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Your Canine's Canines - Dog Dental Health

Written by: Miranda Jones



Time to read 6 min

Few people realize how important dental health is to overall health and wellness. In fact, a lingering dental issue or an otherwise unhealthy mouth can affect multiple systems in the body and undermine many other positive steps we might take to stay well. The same is true for dogs – perhaps even more so! Dogs use their mouths to eat (as in healthy dog treats!), relieve stress (like chewing on antler dog chews!), communicate, clean, play, and carry things – basically like we use hands or tools. Plus, a dog’s mouth is his first line of defense against germs and immunological aggressors. Read on for more about the importance of dog dental health, recommendations for how we stalwart pet parents can safeguard it, and how healthy dog treats and chews fit in.


White Samoyed Dog Smiling and Showing Teeth.
A Healthy Canine's Canines

There is more to a healthy canine mouth than pretty teeth and good breath. Sure, these are nice benefits, but the main reason to keep our pup’s mouths healthy is to reduce the chance of systemic disease, especially of the heart. In fact, this is the key concern around periodontal disease in dogs. According to the AKC, periodontal disease is the most prevalent inflammatory disease among dogs, affecting up to 90% of dogs over the age of two! It usually begins with inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, but if left unchecked, it can affect deeper layers of tissue and even jaw bones. At the least, it can cause dogs red or bleeding gums, excessive drooling or bad breath, but it can progress to tooth loss and pain when eating or chewing, which can in turn lead to weight loss and decreased quality of life. At the worst, the condition can decrease a dog’s immunity to normal bacteria in the mouth, allowing them to infiltrate the bloodstream and potentially cause cardiac infections.

While small breeds and senior dogs are most likely to develop periodontal disease and its complications, it is clearly very prevalent and should be something all us pet parents take steps to avoid. Seek veterinary care immediately if you notice loose or missing teeth or changes in your dog’s eating or chewing behaviors. Better yet, take steps upfront to lower or eliminate the risk of your pup developing oral health issues. As with most adverse health conditions, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! 


Just like humans, hygiene is critical to a dog’s dental health. How many times have we heard our own dental hygienists preach about brushing, flossing and eating right! While we don’t expect anyone to floss dog teeth, we do recommend periodically cleaning them in some of the following ways.

Rescue dog wearing a Farm to Pet Bandana while smiling and showing teeth.
Cheesing for Healthy Treats

Brushing with Canine Toothpaste

According to, it is advisable to brush two or three times a week. While there are doggie toothbrushes on the market, it’s just fine to use a human toothbrush for large dogs or a baby or fingertip brush for small breeds. However, steer clear of human variety toothpaste which can contain xylitol, a chemical harmful to dogs, and are not meant to be swallowed. Instead, opt for a toothpaste specifically formulated for canines – dogs, that is. Not only are they safe to ingest, but they even come in flavors that dogs enjoy, like chicken, beef, or peanut butter. In fact, some dogs even enjoy having their teeth brushed for this reason! If yours does, you can even do it daily, but be sure to watch for any allergies to toothpaste ingredients. Regardless, consistency is key, so make it part of your dog’s routine – you can even reward a dog for brushing with a pre-brushing treat to get them warmed up to the idea!

Dog Tooth Wipes

While they aren’t as effective as brushing and aren’t able to clean out crevices and spaces like brushes can, doggie dental wipes are still a great option if you have difficulty brushing your dog’s teeth or just want a more straightforward, less messy method. Wipes not only clean surface debris, but according to, they also break down the biofilm that adheres to dog teeth. Plus, they contain some of the same ingredients in dog toothpaste that help prevent bacteria and break down the calcium, which can lead to tartar that otherwise has to be professionally removed. However, remember that most wipes recommend twice daily cleaning, so the labor and time commitments are definitely higher with this option.

Professional Cleanings

While groomers offer brushing or sometimes scraping of teeth during visits which can help with maintenance, perhaps the best way to ensure your dog's oral health is a professional cleaning by a veterinarian. Of course, this is much more expensive than the other methods mentioned, but a veterinarian knows what is best for your dog's teeth. He can do a deep, thorough cleaning and at the same time address any problems he finds that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. However, sometimes this requires sedation for the pup, so care must be taken with senior dogs or those with other health issues. Many veterinarians offer payment plans through financing companies like If you’re interested in pet insurance to help cover costs, check out these options.


Again like humans, what dogs eat affects dog dental health. Most importantly, feeding our fur babies a healthy diet with balanced nutrition helps keep all of their body systems, functions and microbiomes working their best. When it comes to dental effects, the form of the food also factors in. Specifically, foods that crunch are especially important because they provide physical cleaning action by scraping against teeth and removing tartar and because they help identify any issues if your pup avoids crunching or chewing. Here are our top dog feeding tips for better oral health.

Turbo, the Pitbull, posing with his specially designed Farm to Pet Chicken Chip bag.
Turbo and his healthy Farm to Pet Chicken Chips

Healthy Dog Treats & Foods

There are a plethora of dog dental treats that are made specifically to remove plaque buildup, clean a dog’s mouth and freshen breath and that are generally appreciated by dogs more than a toothbrush or tooth wipes! There are even prescription treats and foods for dogs that need more intensive care for oral conditions. However, feeding crunchy single-ingredient treats – like ours at Farm To Pet! – and limited ingredient kibble on a regular basis helps keep canine teeth strong, clean and healthy for the long haul. Unlike wet or soft foods, the chewing and crunching action helps rub the teeth’s surface, and the fact that these options have little or no flour means less chance that they will become gummy and stick to teeth.

Organic Dog Chews

The aforementioned benefits of chewing are reaped to the max with long-lasting dog chews – mainly deer and elk antler chews! These all-natural options are less likely to break than bones and don’t have the offensive smell that other chews like rawhide can, yet they are totally digestible and a great source of minerals and protein. Our organic antler chews at Farm to Pet come in different sizes and split or whole varieties to appeal to any size or chewing style. Still, they all help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup as they provide puppos hours of chewing pleasure! As always, watch dogs while they chew, especially if they have oral issues.

Dental Water Additives

Tasteless liquids can also be added to our dogs’ water bowls to support better dog dental health. According to, the key ingredients in these additives work by reducing bacteria and microbes (stabilized chlorine dioxide), regulating oral pH to deter tartar buildup (sodium citrate), and/or providing immune support and reducing odor-causing bacteria (zinc chloride). Even though most are entirely safe, just be sure to avoid any product that contains xylitol or chlorhexidine gluconate, both of which are toxic to dogs. When in doubt, talk to your vet!

We hope this sheds some light on how and why dog dental health is so important to overall canine health and wellness. There are many ways to keep our dog’s mouths and teeth as clean, healthy and strong as possible, such as with regular at-home or professional cleanings, nutritious diets, and healthy dog treats and chews, all accompanied by regular veterinary exams and loving care, of course. 

Maisey, the goldendoodle, cleaning her canines  with a Farm to Pet Elk Antler Organic Chew.
Cleaning canines with an Organic Elk Antler Chew

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