Sponsored by Camp Bow Wow

Rhody Pets: Here’s Why Good Oral Health for Dogs Matters

The gist: Like us, good oral health is linked to good whole-body health


Daily brushing is the number one thing you can do to offset bacterial build up in your dog’s mouth and improve their overall health. But there’s more you can do. Combine the following recommendations with a new brushing routine, and you’re on your way.



  • Dogs’ bodies are designed to eat the entirety of the prey they would have killed in nature, which includes fur, bones, and strong elastic tissue. This process would provide a natural brushing effect on their teeth.
  • The bacteria found in the mouth (and the toxins that result from it) destroy teeth and gums and can be directly related to heart health. Lack of proper preventative oral care can have major effects on the body as the bacteria and toxins are breathed into the lungs, swallowed into the stomach and intestines, and enter the bloodstream where it can affect distant organs every time the dog or cat eats.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) indicates that 80 percent of dogs have some degree of oral or periodontal disease by the young age of three years old.
  • As pets age, the constant overload of bacteria and toxins on the organs wreaks havoc on the body’s systems and prevents good health.

So, what if your dog hasn’t had their teeth brushed since puppyhood? Begin the routine now and your dog’s health will be positively impacted. Get a head start by talking with your vet to see if your dog needs a dental cleaning to remove existing plaque and tartar build up. Many dog owners find that once they’ve established a daily oral routine, the initial cleaning is all they need. This, of course, depends on the individual dog, but it’s sure encouraging. Here’s our step-by-step guide on getting started.


1. Let your dog chew

Chewing is a natural behavior that can help keep teeth clean. Aim for a minimum of three 30-minute chew sessions per week to really help prevent plaque and tartar formation. Make sure any long-term chew is sized appropriately for your dog. If you have a very aggressive chewer, be sure to switch up the types of chew you offer to avoid your dog from wearing his teeth down.

Look for hard, chewable natural items to exercise the teeth, gums, and jaw. Products like:

  • Bully sticks
  • Natural shed split elk antlers (elk antlers have a softer outer core and are less dense, which puts less stress on the teeth)
  • Yak-milk cheese chews
  • Raw beef marrow or knuckle bones (never feed cooked bones and stay away from bones that are not size-appropriate for your dog)
  • Dental chews with enzymes (These chews often will not provide the recommended 30-minute chew time but they do help break down plaque and are a good addition. Please note that relying on these chews for total preventative care is not recommended but should be part of the regimen outlined here)

2. Feed them a better diet

Poor diets can contribute to a lack of mineral salts in the saliva that contribute to tartar. Feeding a diet appropriate for the carnivorous canine species that includes fresh foods rich in nutrients is best. We also recommend adding supplements to their daily meals.


3. Examine their teeth for early detection

While you’re brushing your dog’s teeth, smell their breath, look at their individual teeth, examine their gums, and don’t forget to look at their face! Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any swelling, foul odors, inflamed/red gums (gums should be light pink in color), or feel any lumps or bumps along their external jaw line.

Rhody Pets is sponsored by:

Camp Bow Wow • 3 Keyes Way, West Warwick • 401-250-3595 


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