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Okay, it’s confession time – you know how I’m always on about the importance of brushing your dog’s teeth? How I’m always saying that it’s best to brush daily, and if you can’t manage that, then you should at least do it two or three times a week?
The reality is that a lot of the time, I don’t even manage once a week.
I’m not making excuses here. The reality is that I’m beyond busy, and Janice and Leroy, despite my best efforts, are not all that fond of having their teeth brushed. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a struggle, but it’s never as easy as, say, brushing my own teeth!
Because of this, I tend to go through a lot of dog teeth cleaning chews. It’s an easy way of keeping my dogs’ teeth clean, and it also keeps them entertained. Not that I don’t spend time (a lot of time!) with Janice and Leroy – after all, they’re the best things in my life, I love them to distraction, and I treasure every minute that I spend with them. I have to work though, and I take in a lot of freelance jobs in addition to blogging. In the fine weather, I leave the door to the fenced-in yard open so that my guys can go out and play from time to time without needing to have me involved, but if it’s raining or snowing, I’m just as likely to let them lie next to my desk and entertain themselves with dog teeth cleaning chews.
Of course brushing is important – that’s why I still do it, even though I admit that I don’t do it as often as I should. Next to brushing, though, giving your buddy lots of dog teeth cleaning chews are the best way of making sure that his teeth stay healthy. You want to make sure to choose really good chews, though – dog teeth cleaning chews that will really scrub his teeth. There are all kinds of them out there. Some are good, and some are not so good.
Before we get into specifics, though, let’s talk about the importance of good oral health for your dog.
Why Should I Worry About My Dog’s Teeth?
For the same reason that you care about your own teeth! Because if your dog develops tooth decay or gum disease, he’s going to be in just as much misery as you would, but you’ll probably never know because it’s in a dog’s nature to hide pain.
This is because in the wild, canines will do everything they can to conceal pain, which translates as weakness, which can get you culled out of the pack. If your dog is experiencing dental pain, you probably won’t hear him whine or whimper. The only indication might be a reluctance to eat.
When we have dental pain, we complain. We moan and cry and carry on, and then we probably arrange a dental appointment. Your dog is never going to tell you, in any concrete way, “Mom, my teeth hurt.” So the best way to make sure that your dog doesn’t feel dental pain is to take care of his teeth in the first place. It’s just one component in your dog’s overall health care.
How Do Dog Teeth Cleaning Chews Help?
Dog teeth cleaning chews work in much the same way as a toothbrush, by removing bacteria, tartar and plaque. The only difference, really, between brushing and chewing is that with the former, you’re doing the work, and with the latter, the dog is. The research shows, too, that dogs that are provided with quality dog teeth cleaning chews have about 70% less plaque on their teeth than dogs that don’t have the benefit of dental chews.
Dog teeth cleaning chews work best when you combine them with dog foods that also facilitate chewing. This is why a large-kibble dog food is generally better than small-kibble food, and why it is always better than wet canned food. The mere action of eating creates a sort of scrubbing.
Different Types of Dog Teeth Cleaning Chews
As I stated above, there are many different dog teeth cleaning chews. Some aren’t all that good.
You may have heard, for instance, a few years ago, of dog chews that were imported from China and actually contained contaminants that resulted in illness and even death in a number of dogs. For this reason, I never recommend flavored chews that are manufactured outside the United States.
That said, you can buy dental chews made from all sorts of different materials. The best chews are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Keep in mind, though, that they don’t test every chew on the market, and manufacturers of dog teeth cleaning chews are not required to have them tested. So, this is just a rule of thumb – it doesn’t mean that an untested chew is necessarily bad for your dog. But if it does have the seal of approval, you can likely assume that it is good.
Many types of dog teeth cleaning chews contain glycerin, and this is because it makes the chew tougher and longer-lasting.
I’m very partial to plain old rawhide chews, though. They’re made from horse or cow hide, and they come in all sorts of different sizes and shapes. You may have seen the flat strips, or rawhide chews that are twisted around into the shape of bones. They’re very hard, and most dogs will be able to enjoy them for a long time. Because they take a while for your dog to chew up, they’re very good at cleaning your dog’s teeth.
The best thing about rawhide chews, though, is that they don’t usually have added flavorings, so they’re very safe. In fact, this is one instance where I’ll tell you that it’s okay to head to the dollar store to buy dog teeth cleaning chews. Just remember, as I said before, don’t buy any that have been flavored – you want the pure white chews.
The Best Dog Chews
Now, having sung the praises of rawhide chews, I’ll get into different brands of dog teeth cleaning chews that I think would be good for your dog.
1. Greenies Canine Dental Chews
Greenies Canine Dental Dog Chews are very chewy and long-lasting, and made with potatoes, chickpeas and other natural ingredients. They taste great, and are a really good way to improve your dog’s oral health.
Here’s another really great offering when it comes to dog teeth cleaning chews. Dogs love Natural Balance Dental Chews because they’re very flavorful, with duck meal, real meat, and potatoes. If you’re used to buying treats that smell good to you, though, you might have a predisposition against these chews – they don’t appeal to humans. The thing is, though, many treats for dogs are actually formulated to smell good to humans, and that really has nothing to do with how much your dog is going to like them. These treats will definitely appeal to your dog, and keep him chewing for quite a while.
3. Blue Buffalo Regular Blue Bones Natural Dog Dental Chews
Here’s another chew that will entertain your dog for a long time. In addition to keeping his teeth clean, it will improve his breath as well, which is a big plus if stinky dog breath is a problem in your household. They’re also very digestible, and contain no animal byproducts, wheat, corn or soy. If you have an aging dog with joint problems, you’ll also appreciate the fact that Blue Buffalo Regular Blue Bones contain glucosamine.
Back to rawhide again! Ranch Rewards Natural Rawhide Bone is one of the most effective, simplest ways of keeping your dog’s teeth clean. These dog teeth cleaning chews are inexpensive, and will last a long time. They come in different sizes, so you can get them for big dogs. For that matter, a “big dog” size will last a small dog for a very long time, so don’t feel limited.
Dog teeth cleaning chews don’t just work to keep your dog’s teeth clean – they also freshen your dog’s breath. Even basic rawhide will work to reduce bad breath, because most of the time mouth odor is due to dirty teeth. Some chews, though, also contain ingredients like mint and other natural ingredients that will make your dog’s breath smell positively wonderful!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really believe that dog kisses are just about the most wonderful thing in the world. Dog breath, sometimes not so much. I’m not sure if I really believe that dog saliva is cleaner than ours, although I’m pretty sure that I’ve never picked up any sort of illness from any of my dogs. So, cleaner or not, I guess it doesn’t much matter as long as your dog has been de-wormed and has had his shots.
I do know, though, that I prefer kisses from dogs that have pleasant breath, and dog teeth cleaning chews go a long way to making that possible. So get your dog some chews, and then get ready for kisses!