Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How to Select Safe, Effective Teeth Cleaning Chews & Dental Chews for Your Dog

Having something safe to chew can fulfill multiple requirements for your dog…
  • Provides enjoyment;
  • Exercises teeth gums and jaw;
  • Helps remove plaque;
  • Satisfies a dog’s natural need to chew;
  • Provides an outlet to expend energy;
  • Helps prevent boredom;
  • And for puppies, helps sooth itchy gums during teething.
There are many different types of chews that you can select from. Your dog may pick their own naturally available items to chew. My dog’s love to pick their own sticks to gnaw on while we are on out trail walks together…tree twigs actually contain some very good natural oral care properties - volatile oils that stimulate blood circulation and tannins that tighten and clean gum tissue.

You can choose from a wide assortment of chews available at most pet supply stores and on-line. Just make sure that when you are selecting a product you understand the pros and cons of using each product and what to look for to identify good product from poor or down right dangerous product (ingredients that include toxins and carcinogens). The information below provides a guide to choosing quality product and the right product.

And one other thing to keep in mind,  you won't know the quality of the item, much like the meat used in dog kibble - unless the labeling states that the chew (whether bone, rawhide, dental chew, etc.) is from an animal that was;
  • Antibiotic free;
  • Steroid free, 
  • Raised on organic and GM free food, and;
  • Not from a 4D animal (dead, diseased, disabled or dying prior to slaughter).
I point the above out primarily to make you aware of how many things your dog may ingest in the course of a typical day that may contribute to a toxic load. The more you are aware of, the greater opportunity you have to prioritize and make informed choices.

Raw Bones

Chewing on raw bones will definitely help to keep your dog’s teeth clean. But you do need to be careful what type of raw bone you give to your dog.
  • Fresh, raw chicken neck bones, chicken wing bones and turkey neck bones are safe for dogs - dogs can chew and swallow these soft bones (do not give your dog bones from the other parts of a chicken as the bones are harder, prone to splintering and can cause damage to your dog as noted below);
  •  Hip and femur bones of large animals such as cattle and bison are great for your dog to chew on, but beware the cautions noted below.
Many dogs eat raw bones all their life and never have an issue. Dogs on raw food diets may eat raw bones on a daily basis. Having said that, bones can also pose health risks…
  • Raw bones can lead to GI upset for dogs with very sensitive stomachs due to the rich marrow found in large animal bones. If your dog has a sensitive stomach make sure you remove the marrow first;
  • GI upset can also occur due to Salmonella and E. coli, although the stronger acids in a dog's stomach are much better at fighting off such bad bacteria than a human can -  however some dogs contract salmonella poisoning and some do die as a result;
  • Chewing on bones too intensely can cause tooth fractures;
  • Bone splinters can rip a dog’s stomach and/or intestines causing serious and sometimes lethal damage if swallowed - if you see that your dog is chipping and fragmenting the bone take the bone away, always make sure you pick up and discard the fragment. 
  • Don't give your dog cooked bones as cooking increases the fragility of the bone increasing the risk of splinters and fractures;
  •  Always be around to supervise when your dog is chewing bones.

Smoked or Natural Bones

My dogs love to chew on these! You can purchase smoked or natural bones. You can also purchase antler bones at many pet supply stores - antler bones are long lasting and are unlikely to fragment or splinter. Just follow a few precautions...

  • Chewing on bones too intensely can cause tooth fractures;
  • Bone splinters can rip a dog’s stomach and/or intestines causing serious and sometimes lethal damage if swallowed - if you see that your dog is chipping and fragmenting the bone take the bone away, always make sure you pick up and discard the fragment. 
  •  Always be around to supervise when your dog is chewing bones.

Natural Chews

Pet supply stores sell a wide variety of rawhide, bully sticks, pig ears, chicken jerky etc. These are all excellent for exercising your dog’s teeth and gums while scraping off plaque.  Just make sure you select chews that do not have any artificial flavour or artificial food dye (colouring) as these additives are carcinogenic.

My dogs all get a rawhide treat at night. It is part of their daily routine and a nice way for them to wind-down for the evening.

It is very important that rawhide be given to dogs only when you are around to supervise. Some dogs are really good about taking their time to chew properly and others are not so cautious and will not chew the entire rawhide properly. They will attempt to swallow larger pieces. These pieces can become lodged in the dog’s throat and cut off their air supply. Most of my dogs are careful, but my Boxer ‘Robbie’ is a repeat offender. There have been occasions when I have had to put my hand down his throat to remove a good size piece of rawhide.

And one last note - be very careful to note where the product is coming from - products from China can be full of toxins, contaminants, Salmonella and E. coli. Many dogs have died as a result of eating products produced in China - read the labels so you know where the product was manufactured.

Dental Chew Toys

Some dental chew toys are really well designed - long lasting, have a perfect consistency to exercise teeth, jaw and gums and remove plaque and do not contain toxins - Kong dental chew toys are one such example. Don’t purchase dental chew toys from China as the plastic may be full of toxins and may also fall apart and become a choking hazard.

Dental Chews

Dental chews are available at most pet supply stores, grocery stores etc. and on-line. Once again it is very important to look at the ingredients as many commonly stocked dental chews are chock full of ingredients that are seriously bad for your dog’s health. Remember don’t fall for advertising and labels read the ingredient list and know what ingredients to avoid. A truly good dental chew product consists of ingredients that are nutritional, fully digestible, and derived from 100% natural nutritive sources. While all of the products in the photo below look nice many of them are not good for your dog!

The product you choose should not include any of the ingredients noted on the to avoid’ list, but should instead be comprised - at minimum, of the following:
  • Natural, safe abrasives for cleaning action;
  • Nutritional ingredients including minerals and vitamins that support oral health.

Holistic Support

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.
Related Articles

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard of giving dogs green coconut shell to chew? The quality of raw hide chews at we get here in India is pretty suspect and my puppy doesn't respond to chew toys at all. He prefers the chair leg so I've given him an old rolling pin to chew on at the moment but I think he needs variety now that hes teething. Someone recommended coconut? Your thoughts?



Note -

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Nutraceuticals and Alternative Medicines:

When choosing to use any of the items or protocols in the article above, it is your responsibility to ensure safe use of the item/protocol. Food, herbs, nutraceuticals and alternative medicines all have drug interactions, most have health issue contradictions, some have side effects. Use of substances and protocols are your responsibility. Prior to use of any substance or protocol make sure you do your research - check for all cautions, contradictions,interactions, side effects. If in doubt do not use the substance or protocol. If the substance, or protocol is contradicted for your animal do not use. If your animal has an underlying condition you are not aware of substances may conflict with that condition.

2.0 The Real Meaning of Holistic…

Food, herbs, nutraceuticals and alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’. It is important to keep in mind that the supplement industry is just as unethical as BigPharma, the Food and Pet Food Industry, and unfortunately many veterinarians.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (i.e. an herb) you are using a natural substance, this is not synonymous with holistic.

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that - overall health, and wellbeing.

Please do not expect a natural substance to miraculously remedy a health or behavioral situation. A natural substance may be used to treat symptoms. However, if the factors causing the underlying issue are not properly identified, analyzed and addressed you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach that identifies root cause, seeks to remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues, and builds a complete, and detailed approach to immediate treatment, remedy, and maintenance of long-term health = holistic.

I offer extensive consultation services - Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness and Holistic Behavioral, for people that are serious about looking after their dogs and cats holistically. If you want to engage my services you can contact me via email or phone.

If you are looking for additional free advice, please refer back to the articles on my site, do not contact me via email or phone - personalized service is for my clients / patients only.

Want to Leave a Comment?

Comments are reviewed prior to publishing. If your comment is deemed appropriate for this site your comment may be published.

Questions may be answered if, and when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats

Canada, U.S.A. North America
1-613-622-1139 (off)
1-613-293-3707 (cell)

Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, UK, UAE, Scandinavian Countries, South America, Central America and elsewhere around the world
00-1-613-622-1139 (off)
00-1-613-293-3707 (cell)