by Audrey Harvey, DVM
We’ve all seen pictures and cartoons featuring a tiny dog and a giant bone. Dogs and bones go together like a knife and a fork, or a shoe and a sock. Most dogs love to chew, and a bone can keep them occupied and out of mischief for quite some time.
Should You Give Your Dog a Bone?
Most of us have grown up believing that dogs need to eat bones to keep their teeth clean.
However, you may be surprised to learn that veterinary dentists now recommend that you don’t give your dog any bones at all. This is because bones can be very harmful to dogs, and can cause severe damage to a dog’s teeth. There have been many cases where chewing on a hard bone has resulted in a fractured tooth, and an expensive dental bill. Small bones can also get stuck between your dog’s teeth, which can be very distressing for your dog.
There are other potential health hazards associated with eating bones; choking, intestinal obstruction and constipation can all occur if you include bones in your dog’s diet.
As you can see, your dog’s teeth are better off without bones, as is his gastro-intestinal tract!
How Do You Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean?
Most dogs have some degree of periodontal disease before they are 3 years old. If your dog can’t have bones, how do you keep his teeth clean?
That’s easy – brush his teeth! Veterinary dentists advise that you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, just as you do your own. Brushing will remove any food scraps and plaque before it hardens into tartar.
It may take a while until he gets used to his new dental routine. If your dog is nervous and unsure when you approach his mouth, you will need to take the time to allow him to get used to it. Don’t rush this, because it can make your dog even more reluctant to let you look at his teeth.
To get the most results from your tooth brushing efforts, follow these guidelines.
Firstly, use the right toothbrush. The KissAble toothbrush has a unique design which allows you to clean all surfaces of your dog’s tooth at once. Firm bristles thoroughly clean his teeth while softer brushes massage his gums.
Secondly, choose appropriate toothpaste. Human toothpaste is not suitable for dogs at all. While we enjoy a fresh minty taste, many dogs don’t, and they also don’t like the soapy lather that a human toothpaste produces. The KissAble Toothpaste is a better choice; it contains tea tree oil which fights plaque, dogs love the vanilla flavor, and it is soap-free. Feel free to try it on your own teeth; you may prefer it to the toothpaste you are already using.
While your dog would love a big meaty bone for supper, it’s just not worth the risk. Give him a chew toy to keep him busy, and brush his teeth with KissAble toothbrush and toothpaste. He’ll have clean teeth, fresh breath and you won’t mind at all when he gives you a kiss on the cheek.
Audrey Harvey is a veterinarian who has worked in small animal practice for 20 years, and has been involved in teaching and competing in dog obedience and agility. She is passionate about preventative health care in dogs, particularly obesity management and the prevention of boredom related behavioral problems. Audrey lives in Brisbane Australia, and shares her couch with an Australian Cattle Dog, an Australian Working Kelpie and two Whippets