Okay, so as Josh mentioned, I'm a little crazy about Shio's dental hygiene. Maybe it was because my friend scared the bejesus out of me when she told me her 3 yo Chihuahua had half his teeth removed because they failed to care for his teeth or maybe because I'm just crazy. On a serious note, here is why I pay close attention to Shio's dental health:
"Because dogs have been domesticated by man, they no longer use their teeth to tear through a skin layer in order to feed. As a result, their canine teeth become disused and prone to plaque buildup and yellowing. Infections, kidney and heart disease can result when poor dental health gives bacteria an environment to enter your dog's body. Bacteria in the dog's mouth break down food particles and converts them to plaque and excess acid. The plaque can become mineralized to form a hard deposit on the tooth surface called calculus. The excess acid damages the gums resulting in gingivitis. Unchecked gingivitis results in periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss. " -dogchewsrawhide.com
Here's a quickie on what I do for Shio's teeth and the products we use:
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Dental Fresh for Dogs I throw a capful of this yumminess into Shio's water bowl every single time it gets refilled. The product protects teeth and gums, removes plaque and tartar, brightens teeth, and freshens breath. I've used it since Shio arrived at our home and he's always had nice breath. One week, we ran out of Dental Fresh and his breath started to stink like a dog's. Next week, we had Dental Fresh to add into his water again and all order was restored. Besides, who can resist the Scooby-Doo looking fella on the label?
Petdental Natural Toothpaste for Dogs (2.5 oz.) Brush brush brush! We brush Shio's teeth with Four Paws Petdental Natural Toothpaste at least twice a week with a special dual headed toothbrush. He loves to lick the toothpaste off of the toothbrush but does not enjoy the brushing. That is why we give him a "special" Greenie treat after the brushing.
Greenies Treats for Dogs Sigh. Greenies. Before anyone yells at me for giving my dog Greenies, Shio is very careful with what he eats and chews thoroughly before swallowing. I know that Greenies has a bad rep in the past but they have a "improved" formula. Yes, it is a risk and so is everything that you decide to give to your dog. He seems to love them and anything he loves, we buy. Yes, we are suckers like that. He only gets a Greenies treat after the teeth brushing and the treat is supposed to reduced tartar and plaque as well as provide a healthy supplement of vitamins and clean your dog's breath.
Rope Toys There are both social and dental benefits with having your dog play with rope toys. We play tug of war with Shio and that helps build our relationship with him. As far as dental benefits, the rope toy will act as floss on Shio's teeth when he's pulling at the strings. As the strings fray, I take the toy and cut the loose strings, so he can start all over again. It keeps him happy and busy, but freaks him out when he ingests the string and it comes out the other end. See this post for more details on that.
Natural Bones J and I will go to the neighborhood butcher shop and buy bones for Shio with the marrow still inside. Shio loves this treat and the chewing on the bones help toughen his gums and clean his teeth. We boil the bone for a few minutes before giving it to him to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs. After the bones cool off and we give it to Shio, he goes nuts. We actually needed to train him to "be nice" with sharing the bone because he became quite aggressive when anyone tried to take it away from him. I don't blame him though... they are quite yummy.
Rawhide I'm a little more cautious about giving Shio rawhide treats because they break apart and the jagged pieces could get stuck in Shio's system, but we do give this to him as a treat once in a blue moon for the same reasons why we give him natural bones.
So those are the basic ins and outs on what we do for Shio's dental health. Hopefully, he'll keep his pointy pearly whites for many years to come!