When it comes to keeping your dog’s teeth clean, there are a lot of options available. There are gels, pastes, treats, natural methods, you name it! I’ll go into the different options, as well as their pros and cons. This is especially important to consider if you own a smaller dog. They are more likely to have gum and tartar issues, and in general, they will lose more teeth.
Then, I’ll discuss my own personal teeth cleaning routine I do with my dogs.
You use toothpaste, why not have your dog use toothpaste too? One thing to be careful of here is to get your dog an actual dog toothpaste. Do not give your dog a toothpaste for humans! The reason is that human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is poisonous if swallowed. Be sure to get your dog’s back teeth too! This method can be the most difficult
There are also a variety of dental sprays and gels that you can apply to your dog that will make it a bit easier than just brushing their teeth. Be sure to get one that has chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic that makes cleaning a lot more effective.
Natural Methods (non-bone)
I realize that this is a pretty broad category, so allow me to explain a bit more. Natural methods include crunchy/crisp food such as carrots and hooves. I have even seen some people reference using raw meat. Speaking of which, some dog owners say that by giving their pet a completely “raw” diet, they have had no teeth issues. You can read more in our post here - (link to dog raw food post)
Natural Methods (bones)
Larger dogs, in particular, will benefit from chewing on certain types of bones.
I do not recommend giving bones to smaller dogs. There is too much risk that a bone fragment could get stuck in their throat, causing them to suffocate. Sadly, I have seen and heard of the effects of giving bones to smaller dogs.
I recommend using small, softer bones such as turkey necks, chicken backs, and rib bones are okay. Do not use hard bones, as they can end up damaging teeth more than helping them.
The controversial option is dental treats. It seems to be really biased - either people are really for them, or they’re completely against them. For one, my dogs absolutely love Greenies (and no, I’m not paid to mention brands). Part of the controversy seems to be that dental treats tend to work better for small dogs. Bigger dogs just gobble the dental treats up (with an emphasis on the treat part)! The other downside is that dental treats tend to be a bit on the expensive side. Personally, I think they work great, but I will probably stick with the less expensive options
What I Do
For my dog’s tooth care, I use non-bone methods and I’ll also use toothpaste. Maybe it’s the human side of me that thinks that if something like brushing my teeth works for me, it will work for pets too. And sometimes I like my dogs to have fresh-smell breath! Normally, I’ll also give them small pieces of carrot to chew along with their food. I’ve found that this helps to keep the bad breath down to a minimum.
My friends that have larger dogs, on the other hand, swear by bone chewing plus the occasional teeth brushing or gel.
To wrap everything up, there are a lot of options right there. it’s clear that for larger dogs, it seems that soft bones are the way to go. For small dogs, dental treats or easily chewable, crunchy food might be better. Everyone is different, and they have their own experiences. I hope that this helps, and feel free to leave a comment below with your own suggestions. : )