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Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best dog dental supplements

A vital yet often under looked part of keeping your dog happy and healthy is proper oral care. Dental hygiene is paramount: disease in the teeth and gums can not only cause problems with eating and drinking, but it can also lead to ailments with the heart, liver, and kidneys.

One way to help maintain your dog’s healthy teeth and gums is through dental supplements. They come in various forms that cater to the needs and desires of different dogs. As the name suggests, dog dental supplements are meant to be used in tandem with a regular cleaning routine. They are not meant to be administered in isolation.

Supplements target tartar, plaque, and bad breath. In this buying guide, we explore the various forms of dog dental supplements available and how to make the most of them.

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If you have a puppy or young dog at home, get in the habit of gently handling and playing with their lips, teeth, and gums. This will help them get accustomed to brushing throughout their life.

Key considerations

The importance of dog dental care

It’s worth examining why dental care for dogs is so important. The concerns include more than just foul breath. Ignoring your dog’s dental care can lead to loose, broken, or rotting teeth. It can also cause bleeding gums, excessive drooling, and difficulty eating or drinking.

Dental disease can be painful, and the bacteria that lives in your dog’s mouth can travel elsewhere. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, the dog could quickly become seriously and evenly fatally ill.

In addition to heartache, this can lead to costly emergency vet visits, surgeries, and intensive restorative plans. For older dogs, some of these procedures can be particularly problematic, as surgery requires anesthesia, and the dog may already be suffering age-related issues.

Plaque vs. tartar

It’s important to understand the difference between plaque and tartar when exploring dog dental care. Plaque comes first. It’s a yellow film that sits on the teeth and can be removed by brushing and supplements.

If plaque stays around long enough, it can become tartar, which is darker in color and harder to remove. Tartar can form above or below the gumline.

Supplement form

Chews: This popular type of dental supplement helps keep teeth clean through the mechanics of chewing; simple scrubbing action in your dog’s mouth helps break up plaque. Chews are often favored by dogs. Bully sticks are particularly popular.

Look for chews that match your dog’s size. Smaller options may be swallowed too easily and create a choking hazard. Larger products may be too strong.

Note that if your dog has already sensitive or weak teeth, it’s best to avoid strong chews like rawhides and antlers. Aggressive chewers may not be well-suited to certain chews, as pieces or shards could break off and cause damage.

Toys: Like chews, dental toys work by stimulating in and around the teeth, removing a buildup of food and plaque. Options made of nylon or rubber are typically long-lasting and can help clean the teeth. Like chews, it’s important to find the right size for your dog’s mouth and teeth.

Treats: Some dog treats are designed to take time to eat so that they brush and scrub against the teeth before being fully consumed. These are useful in conjunction with chews or toys and act in a similar manner. While they can help with oral hygiene, keep in mind that they are indeed treats. As such, they should not be given out easily or frequently because increased calories could lead to weight gain.

Pills: Pills or tablets are fairly straightforward and commonplace, provided your dog does not mind taking them. These typically comprise a variety of enzymes and vitamins to temper plaque, limit tartar, and freshen breath.

Powder: Another method to administer dental supplements is through a powder. This is sprinkled onto meals, easily mixing into food and consumed along with it. Dog dental powder is ideal for dogs who dislike taking pills. The powder also may contain various useful enzymes and minerals.

Liquid: Supplements in liquid form are a good alternative to pills for some dogs. Liquid dental supplements are also useful for picky eaters who may not take to powders or treats. They are typically poured onto food. Some may be added to water as well, though it may be harder to judge your dog’s intake this way. Liquid options may be more potent and may come with a dropper for administering smaller doses.

Wipes: This option is meant for dogs with sensitive teeth or gums who do not take to brushing or chewing. Wipes can remove plaque and limit tartar; those infused with aromatic flavors can help improve breath as well.

Ingredients

Dental supplements boast a variety of ingredients to help improve oral health, but not all ingredients are created equal. If your dog has allergies or sensitivities, you may want to steer clear of options that contain corn, gluten, soy, or artificial preservatives.

Most dog dental supplements contain a range of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Some incorporate superfoods and popular ingredients like hemp seed, kelp, turmeric, and probiotics. All-natural ingredients may be a priority as well.

Amount and size

You may want to consider the amount and size of the supplements. Powders typically come in bottles containing between 1 and 2 grams. Liquid options range anywhere from a couple of ounces to 10 or 20 ounces, depending on concentration. Tablets or chews may have 30 to 60 pieces in a bag or bottle.

If you are administering supplements for the first time, you may want to err on the side of caution and invest in a smaller size in case your dog doesn’t take to it. Once you know that your pet enjoys, or at least tolerates, a particular supplement, investing in a large size may be a better value.

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Did You Know?
It’s estimated by the American Veterinary Dental College that a majority of dogs, even upwards of 80%, have some sort of dental disease by the age of three.
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Features

VOHC Seal

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), a group dedicated to finding and approving the most effective products at managing oral health, puts its seal on some dog dental supplements. For treats and chews, the seal is given to those that reduce plaque and tartar buildup by at least 10% in natural supplements or by 20% in those with chemical additives.

Flavor

Some supplements, particularly treats and powders, are flavored to enhance their appeal. Bacon flavoring is common.

Additional support

In addition to oral hygiene, some supplements contain ingredients to promote healthy skin and coat, aid in digestion, improve gut health or support the joints and muscles.

Accessories

Dog toothpaste: Virbac CET Enzymatic Toothpaste
Quality toothpaste is the cornerstone of dental hygiene. We recommend this option by Virbac that aims to reduce plaque and improve breath with its minty vanilla taste.

Dog dental chews: Greenies Original Dental Care
For those interested solely in chews, Greenies are endorsed by vets and dogs alike. They include vitamins and minerals and can be given as high-value treats every day.

Dental dog food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dental Dry Food
Some dogs require further help to achieve a healthy mouth. Royal Canin is one of the most trusted sources of high-quality, breed-focused dry dog food. This vet-prescribed formula aids and improves dental health.

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Did You Know?
If possible, serve your dog dry food instead of or in tandem with wet food. Kibble can help agitate buildup around the teeth, scrubbing the surfaces to keep your dog’s mouth healthy and clean.
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Dog dental supplement prices

Inexpensive: For $20 or less, you can find dog dental supplements in smaller sizes and quantities, including powders, chews, liquids, and toys.

Mid-range: Most dog dental supplements cost between $20 and $40, with a variety of options available in all forms.

Expensive: For over $40, you'll find larger quantities of supplements as well as comprehensive options that offer more complete care.

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Did You Know?
Just like humans, puppies lose their baby teeth to make way for their adult teeth. While most adult humans have 32 teeth, adult dogs have 42 in total.
Staff
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Tips

  • Consult your vet. Before purchasing supplements, we recommend discussing options with your vet. They will be able to give expert advice based on your dog’s breed, age, size, and lifestyle.
  • Monitor your dog’s response. Any time you introduce a new component to your dog’s diet, it’s important to watch for adverse reactions in the days and weeks following.
  • Hide the pill. Some dogs are averse to taking pills, but there are ways around it. Sneak a pill in their food or wrap a soft treat around it. You can also invest in specifically designed pill pocket treats.
  • Start now. Begin good oral hygiene practices with your dog when you adopt them or as soon as possible so your furry friend can live a happy and healthy life.
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While dog dental disease is a serious and common threat, cavities in dogs are highly rare. That's due to the lack of flat teeth in the dog's mouth and the general lack of sugar in their diet.

FAQ

Q. How do I brush my dog's teeth? And how often?

A. Supplements are not meant to be the only means of addressing your dog’s oral health. Daily brushing is best. Many dogs don’t take to brushing at first, but they can grow accustomed to it with practice and reward.

Invest in dog-specific toothpaste, and start by allowing them to sniff and lick it from your hand. Begin brushing with your finger gently on their teeth. As they get used to the experience, upgrade to a dog toothbrush.

We recommended sitting behind the dog for more control with a toothbrush. Run the brush horizontally several times and vertically once or twice after. Focus on finishing a specific area, like the back right side, before moving to another area. Reward throughout and after with physical and verbal praise along with tasty, high-value treats.

Q. Will supplements treat disease?

A. Supplements, along with brushing, are meant to prevent or maintain healthy teeth and gums; they do not serve as treatment. Have your dog’s teeth checked regularly by their vet. A cleaning may be required in some cases, which calls for anesthesia. This is a comprehensive, often costly but also highly effective procedure. However, maintaining your dog’s dental health can help avoid the perils and costs of cleaning or dental surgery down the road.

Q. How do I know if the dental supplement is working?

A. There may not be a lot of ways to identify the supplement’s effectiveness right away. If your dog suffers from bad breath, it should improve slightly unless it’s a severe case that requires professional cleaning. Regular brushing, along with supplements, should tend to plaque buildup, which is noted by a yellow film. Tartar will be tougher. Your vet will be the best judge of your dog’s oral health.
 

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