Did you know February is National Pet Dental Health Month? Did you also know that 80% of dogs show signs of oral disease by age 3, yet only 14% of dogs receive dental care from veterinarians, making periodontal disease the most common disease among dogs? Periodontal disease can cause chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss, and even lead to higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease. Having a dental health regimen is essential to keeping your pups happy and healthy, yet can be often overlooked.
Our team has had our fair share of ups and downs with finding the best methods for our individual pups, so we decided to share our stories and product recommendations that help lead to a healthier dental prognosis.
KRISTIN + NINJA
Say it with me, "c-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-c-y." If you take away one thing from my experience with Ninja it's consistency.
At his annual vet check-up at age 2 I was pretty much lectured about my obvious lack of dental focus. They recommended I consider a professional cleaning for preventative measures because of how inconsistent I was with brushing his teeth up to that point. Morkies are highly prone to periodontal disease; they are small, they have tiny teeth, and tartar and plaque can escalate quickly if not attended to — I knew this but it really didn't click until that point.
Well, I felt bad hearing the truth from our vet. (You always want to leave with a smile on their face that says good job Mom & Pup!) So after that experience I was determined to stick with brushing his teeth on a consistent basis. (Not to be confused with overly obsessing with brushing every day for duration of days, and then not for a long period of time, just to start the whole cycle again.) Trust me; it's easier to manage, well worth the 60 seconds, and overtime becomes a less painful experience for all involved if you just brush consistently. At Ninja's next annual check-up at age 3 (the marker for that 80% statistic) I knew I did a decent job of focusing more on his dental regimen — but would it show? I’m happy to say my vet was impressed and told that for the time being there was no alarming need for a professional cleaning.
Ninja will be turning 4 soon and will be going back in for his annual check-up. I will keep you posted on the vet's diagnosis, but for now, I am happy to share my story in hopes of it encouraging consistent dental care for your pooch. Their health and your happiness depend on it! I am not a perfect dog mom, but if there are ways to improve, I will always try, for Ninja.
So, what does Ninja's dental regimen consist of? Here is my list of recommendations, along with pros (& cons), and ultimately the combination of products that helped get Ninja's teeth and gums back to better shape.
1 C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste: There are several flavors, but we use Vanilla-Mint. Major bonus: Ninja smells like a cupcake after his brushing. I didn't initially use this brand — which I will get into with the following product — but am very happy I gave it a whirl. Ninja tolerates this toothpaste well and the kit came with a different type of brush than the one I had been using, which is a lot more manageable to use. Before, when I would pull out his toothpaste (or rather, gel) he would try to run away. With this toothpaste he is way more chill during and after the process. And again, CUPCAKE!
2 Tropiclean Fresh Breath Teeth Gel Kit: This was the first cleaning agent I tried on Ninja. Why would I still recommend it after stating my experience with the C.E.T. brand? This gel is great when you're on the go. You don't necessarily have to brush it on. The bottle is shaped so that you can gently squeeze a little of the gel over the teeth. Having said that, I use this method in the interim of brushings. I no longer rely on it or think of it as a "full brush session."
3 Greenies: Dogs loooove Greenies. At least the ones I know. A mistake I've made is assuming a greenie a day is all you need; here's a greenie and we're good. In some cases depending on breed, maybe, but I wouldn't bet my dog's dental health longevity on just that. Though it never hurts to see Ninja jump for joy when he sees his daily greenie. His dog walker calls it his YUM YUM. (Fun fact.)
4 Earth Animal’s Organic Dental Sweet Potato Slices: Ninja and I love these. They are vegetarian, hypo-allergenic, and a great source of fiber. It functions as a rawhide for him because it takes a while to gnaw on, keeping him occupied, but is a lot healthier and also has the dental benefits.
5 Nylabone Dental Chew Toy: Ninja is obsessed with fetch, so this bone will most likely be dropped in front of me a few (or many) times until he finally goes off in the corner to chew it. But hey, any time he sits with it, it's just that much more dental care he is receiving. So it's a keeper.
6 Organic Cotton Knot Bone Toy: The same goes with this toy, which was probably one of his first type of toy ever.
Emily + ghost
Our girl Ghost was missing two teeth when we adopted her, our vet thinks she most likely could have been born that way - but we will never know. She also came to us with slightly worn down canines [or fangs] to the point that they look squared off on the tips. Her canine squaring has worsened in the time we’ve had her … when we noticed that it was getting worse - I immediately freaked out, thinking that I was a terrible dog mom. WHAT WAS CAUSING THIS ? WHAT WAS I DOING WRONG? I was offered a few professional guesses - the biggest culprit was the all mighty TENNIS BALL. The tennis balls abrasiveness acts like sand paper or a nail file as your dog carries the ball around in her mouth. Hard plastic balls / extra hard antlers were also all removed from Ghost’s toy array. All balls were replaced with rubber chuckit balls and we moved to softer-side long term chewing activities.
Being that Ghost has extra sensitive or weak teeth I like to make sure I take extra care of them. She receives two scoops of ProDen PlaqueOff Animal mixed in with her breakfast daily. As well as 1, 1-TDC Dual Action Natural Support for PERIODONTAL & JOINT HEALTH, daily. Sometimes I will even break open a 1-TDC and rub it on her teeth and gums [depending on how many teeth brushings I got in that week] this greatly helps to remove tartar.
I aim to brush Ghost’s teeth daily but when I miss a day I use NYLABONE advanced oral care foaming tartar remover - simply insert nozzle and press down - no rinsing needed.
Ghost also loves her WHIMSIES and receives one daily. WHIMSIES are gluten free, with natural ingredients and vegetarian. I like to buy the alligators, but my husband buys the toothbrushes - because he likes to tell Ghost to “go brush your teeth.”
torye + Teka
At least once a week (the goal is daily, but I'm human!) I will sit down with Teka and brush her teeth. It took some experimenting to find a toothpaste that she would tolerate, but we currently use Sentry’s Petrodex Enzymatic (poultry flavor) with her Boshel toothbrush. She loves treat time when she will get a Get Naked Dental Chew or I will fill up her Kong Classic or Kong Goodie Bone with some peanut butter! She’s a rather mild chewer, so thankfully I don’t have to worry about her tearing apart her toys such as her Starmark Bento Ball, bacon flavored Benebone, or Fetch N Floss ring. Between our brushing and her love for toys, we typically only have to do a professional cleaning on her teeth once per year!
If you have any questions or comments or your own experiences and recommendations, please leave a comment. WE LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And if you haven't subscribed yet, please do so to receive news, updates, promos, and other fun WHOWAGWEAR-ness via email. Last, but not least, please welcome our newest Graphic Design intern, Torye! She rocks and we are so ecstatic to have her join the team.
For more information on dental care, check out the National Pet Dental Association.