What? You don’t think about your dog’s oral care EVERY month? Dental health care should be a daily ritual of some sort. I know, I know, it can be yet another task to take care of in an already busy day, and maybe you have multiple dogs (like me) where it’s a task x 6. However, dental care is super important on so many levels. If your dog suffers from bad breath, did you know that the odor might pose a serious health risk, one that includes damaging your dog’s organs as well as gums and teeth?

On my 3 Schips and A Girl Facebook page (posting date 2/3/17) I’ve posted a photograph of my favorite dental products. Dry-roasted beef kneecaps have proven to be the best way to keep plaque off my dogs’ teeth. And my dogs clearly enjoy chewing these bones far more than having their teeth brushed. I still brush periodically, though. For small dogs, use small (child-sized) toothbrushes so you can more easily brush teeth, especially in the back of the mouth. Be gentle. The Petz Life Oral Gel came recommended to me by holistic vet Dr. Donna Kelleher here in Bellingham. It comes in two flavors, salmon and peppermint. Keep in mind that some dogs don’t like peppermint.  A benefit from brushing your dog’s teeth is knowing what’s going on in your dog’s mouth beyond plaque buildup: I discovered that one of my Schips had a slab fracture from chewing on an antler (which I subsequently learned are too hard and break teeth all the time). Had I not been brushing, I’m sure my Schip would have suffered more pain and infection because I wouldn’t have been aware of the problem.

Adding a smidge of kelp product to your dog’s food can help keep plaque at bay. Before my vet (Northshore Veterinary Hospital) started carrying a kelp product (which is featured in the photograph on my FB page mentioned above), I used Plaque-Off by ProDen (made in Sweden).

Nylabones and Benebones can offer some plaque-removal benefits, and I offer these to my daycare dogs. I don’t use the kneecaps in daycare since they are too high value and could trigger resource-guarding, but I have a slew of these artificial chews and many dogs find them fun to gnaw on.

There are other options in the marketplace to help with your dog’s oral health but these are my favorite. I make sure each of my dogs visits my vet once or twice a year to have their teeth checked; I can’t always spot an issue that indicates a tooth should really be pulled, especially with older dogs. One of my Schips really hates brushing, and she is older with few teeth, so I find that using a piece of gauze to wipe teeth free of food and gunk is easiest (thanks to my vet Colleen Coyne at Northshore Vet for this advice).

You can find the above products at your favorite pet food supply store or through Amazon or your vet. Happy teeth cleaning!