Let me guess, you're reading this article because you have experienced that gut-wrenching stench we call "puppy breath". We all know the smell of bad dog breath, so we have compiled a list of some of our favourite dental treats. We have broken this article into three parts for you to be able to solve this puppy breath once and for all:
Your dog's mouth is extremely important in how they explore the world. They show many carnivore traits, using their strong powerful teeth to shred meat, crush bones and obliterate their toys, but could your dog's dental health be in jeopardy?
We all know how important oral health is for ourselves. None of us enjoy a visit to the dentist for an expensive, uncomfortable and sometimes painful procedure, and I think we can safely say that our dogs would agree with that sentiment, right? So how can we be proactive?
There are numerous products that would be an excellent part of a regular dental routine, the easiest being dental treats. Dental treats work best when used together with other dental routines, like tooth brushing, but on their own can contribute to better breath and reduced bacteria build up in your dog's mouth.
Before we start talking about tasty dog dental treats, let's talk a little about dog oral health first.
Chewing: The Original Dental Routine
Your dog's ancestor, the wolf, didn't brush his teeth. Instead, he ate a species appropriate diet including raw meaty bones. Regular chewing and an appropriate diet is the most natural dental routine of them all. By chewing raw bones or natural chews, your dogs can help brush and floss all on their own.
Many of there favourite chew toys can play a part in your dog's dental health too. The abrasion from chewing will remove food particles and bacteria that build up in between teeth and along the gum line, as well as massage the gums to reduce inflammation.
Kibble and Canned Diets
You'd be surprised at how little dogs chew their food. Kibble can only act as an abrasive cleaner if your dog is appropriately chewing it, which is unlikely.
The quality of your kibble can also play a role. Heavily processed, high-carb kibbles can provide sugar for the unhealthy oral bacteria to feed on. Even when chewed, kibble can leave remnants in hard to reach areas of the mouth, where your dog's tongue can not reach or clean.
Beneficial in its own way, canned food is not ideal for dental health. Canned food is not chewed. It barely even touches the teeth and provides no stimulus to the gums.
Canned diets are great for providing more moisture and may be the best or only option for pets with certain medical conditions, but should be paired with a regular dental routine to promote optimal oral health.
Raw Meaty Bones
It's a simple concept, and an effective one. Feeding raw meaty bones encourage chewing and gum stimulation to prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease. This provides a long lasting chewing experience and increases the abrasion on the teeth to clean bacteria and food residue.
Chicken or turkey necks are a great starter choice and can be fed to cats as well.
Chews such as bully sticks can also be a great way to encourage chewing. They are harder, so this might not be the ideal option for young puppies and senior dogs, but they are less messy than raw bones. Tendons and Bully sticks soften as they are chewed, providing a flossing effect.
Smoked bones and antlers should be given with caution, as they are tough and shouldn't be fed to puppies, seniors or dogs with prominent dental issues, to avoid damaging their teeth.
Take a look at our 10 Best Natural Dog Chews & Bones and see which one might benefit your dog's dental health.
Helpful Dental Practices
A complete dental routine should include a combination of dental practices. Find the ones that works best for your dog's needs and your routine. Making your dog's dental routine more simple and quick will help provide consistency and make it seem like less of a chore for both you and your dog.
It's easier said than done, but brushing your dog's teeth will help limit plaque and tartar build-up and reduce odour causing bacteria. In fact, brushing your dog's teeth is the most effective dental care routine. When combined with regular chewing, your dog will have a pearly white smile and fresh breath.
Make sure you are choosing appropriately sized equipment to limit the discomfort of this practice. Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and textures, but sometimes a finger toothbrush is an easier option to help get those hard to reach places.
Never use human toothpaste products on your dog. Some chemical ingredients can be toxic, and the foaming agents used in our toothpaste can be a choking hazard.
Coconut oil can be used in place of toothpaste for an inexpensive and effective bacteria killer. The pleasant smell may encourage your dog to let you start poking around in his mouth.
Water and Food Additives
For a bit of a hands-off approach, you could try a water or food additive to help with your dog's oral health. Be careful when choosing the right one for you, as some are more effective than others.
Some water additives can help with the gradual breakdown of plaque and tartar, but most will merely act as a mouthwash for your dog, killing the bacteria and freshening the breath.
Food additives are better for long-term dental health, by softening the plaque and tartar and combating oral bacteria. Food additives can take a little longer to show an effect, but when used as part of a regular dental routine, they can be highly effective.
Additives may not always be the right choice for your pet. Powdered food additives need to circulate and coat the mouth, so they aren't ideal for dogs that gulp their food quickly.
Water additives are a little more foolproof, but changing the flavour of the water can discourage your dog from drinking as much water as they should. Try looking for a flavourless additive to encourage healthy hydration.
For more tips on healthy dental practices, check out Complete Pet Dental Care Guide.
Dog Treats: The Front Line Against Bad Breath
When we have a particularly onion-y sandwich for lunch, we use gum or mints to freshen our breath quickly and avoid offending our co-workers or friends. They are not a permanent solution, but will quickly reduce bad breath and limit bacteria growth.
While we can’t give gum to our dogs (never give gum to your dog), dental treats can be a quick and effective option for avoiding some seriously nasty dog breath. Many dental treats can aid in removing bacteria and providing abrasion as they chew.
There are many different formats of dental treats, some with more benefits than others, that could be a great addition to your existing dental routine. Check out some of our favourite dental treats.
Biscuits are a quick tasty reward to help freshen breath. While the long-term effects can be limited, they are a simple format to add some minty freshness to your dog's breath.
We want the cookie to fulfill its purpose by freshening breath, but it should also be healthy. Avoid junk ingredients with these healthy dental biscuits:
Aptly named "Breath Beaters", this extra minty biscuit will surely freshen your dog’s breath. They are grain free and use a small amount of cane molasses to sweeten them, making them very palatable while retaining their minty aroma.
Old Mother Hubbard
This brand offers two types of dental cookies, the Tartar Control Biscuit and the Fresh Breath Biscuit. The fresh breath biscuits use natural bad breath fighters like spearmint, parsley and fennel. Baking soda is used in the crunchy tartar control biscuits to provide a grainier abrasive texture during chewing.
Cleverly named, Everyday is Toothday, Pets Agree dental biscuits use activated charcoal to enhance the texture of this cookie. Parsley and peppermint are also used to reduce bacteria that cause bad breath.
The Granville Island Pet Treatery
Gasp! My Breath is Stinky cookies are our top pick for healthy dental biscuits! They contain fennel, parsley, peppermint and spirulina. Spirulina is a natural deodorizer as well as it’s many other health benefits. Plus, the only inactive ingredients in this formula are chickpea and eggs, making this product grain free, low glycemic and easy on the tummy.
Dental chews are meant to be durable enough to encourage chewing, but soft enough that the dog can bite into it. Most Dental chews have a similar texture, but there are a number of varieties available.
Finding dental chews for dogs with allergies or sensitivities used to be a challenge, but no longer. These healthy dental chews are available in grain-free, meat-free, low glycemic, or alternative proteins.
Likely the most well-known dental treat for dogs, Greenies has been a trusted dental care brand for a long time. Greenies have a unique texture allowing your dog's tooth to sink all the way into the chew, removing bacteria all the way down to the gumline.
Offered in regular and grain free choices to suit any size dog, Greenies are safe for puppies, seniors, and even dogs with fewer teeth than normal.
Merrick Fresh Kisses
Fresh kisses has a unique soft texture to allow your dog to bite into this treat letting the chew clean hard to reach places near the gum line. It's available in both a fresh mint formula or coconut with botanical oils, like mint and lemon grass. This line is completely grain and potato free, making it a digestion friendly option.
This line of dental chews has a unique hard texture unlike most dental chews, allowing for a long lasting chew session. All the Whimzees products are naturally flavored and colored, using ingredients like alfalfa and paprika.
The numerous shapes and sizes make it easy to find the best option for your dog's needs. The unique shapes are meant to help massage the gums and reach different areas of your dog's mouth, so we recommend feeding all appropriate shapes and sizes to maximize the effect.
ProDen Plaque Off
The Plaque Off System(TM) is made with Plaque Off powder, a type of seaweed that according to ProDen "is thought to affect the ability of plaque to stick to surfaces in the mouth and softens hard tartar deposits." Alfalfa also provides chlorophyll to reduce bad breath. This dental bone is available in four yummy flavours and is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Crumps' Naturals Plaque Busters
I had to separate this one from the pack because it doesn't freshen breath as quickly or in the same way as the rest of our best dental treats. You will not find aromatic ingredients like mint or natural deodorizers like spirulina in this formula.
It does, however, reduce bacteria and prevents plaque and tartar build up, which will help to eliminate bad breath over time. This unique formula is only 6 ingredients, including coconut oil, which I mentioned earlier will kill harmful bacteria.
Finley crushed oyster shells give the chew a coarse, almost sand paper texture, to scrape residue and bacteria from teeth and gum lines.
Start Treating Bad Breath Now
With a proper dental routine, improving your dog’s oral health is pretty simple. A combination of the right products, diet and some consistency on your part, will keep your dog’s chompers pearly white.
Dental treats are a simple and practical method for curbing bad breath and encouraging chewing. Whether you are trying to get rid of your dog's bad breath or just acting preventatively, dental treats are a great way to compliment any dental routine.
Dental treats should always be given in moderation due to the larger size and higher caloric content. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes so that you can find the appropriate option for your dog’s dental needs.
Treats should never be small enough to swallow whole, so offer your dog a large enough option to encourage proper chewing. Monitor your dog when trying new treats and provide an ample water supply.
Puppies should always be monitored when eating dental treats as they are the most likely to try to skip chewing and gulp the treat out of excitement, leaving them at higher risk of choking and digestive upsets.
Do you have any favourite treats or products to help keep your dog's breath fresh? Please share with us in the comments.
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.