As pet owners in parent mode, we create mental checklists of the things we need to do to raise happy furry babies with the best chance at a long and healthy life. And somewhere in the midst of healthy meal plans, bathtime routines and daily exercise, dog teeth cleaning all too often finds itself on the bottom end of the to-do list. If this resonates with you, you’re not alone and you’re certainly not a bad parent. The importance of dental hygiene for pups is not a matter-of-fact issue known to most loving pet owners. Nor is the prevalence of dental disease, or periodontal disease, affecting 80% of dogs by the age of 3. So with this in mind, and in the spirit of empowering pet owners to make informed decisions, we’re going to explore how to clean dogs teeth starting with diet, dental sticks and, you guessed it, tooth brushing. But first, let’s unpack what dental disease means for your pup.

Dental Health for Dogs

Like humans, dogs require dental hygiene practices to protect them against preventable dental diseases, most of which are caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth or gums. This happens when food particles, saliva and bacteria stick to the tooth’s surface, later calcifying into tartar. If left untreated, your pup’s gum health can deteriorate, resulting in chronic pain and gingivitis - the only reversible stage of dental disease. If you spot any of the symptoms listed below, your best course of action is to take your little one into the vet, pronto. If your dog has special dietary requirements or preexisting conditions, always consult a professional.

Psssssst! Here’s a link to another article we’ve written exploring ‘The Importance of Dental Health’.

Signs of Dental Disease to Look out for:

  • Smelly breath
  • Discoloured or loose teeth
  • Receding, blood-stained or inflamed gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Food-dropping when eating or reluctance to chew or eat at all
  • Behavioural changes (e.g. lethargy, increased aggression)
(Image featuring fredthekelpie)

Bell & Bone’s 3 Golden Rules for Dog Dental Care

Golden Rule #1: A raw and grain-free diet, your pup should try it!

It should come as no surprise that your dog’s digestive system, including its teeth and gums, isn’t designed to process foods laden with starch, grains, fillers, chemicals, sugar or other nasties. Unfortunately, kibble, found amongst other dog teeth cleaning products, contains many of the above-mentioned no-nos that, when mixed with saliva, stick to the teeth and gums. Your little omnivore is built to survive on whole animals (bones and organs included) and the foods within their stomachs like vegetables, fruits and plants. For this reason, a raw diet complete with raw meaty bones and fresh food is the first measure you can take to prevent and even treat dental disease. Not to mention, raw foods also contain naturally occurring enzymes that protect your furry baby’s teeth and gums.

At Bell & Bone, we use grain and filler-free, Australian-made ingredients with no nasties to make sure that your pup gets all the right nutrients in each mouthful. You’ll find outcome-based healthy dog treats, instead of flavoured ones, for the simple reason that you want to know how they’ll affect your pup's health. With over 100 small treats in each bag, you can find options for healthy coats, balanced bellies, an outer glow or increased energy levels depending on your pup’s needs. For Bell & Bone treat serving recommendations, head to the end of this article.

(Image featuring toffee_the_cavoodle)
Golden Rule #2: A raw bone a day, or every second day, keeps the vet away
Raw, meaty bones are a safe, natural and effective way to protect your dog’s oral health. First and foremost, bones are comprised of vital nutrients like calcium and phosphorous that are essential for strong teeth and bones, muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve impulse transmission, to name a few. But the more impressive virtue of bones is their composition. When chewed, your little fluffy friend is chomping, tearing, ripping and crunching through raw bone, meat and tendons that scrape its teeth and gums, much in the same way a toothbrush would. So with every bone that you reward your unsuspecting pup, you’re really helping them rid themselves of built-up plaque and tartar for healthy pearly whites. Thanks mum or dad!

Psssssst! Beware of cooked or dehydrated bones
Once cooked, bones become brittle and can easily splinter into jagged pieces that are a hazard to your furry baby. These are not only a choking hazard but can also cause serious internal damage if swallowed. Dehydrated bones are also problematic as they splinter more easily than raw bones and lose many of their raw nutrients in the dehydration process.

Golden Rule #3: Daily dog dental sticks do just the trick.
At Bell & Bone, we swear by healthy dog dental sticks. Not only are they packed with nutritious superfoods and healthy ingredients like Chicken, Mint & Seaweed, Salmon, Mint & Charcoal, and Kangaroo, Mint & Turmeric, but they’re also developed under the supervision of experts in veterinary science. Full of active ingredients, like STPP and Zinc Sulphate, these treats assist in preventing and reducing up to 80% of built-up plaque and tartar, when given daily. To get a better understanding of how to clean your dog's teeth naturally, we’ve gone into detail about our dental sticks here.

(Image featuring rubenourcavoodle)

How to Clean your Dog’s Teeth
Ultimately, brushing your dog’s teeth is one of the best things you can do for their dental health - and if you already do this daily, you are the pet owner of the year. For the majority of pet parents, however, life tends to get in the way of these plans. If you find yourself in a similar position, we recommend setting realistic goals for yourself. Can you commit to brushing your pup’s teeth once a week? That’s better than most pet owners. How about once a month? Start short-term and see how go!

Psssssst! If your pup is squirmish, it’ll probably fight you tooth and nail before allowing you to brush its teeth properly. If you have difficulty doing this, we recommend going into your local pet store and asking staff tips on how to brush dogs teeth. They’re a world of knowledge and, like us, take dental health really seriously.

How many Bell Bone treats should I give my dog per day?

The number of treats your dog should have each day will depend on its breed, size, age and activity level. Something to note is that Bell and Bone is a treat, it should be fed as a snack not to replace meals. The following guide is intended for dogs with regular exercise and a healthy weight.

    Small Dogs

  • Superfood dog treats: 3-4 dog treats per day
  • Freeze Dried raw dog treats: 2-3 treats per day
  • Dental Sticks: 1 stick daily for dogs under 10kg

    Medium Dogs

  • Superfood dog treats: 5-6 dog treats per day
  • Freeze Dried raw dog treats: up to 3 treats per day
  • Dental Sticks: 1 stick daily for dogs 10-25kg

    Large Dogs

  • Superfood dog treats: 7-9 dog treats per day
  • Freeze Dried raw dog treats: up to 4 treats per day
  • Dental Sticks: 1 stick daily for dogs 25kg+

Being a dedicated dog owner often involves asking the right questions, seeking the right advice and, most importantly, checking in with your pup to make sure that it's healthy and happy. When in doubt, or in the event of health concerns, always consult a professional. Head to our FAQs page for more answers to dog treat-related questions. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch with me and I'll make it a priority to keep you informed and empowered.

January 28, 2021 — Yuval Ashkenazi