Don’t Believe The Marketing: “Dental” Products Dogs Shouldn’t Chew

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!

 

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Always supervise your pet while they are chewing, since they may swallow large pieces (this could lead to problems!).
  3. Avoid products with abrasive surfaces, such as tennis balls.  These have a sandpaper effect on the teeth, wearing them down to the sensitive parts.
  4. Give a dental chew or treat every day for the best results.

 

 

No Rawhides

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.

 Antlers

Lots of tooth fractures with these. Beware!

 Cow hooves

Commonly cause tooth fractures, gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis!

Rawhides

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!

Pig’s ears

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?

 

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Here are the treats and chews I most commonly recommend for both dogs and cats:

  1.  Greenies
  2.  C.E.T. Chews (rawhide-like)
  3.  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.

VOHC_Accepted_Seal

 

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!

 

How to Win With Pets, If You’re A Veterinarian (Part 1)

 

Veterinarians become veterinarians because we love pets.  And we want to snuggle and squish them all day long.  The rude awakening occurs when we start practicing, and realize that our patients want nothing to do with us!  We poke them, prod them, stick weird things in their face and ears… why would they want to be near us?

Well, have I got the blog post for you!  In this 2-part series, I am going to share my tried-and-true strategies for fear-free veterinary exams!

Here are the first 5 guaranteed* ways to get your patients to love you again.

 

 

Giraffe Treats

1.  Peanut butter and hot dogs (tuna or liver paste, if you’re a cat)

There’s nothing better, or more distracting, to a dog than peanut butter and hot dogs.  Really, high-value treats of any kind will usually work.  And when I say high-value, I mean HIGH-VALUE.  It’s got to be something that they aren’t normally getting at home.  Something that makes them sit up and say “WHOA, whatcha got there? Can I has it?  Can I?”

Forget the cardboard biscuits that have been sitting in that jar on the counter for the past 6 months.  Not.  Gonna.  Work.

2. Don’t look or smell like a Veterinarian.

Okay, I know you’re at work and you need clothes that clean easily and look professional.  But, consider that your patients know that white coat a mile away.  And the stethoscope.  And maybe even your shoes, if they’ve met you before.  Sometimes, trying a new “uniform” with existing patients will help them reset their behavior.

Scents are important too!  We know dogs and cats are highly sensitive to odors, so forget the perfume, scented lotion, and Lysol spray (or whatever you spray yourself with after getting squirted with anal glands…).  Try Feliway instead; and/or put some really stinky treats in your pockets.  Bacon works.

 

 

ClaireParker2014

3. Play

 

Here’s your new M.O. when you enter an exam room:

  • Say hello.
  • Get down low (sit on the floor, if it’s safe from bouncy Labradors).
  • Play with pet, offer high-value treats.
  • Occasionally examine a body part.
  • Offer more treats.
  • Play again.

Playing with your patients can really take their minds off the weirdness of being in the vet clinic.  You can even have your clients bring their pet’s favorite toys with them, or just have some fun toys stashed in the exam room.  This goes for both dogs and cats!

If play doesn’t work, try #4…

 

4. Find the petting “sweet spot”

 

Ask the clients where their pet LOVES to be scratched or stroked.  Don’t just absentmindedly pat them on the head and hope they like it.  Every pet has a spot that makes them go “aaaahhhhhhhh, yeeeaahhhhhh…”.  Find it, then use it.

 

DrDandBandit

5. Talk quietly

 

Not all pets like the high-pitched baby talk.  In fact, if they’re not a Labrador, they probably don’t.  And it certainly won’t calm them down.  This is especially true for cats.  Talk quietly and don’t make direct eye contact with kitty patients.  With dogs, you can be happy, but keep that tone and volume at a normal level!  Unless you want a super bouncy, excited, or nervous dog to examine…

 

Take these 5 tips with you to your next exam room, and try them out!  I can personally vouch for each one of these tips; Now my patients LOVE me, even after I’ve poked them with needles.  You, too, can have the love of your patients again!

 

Win Pet's Love

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!

 

*results are not really guaranteed… but I know you and your patients will be much better off if you try these tips.

 

Are you a pet owner who would love to give your pet a fear-free veterinary experience?  If you’re in the Broomfield area, Call Dr. D to set up an appointment!

Q&A: What’s the deal with jerky treats from China?

Since 2007, the FDA has been investigating cases of dogs who became ill after eating chicken jerky treats.

 

At the last report, the FDA had received over 4,800 reports of illness which could be attributed to consumption of these jerky treats.  But despite all the time and effort spent investigating, we still don’t know what is causing these pets’ illness.

Here is what we DO know:

Don't buy jerky treats made in China

Don’t buy jerky treats which are made in China.

 

This includes chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, and combinations of these ingredients.  While we don’t know what causes the illness, we do know that the majority of cases reported to the FDA have been associated with treats imported from China.  PetSmart and PetCo have even removed all treats from China from their shelves.

You can flip the bag over and look at the fine print to see if your treats came from China.  But be aware – manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin of every ingredient, so there could be an ingredient in your bag of treats that was purchased from China.

If you choose to feed your pets jerky treats from China, be on the look-out for the following symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased urination

If your pet is showing these signs, stop feeding the jerky treats and contact your veterinarian!  These types of treats have been associated with kidney failure and an illness called Fanconi syndrome, which is typically a rare genetic syndrome.  Although most dogs recover from their illness, there have been many who have died.

If you would like more information about this topic, visit the FDA’s jerky treat Q&A page.

 

And as always, Dr. D is here to help your pets!  If your pet needs to see a vet, you can go HERE to book an appointment!