Note: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep them healthy and clean. I am not saying you should do this instead. However, if you do not brush your dog’s teeth, this is one way you an start doing something to keep them healthy. If you do already brush your dog’s teeth, this might be a nice addition.
I am not a Veterinarian. I don’t even play one on TV. What I am is a Dog Mom who cares about her dog’s health…but not enough to brush their teeth. I mean, I care about preventing gum disease but as I declared earlier, I don’t plan on every brushing their teeth. I just don’t have the time or patience.
Since I don’t want to be totally irresponsible, I have been exploring alternatives. Earlier this year we tried anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. Chester and Gretel’s teeth weren’t terrible in the first place but I was happy with the results. Anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is good for knocking the tartar down and, although it won’t detect gum disease like a deep cleaning and X-rays can, the veterinarian can alert you if they see any warning signs. I am still in search of something I can do on a daily basis to help clean their teeth without brushing. After some research I developed a method that I are trying and it seems to help. The first step in the routine is to sprinkle Plaque Off on their food daily. This softens the plaque on their teeth so that it scrapes off easier when they chew on things. I am not sure how it does it because the label says it’s just kelp flakes but they work. It gets the plaque soft enough that sometimes I can scrape a bit off with my fingernail when we are snuggling on the couch. They really need to be chewing some something abrasive every day though. At 10 lbs we worry about calories. They are also insane chewers so if I give them a bully stick or something they mow through it right away. That means they don’t get the benefit of prolonged chewing action. Currently, I am giving them Antlers to chew on. They aren’t super interested in them so I have to trick them. When I remember and have time, I soak them in chicken broth over night. That softens them up a little and makes them taste a little like chicken I think. They seem more interested anyway. The other thing I do, regardless if I soaked the antlers or not, is to dip the end it coconut oil. I will admit that it can be a tad messy but since our carpet isn’t the cleanest anyway I don’t stress out too much about it. The coconut oil tastes good to them but it also helps their gums and teeth. It has natural anti-bacterial properties and my hope is that when they chew on the antler it pushes some of it under the gumline. Even if it jut comes in contact with the gums that is good. I have heard of people mixing it with baking soda to make their own doggy toothpaste (I suppose it would work for humans too).
Now, keep in mind that this is just a system I am trying. It makes sense to me and I have seen some improvements with this method…or at least their teeth haven’t turned brown again since the anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. I plan to try this method for a while and see how it works out. I will let you know and also write about any tweaks I have to make to our routine.
Update: I know many dogs that are happy to chew on antlers as they come from the pet store or soaked in broth as I mentioned here. Chester and Gretel were still not fans of the antlers even after soaking. I went back to giving them bully sticks to chew on for 5 minutes every day until we find a more suitable, lower-calorie, alternative.