During the month of February, we are discussing important information regarding your pet’s dental health. In the previous article on keeping your pet’s mouth healthy, I alluded to “dental products your dog shouldn’t chew”…
I know you want to purchase the right things to help your pet have a healthy mouth, and to help them with their instinctive need to chew things! There is a lot of marketing hype out there. It seems like every diet, treat, and toy package is screaming benefits for your dog’s teeth. But many are actually unsafe!
I know it’s hard to believe that something that is supposed to be helpful could actually be harmful – leading to fractured teeth, intestinal blockage (gastrointestinal obstruction), and/or tummy upset (gastroenteritis) – but these are things that veterinarians see regularly in practice.
I’m here to give you the low-down!
First, a few guidelines:
- For aggressive chewers, don’t give your pet any chew toy that’s hard enough that you wouldn’t want it to hit you in the knee.
- Always supervise your pet while they are chewing, since they may swallow large pieces (this could lead to problems!).
- Avoid products with abrasive surfaces, such as tennis balls. These have a sandpaper effect on the teeth, wearing them down to the sensitive parts.
- Give a dental chew or treat every day for the best results.
And now, I am going to tell you which commonly purchased products are not recommended by your veterinarian!
Bones (cooked, uncooked, butcher shop bones)
These are hard as a rock and slinter-prone. Not a good idea for the teeth OR intestines.
Lots of tooth fractures with these. Beware!
Commonly cause tooth fractures, gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis!
Generally speaking, most dogs do okay with rawhides. However, please exercise caution! Your dog has to actually chew them for them to be effective, not swallow them whole (which commonly causes intestinal obstruction).
If you must give your pooch a rawhide, supervise them while they are chewing and take it away once it gets small enough to swallow whole.
Also, these treats have a ton of calories. Not the best idea if your pet is overweight!
I have seen many dogs develop gastroenteritis and/or pancreatitis after eating these. They are also very high in calories and fat. And they can be swallowed whole.
Overall, not a good idea.
So what can I give my dog to chew?
Here are the treats and chews I most commonly recommend for both dogs and cats:
- C.E.T. Chews (rawhide-like)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d – You can feed this as your pet’s regular diet, or buy the small bag and use the kibble as treats!
You do have an advocate (other than me, of course)! The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is a trusted resource for choosing an appropriate dental health product for your pet, and has approved several products for dogs and cats. Look for their seal of approval on the packaging when choosing a treat or toy for your pet.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion for you!
If you have questions about specific products, or dental health, let me know in the comments below. I will answer every question!