Whilst we always repeat the mantra that "nothing beats regular toothbrushing" we appreciate that not everyone manages to be as rigorous as others with teeth cleaning regimes and also that there are some dogs that will not tolerate having their teeth brushed well no matter how carefully the routine is introduced, so we have also listed some of the other common "tooth cleaning" products below with details of their pros and cons to try to help cover some of the things most often asked in the shop. We would love to hear what you do/if anything to try to maintain good dental health for for your dog. Have you tried a specific product with good or not so good success?
Tooth cleaning fluids, wipes, sprays and powders: There are a wide variety of products on the market which people often use if their dogs are not so keen on having their teeth brushed or alongside toothbrushing. Most of these types of products have not been through quite such rigorous testing so much of the "evidence" for the use of these products relates to anecdotal information. Some people believe they can be good at helping keep plaque at bay but that they do little to remove a build up of plaque that it already there (some of those most commonly asked for in our store are Plaque Off, Oral Rinses and Tooth Wipes). These products are typically added to your dogs food or water rather than directly to the teeth.
Dental chews such as Pedigree Dentaflex and Dentastix: There have been some studies done which have shown their effectiveness (although it is worth noting that some of these will have been done by the companies producing the products so they have a vested interest in ensuring positive results). They can be expensive as they have to be given very regularly and the ingredients are not always super healthy and will not, of course, compare to regular toothbrushing.
Hard Edible Chews such as Deer Antlers, Roots, Buffalo Horns and hard Marrow Bones etc: Whilst these have the advantage of not carrying a big risk of splintering they are exceptionally hard and there has been a surge in reports of tooth fractures from products like deer antlers and so we do not highly recommend these products for this reason. Their teeth cleaning properties also depend on how your dog actually chews on these. For example they may focus on using one side of the mouth when chewing which may effect how effective their are for cleaning. Please see our "to Chews or Not to chews" article for further information on this topic
Less hard edible chews such as rawhide, pizzles etc: These present a much lesser risk of fracturing a tooth but you do have to be mindful of the choke hazard that these types of chews can present if your dog is greedy and chews off large pieces to swallow. These may help a bit with tooth cleaning but again they need to be used regularly and will not cover all the teeth like toothbrushing will.
Smaller raw bones such as chicken wing tips and carcasses: These present much less of a chance of tooth fracturing than the very hard, large bones and deer antlers and with regular use they, anecdotally, help to keep the teeth plaque free. It is important that they are raw and ideally they should be smaller, non weight bearing bone. There is still a choking hazard with bones of this type and care and supervision is required when feeding. More care is also required with regards to cleaning up after eating due to the higher risk of bacteria spreading from raw products.
For more in depth information of the pros and cons of different tooth cleaning products we would recommend reading the attached article from top Dental Vet Norman Johnston.
We also like to remind people that, regardless of how well you maintain your dogs teeth we would always recommend regular dental checks when visiting your Vet .