet Toothpaste made with an all-natural tartar control formula containing vanilla and tea tree oil. Daily brushing is ideal, but it may take time for your dog to become accustomed to the process and even a few times a week is helpful.
Available online at Baxter Boo and at Canine Styles locations:
59 Greenwich Ave @ 7th Avenue 212-352-8591
1195 Lexington Avenue (btwn. 81st-82nd St.) 212-472-9440
830 Lexington Avenue (btwn. 63rd- 64th St.) 212-838-2064
2231 Broadway (btwn. 79th- 80th St.) 212-799-9799
A tooth scaler can be used to scrape off tartar from your dog’s teeth. A Double-ended Scaler from Millers Forge is made from stainless steel and has two different angled ends to reach difficult areas. Even though my dog can be testy about having her teeth touched, when she’s tired and resting in her bed, I am able to slowly scrape the teeth with the most buildup and am gradually increasing the amount of time and number of teeth I work on at one go. Take care to hold the tool and your dog steady to avoid slipping and injuring the gum line.
Available online at Doctors Foster and Smith
I think of the award winning Humunga Tongue and Humunga Lips from Moody Pet, Inc. as humorous reminders of the importance of my dog’s oral health, and they’re great dog toys. Made of durable rubber, they’re balls with either a long tongue or giant pair of lips attached. Use them to play fetch and as chew toys, and for funny photos. The tongue is fun for tug of war, and when your dog holds the ball with lips in his mouth, be sure to pucker up for a big smooch!
Available online at Moody Pet or at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store 365 State Street, Brooklyn 718-522-9848