Top Seven Picks for Best Dog Toothpaste in 2022

Dogs can start to show symptoms of gum and dental diseases by age three, but the risk can lower with consistent tooth brushing. Recent studies have found that upwards of 86% of dogs might have periodontal disease.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is characterized as infection and inflammation of the gums due to abundant plaque bacteria. Gingivitis, a more commonly known condition, is a less severe version of periodontal disease.

The effects of poor mouth help have far-reaching implications. Bacteria from mouth infections can enter dogs’ bloodstreams, causing the bacteria to accumulate near the heart.

It’s so important to be mindful of what methods you use to clean your dog’s teeth. Do your research, and determine what types of toothpaste and dental dog toys would work best for your furbaby.

1. C.E.T. Enzymatic Dog and Cat Toothpaste

The C.E.T. Enzymatic toothpaste is a favorite among vets, pet parents, and dogs. This brand has become the #1 recommended dental product line among veterinarians, which should ease pet parents’ minds.

With C.E.T.’s dual enzyme system, this toothpaste actively fights plaque as it forms. It also lessens tartar buildup and freshens breath, two must-haves in a canine toothpaste.

This formula comes in delicious flavors that any pet will love, turning brushing time into fun time. Cleanse your pet’s palette with flavors like seafood, beef, poultry, and vanilla-mint.

The formula works for both dogs and cats, so multi-pet households will not have to look any further.

2. Toys That Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

A traditional toothbrush and toothpaste are far from the only ways to ensure a healthy mouth for your pet. Whether your dog does not tolerate brushing or if you want another method to help, dental toys are a wonderful option.

In order to make your dog’s teeth cleaning routine fun, look into toys such as the KONG Dental Stick™.

Your dog loves this toy because it satisfies their natural instincts to chew and chase. Meanwhile, you love this toy because the unique rubber grooves clean your pet’s teeth as they play. That’s equal parts mental enrichment and dental health help. Plus, with three sizes, every dog member of your household can get in on the fun.

Looking for a little more guidance? KONG has just the thing to help your fluffy friend thrive:

The KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box

It is no secret that dental health is just one aspect of a dog’s wellness. Dogs are complex creatures with unique needs based on their innate instincts.

This is where the KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box really shines.

Each month, you and your dog will receive a box filled with exciting toys, treats, and recipes. These boxes focus on the building blocks of dog wellness while also being just plain fun.

Your dog is one-of-kind; they can’t be put in a single box. That’s why each KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box is formulated by a team of animal experts based on your pet’s unique needs.

3. Try Dental Treats

Making the teeth cleaning process a pleasant one can seem challenging, but dental treats make it easy!

KONG’s Ziggies Dental Treats put the “fun” in function. They’re chicken flavored, so dogs can’t get enough. Meanwhile, pet parents can’t get enough of how fresh their dog’s breath is.

4. Pick a Toothpaste With a Flavor Everyone Can Agree On

Dog toothpaste doesn’t come in flavors like bubblegum or cinnamon. Our dogs are much more excited about bacon and other meat-inspired recipes.

However, pet parents will still have to smell their dog’s breath afterward.

Some pet parents prefer to use unflavored toothpaste that leaves no smell behind. Your dog might not be as excited about the taste, but that is okay if they don’t mind brushing. A more pungent flavor might be best for dogs who are less than happy about getting their teeth brushed.

5. Formulas With All-Natural Ingredients

For dogs with more sensitive stomachs or pet parents who prefer more organic products, there are formulas for you:

Some dog toothpastes utilize ingredients such as aloe vera. Not only will aloe vera freshen your dog’s breath, but it will also soothe unpleasant symptoms that arise due to gum disease. Other all-natural toothpaste ingredients might include coconut oil, sweet potato, and olive leaf extract.

6. Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

Unlike humans, dogs are going to swallow almost all of their toothpaste. This means that their formulas cannot include potentially harmful ingredients.

Both humans and dogs are better off avoiding parabens and sulfates. However, human dentists recommend fluoride for people’s toothpaste. This is where our similarities end.

Fluoride is dangerous to dogs which is why pet parents and pets should never share a tube of toothpaste.

7. Formulas Without Artificial Sweeteners Like Xylitol

Artificial sweeteners are not ideal for anyone, but common ingredients like xylitol pose a real threat to dogs. This artificial sweetener can cause hypoglycemia in dogs. Hypoglycemia is a serious drop in blood sugar that can lead to coma or even death.

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Dogs should have their teeth brushed roughly as often as humans.

If you are not yet ready to commit to brushing your dog’s teeth on the same schedule as yours, you have options. A dog’s teeth must be brushed at least three times per week to effectively remove plaque, bacteria, and other buildup. Many pet parents will land somewhere between these two frequencies.

Signs That Your Dog’s Teeth Need More Brushing

It is often difficult for pet parents to recognize when their dog is experiencing oral pain. Dogs can be quite adept at hiding these issues, so we have to be on alert to see warning signs as they come up. By the time they are eating less due to pain, the issue is already quite severe.

Some symptoms of gum disease in dogs include:

  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Eating less or reduced appetite
  • Unpleasant odor around the mouth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Drooling
  • Missing teeth

Should You Start Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth as a Puppy?

The earlier you start brushing your dog’s teeth, the better.

First, cleaning your dog’s teeth from an early age means that plaque and bacteria will not have the chance to build up, helping your dog’s teeth in the long run.

By starting your dog on a brushing routine when they are young, you are also getting them used to having their teeth brushed. Handling dogs all over their bodies is a necessary part of the socialization process. When this is done early, dogs are better adjusted and more comfortable as adults.

If an adult dog has never had their teeth brushed as a puppy, they might not tolerate it well. However, if they understand that there is no threat to their teeth being brushed, they will learn to tolerate it. As time goes on, they could even learn to enjoy the process.

How Do You Brush a Dog’s Teeth?

Once pet parents understand the importance of brushing their dogs’ teeth, their next question is inevitable: How do you do it? Though the prospect might seem intimidating at first, it does not have to be.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, focus more on lifting their lip rather than forcibly opening their mouth. Use small circular motions to thoroughly clean their teeth. If your dog can only tolerate so much handling, spend most of your time on the back teeth. The top back teeth are especially likely to suffer from gum disorders.

If you find it difficult to keep your dog still while brushing their teeth, it might be a matter of position. Next time, try to get either behind or beside your dog, depending on their size.

Use your arm to steady their head, but not to force it in any one position. If your dog views getting their teeth brushed as a very negative experience, it will be even more difficult in the future.

It’s best to start with shorter brushing sessions and gradually increase the time. For dogs just getting started, try introducing them to the brush with the (yummy) toothpaste, letting them taste it.

Additionally, you want to make the whole process as positive as possible. Try feeding your dog shortly after, praising, playing, or petting them. You know your dog best, so opt for what incentivizes them the most.

How Else Can We Help Our Dogs’ Teeth?

In addition to regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, you should also take your dog to the vet for special dental visits. Most veterinary professionals recommend that dogs get their teeth professionally looked at once per year, starting as puppies.

This visit can involve a teeth cleaning or potential X-Rays. Your vet will also visually inspect your dog’s mouth.

The best way to ensure your dog’s smile remains healthy for years to come is by combining an at-home dental routine with regular dental visits. We indeed know our pets best, but vets are specifically trained to see abnormalities that we might not know about.

Brushing Up

Over time, dental issues that seem insignificant can become serious problems. If left unattended, dental disease can lead to issues in your dog’s heart, liver, and kidneys. These issues can be lessened or thwarted entirely if a dental routine is established and closely followed.

If you have more questions about your canine’s canines, you can reach out to the vets and pet experts in the KONG Club App for personalized care tips and tricks.

Sources:

A Cross-Sectional Study To Estimate Prevalence of Periodontal Disease in a Population of Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Commercial Breeding Facilities in Indiana and Illinois | PMC

Periodontal Disease in Small Animals | Merck Vet Manual

Hypoglycemia in Dogs: Causes, Management, and Diagnosis | PMC

​​Periodontal Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Greensboro Vet

​​Fluoride Poisoning – Special Pet Topics | Merck Veterinary Manual

7 Best Dog Shampoos for Dry, Itchy Skin

After living with your dog for ten days or maybe ten years, you might have noticed them occasionally scratching themselves. If you suspect that your pet is scratching themselves more often than is normal, keep an eye on them. Do they scratch the same spot over and over without stopping?

Poor pooch! Your dog might be experiencing the effects of dry or itchy skin.

What Causes Dry and Itchy Skin in Dogs?

Take a look at the skin in the area where they are regularly scratching. Does that spot appear to be red, swollen, or overly dry? If so, there might be an underlying condition going on.

Dry skin is very common for both dogs and people at different times of the year, but here are some possible explanations:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Cold weather
  • Fleas or ticks
  • Skin infection
  • A hormone imbalance

If your dog is experiencing an allergy, try to remove the allergen whenever possible. Some dogs are allergic to types of meats, the material of their dog bowls, or certain cleaning supplies. Dogs can also experience dust allergies, so be sure to often clean surfaces in your home.

If you spot fleas, ticks, or other pests on your dog’s skin, that might require separate treatments and shampoo. Your dog’s health is of paramount importance. If they’re experiencing other health issues or their itching doesn’t calm down, it is time to bring them to the vet.

How Do You Decide What Shampoo Is Best for Your Dog?

One remedy pet parents have to help their dogs overcome their itchy skin is a bath. As long as your dog is not scratching due to an infestation that requires its own special shampoo, you are best off using a product made to address itchiness.

Here are a few of our favorite brands and types of dog shampoo specifically formulated to soothe itchy skin:

1. Skout’s Honor

Skout’s Honor is a brand that is fully dedicated to dog wellness. They utilize probiotics to help your dog feel better, look better, and be better.

This shampoo contains beneficial ingredients such as avocado oil and topical probiotics. Skout’s Honor promotes a healthy microbiome, soothing your dog’s skin quickly.

2. Dog Shampoos Containing Oatmeal

Dog shampoos that contain oatmeal have been a go-to for itchy skin sufferers for many years. Pet parents and veterinarians both flock to this remarkable ingredient for its anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the itchiness and discomfort that dogs feel due to allergies or irritation comes from inflammation.

By utilizing oatmeal, a layer of moisture is also being locked into your dog’s skin, keeping them moisturized and comfortable for longer.

3. Dog Shampoos With Shea Butter

Not only does shea butter do wonders on a dog’s skin, but it also helps their fur look better than ever. Since shea butter is so moisturizing, it adds shine and luster to a dog’s coat as well. They will feel much better due to shea butter’s inherent soothing properties, but they will also look better (and smell oh-so-nice).

4. Dog Shampoos With Aloe Vera

Much like shea butter, aloe vera is a natural ingredient that has been used for centuries to treat dry skin. This ingredient is safe for humans as well as dogs, so both species can experience its soothing effects. According to research, aloe vera can improve dogs’ skin.

If your dog experiences allergies, gets dandruff in the winter, or simply experiences occasional itchiness, check out products with aloe vera.

6. Shampoos That Do Not Contain Dyes

Added dyes are generally only put in products for aesthetics and serve no actual purpose. In fact, rather than benefiting your dog, they can even lead to increased irritation. If your dog has sensitive skin, it is best to skip this unnecessary additive.

7. Formulas That Are Free of Parabens

Parabens are a nuisance for dogs, people, and creatures of any species. Due to this, products containing these pesky endocrine disruptors should be avoided whenever possible. Parabens are artificial preservatives used to increase the shelf life of a product, but they can do real harm in the process.

Parabens contribute to various possible ailments having to do with the production of hormones. Scientists are now suggesting that parabens negatively affect our dogs’ health.

All of this is to say that they are an ingredient that should be avoided at all costs. Parabens aren’t man’s best friend or dog’s best friend.

How Does Bathing Support Canine Health?

Even dogs who are not experiencing any skin discomfort can still benefit from the occasional bath. The process keeps them free of dirt and grime that could be irritating and makes them smell much better for their pet parents.

Giving your dog an occasional bath is just another way that you can help your dog thrive. The frequency and intensity of their spa treatments are contingent on regular activities, health conditions, and breed type.

Improving Your Dog’s Life With a Click

Bathing your dog is far from the only way that you can nurture your pet’s overall wellness. Dogs have natural instincts that tell them to chase, chew, and play.

For your dog to stay happy and healthy, these instincts have to be engaged. The KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box helps you and your dog do just that in a convenient and fun way.

Each box that you receive revolves around a building block of dog wellness that will help to keep them their best selves. They come complete with dog toys, treats, and recipes that will simultaneously keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated.

At the same time, you and your pet will also be strengthening your relationship while using these items.

Do Different Dogs Require Different Shampoos?

Not all dogs are built the same, so it stands to reason that some dogs would need specific kinds of shampoo. For example, if you look at a Pomeranian’s coat versus a Rottweiler’s, they are going to have completely different requirements. (That, and you are likely to go through much more shampoo with a Rottweiler.)

Puppies Often Need Special Shampoo Just for Them

Dog parents know that puppies require specific toys made just for puppies.

Not to make it about us all the time, but it’s not just puppies; children use their own kinds of shampoo too. Puppies (and children) often need shampoos that are specially formulated for them.

So what are the differences between dog shampoo for adults and puppy shampoo?

Well, puppy shampoos typically use gentler ingredients, as their skin might be more sensitive. The formulas are also more likely to be no-tear to avoid any discomfort.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Nope! Human shampoo is not appropriate for dogs largely because of our skins’ different pH levels. Human skin has a pH balance of 5.5 to 5.6 and is more acidic than the pH of dogs’ skin which is a more neutral 6.2 to 7.4.

Human shampoo will wreak havoc on your dog’s acid mantle (the thin layer on top of the skin). It’s too harsh for our pooches. Luckily, unlike your hamburger, your dog won’t be begging for you to share your shampoo with them.

How Do You Bathe High-Shedding Dog Breeds?

One of the most effective ways to get ahead of the shedding process is to bathe your dog. By properly giving them a bath, you will remove any dirt and dead hair before it has the opportunity to fall out around the house. If you have a high-shedding dog with longer hair, tools can be beneficial to truly get the most out of bath time.

Use Tools To Ease the Process

Ease any knots or mats out of your dog’s hair before going into the bath. The brushing can still continue even after they are in the bath, as long as the right tool is used. Long-haired dogs can benefit greatly from using a brush to distribute the shampoo throughout their coats.

That is why KONG has the Zoomgroom™ Boysenberry to massage your dog’s skin and promote natural oil production. These natural oils moisturize your pet, easing discomfort from itchiness. The massage will help them feel better, just like an extra-special cuddle session.

An Itch To Scratch

If you think that your dog is suffering from dry or itchy skin, you might not know what your next steps should be. After identifying redness, dryness, or irritation on the skin, a soothing bath can be just what the veterinarian ordered.

Use the right kinds of shampoo with proper ingredients and the right tools in the process. Once you do, your dog will be feeling better before you know it.

Sources:

The Therapeutic Efficacy of Aloe vera Gel Ointment on Staphylococcal Pyoderma in Dogs – PMC | National Institutes of Health

Study Links Skin Allergies in Dogs to Problem Behaviors | American Veterinary Medical Association

Biomonitoring Parabens in Dogs Using Fur Sample Analysis | ScienceDirect

Evaluation of the effect of pH on in vitro growth of Malassezia pachydermatis | NCBI

Diabetes in Cats: Symptoms of Feline Diabetes

Just like humans, cats can also suffer from diabetes. This can be a scary diagnosis for your cat, especially if left unchecked. Let’s discuss the signs of diabetes so you can keep a special eye on your furry friend and get them the treatment they need if you suspect diabetes. 

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone called insulin, or the body doesn’t respond correctly to insulin. Insulin is used in the body to process sugar (called glucose) in the body effectively. Without it, your cat may appear malnourished and may exhibit other symptoms. 

There are two types of diabetes that can be present in cats, Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to help balance blood sugar and blood glucose levels.

Type II diabetes is when the pancreas produces insulin, but the body does not respond to it correctly. This is called insulin resistance.

Type II diabetes mellitus is most prevalent in cats and is mainly caused by obesity. This is a big reason why you should monitor your cat’s weight and encourage your cat to stay active.

Playing with toys is an easy way to keep your cat active and trim.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The following symptoms are the most common to see in a diabetic cat. It can be hard to spot these symptoms if your cat has just recently developed diabetes.

If you notice that something is a little off with your cat, it may be helpful to record any behaviors in a notebook so you can check for patterns. The earlier diabetes is caught, the better, as untreated diabetes can cause your cat to become very ill. 

Consider these following clinical signs:

Increased Urination

If you find that your cat is using their litter box more often to urinate, this can be indicative of diabetes. The kidneys can become overwhelmed. This causes an excessive amount of sugar to be present in the blood. This causes your cat’s urine to become more diluted, and they will have to relieve themselves more often.

This symptom may be one of the harder to spot in your cat, especially if they are on a wet food diet. Your cat may not have as much of a need to drink water as they will intake an ample amount of water in their wet food. Keep an eye on their litter box if you suspect that your cat is urinating more than usual.

Thirsty Kitty

You may find yourself refilling your cat’s water bowl much more than you used to. With the increased urination (polyuria), your kitty will need to drink more water to replace the water that was lost in their body. Your cat will feel dehydrated and will drink copious amounts of water to quench their thirst.

This increased thirst is called polydipsia. 

Second and Third Helpings: Increased Appetite

Since your cat’s cells are not able to properly process the glucose in the food it ingests, your cat will still feel hungry as their body is not obtaining the nutrients it needs. This causes your cat’s appetite to increase, and your kitty may never seem like they are satisfied after eating bowl after bowl of food.

Weight Loss

Although your cat may be eating more food, they are looking quite skinny. Since glucose in your cat’s food is not able to be processed, your cat’s body has to look for other ways to sustain itself. It will start to burn fat and then muscle, causing your kitty to lose weight. 

Weakness and Lethargy

If your cat is not jumping into their cat tree or perch, and they seem to be lethargic, their energy levels could be off. Decreased energy can be caused by the body not being able to process nutrients properly and instead burns muscle. 

If your cat’s walk changes, especially how they move their back legs, this also can be a sign of untreated diabetes. Damage to the nerves from high levels of glucose can leave your cat feeling wobbly on their legs, and they may not be able to keep themselves up on the paws. Instead, you’ll find that your cat will walk on their hocks. This looks as if your cat has long back feet.

Next Steps

If you witness these combined symptoms in your cat, taking your cat to the veterinarian clinic is the next important step. Untreated diabetes is harmful to your cat and can make them very ill.

Vets will often run blood and urine tests to determine if the cause of these symptoms is indeed diabetes. This will include monitoring the presence of glucose in your cat’s blood and urine. With type 1 diabetes, your vet will likely see high blood glucose concentrations.

Your vet will likely run other tests so they can make certain that these symptoms are not caused by other ailments, like kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. 

Treatment

The good news is that diabetes is treatable in cats. It may take some time to come to the perfect treatment plan, as your cat’s needs may change over time. It’s vital to have regular appointments with your cat’s veterinarian so they can keep track of their glucose levels and make adjustments as needed to keep your cat’s glucose levels stable.

You’ll also need to keep track of their dietary and water intake, as well as weight, to determine if the treatments are beneficial to your cat. 

Insulin therapy, as well as a balanced diet, is the best combination for the treatment of feline diabetes. Oral medications are not considered to be as effective.

Insulin injections may seem daunting, but with practice, you will be a pro at administering the medicine that is life-saving to your cat. Your veterinarian or vet techs can give you a crash course in administering injections, and you can practice on fruit until you have the hang of it.

The needle size is very small, and cats respond well to the injections. Timing of injections is essential as well. Cats typically receive two injections a day, spaced 12 hours apart. Your veterinarian will determine the type of insulin used after considering the specific levels and needs of your cat.

When it comes to your cat’s diet, a low carbohydrate plan is best for lowering the amount of insulin your cat needs. Dry cat foods are carbohydrate-heavy, so a canned diet may be best for your cat.

Of course, consulting your veterinarian is vital when making a diet change as they can recommend effective brands, or they might recommend prescription food for your cat.

Diabetic Remission

In time, your cat may even go into remission with effective treatment. If your cat does go into remission, this means that their body is able to maintain glucose levels without the help of extra insulin. This does not mean that your cat is fully cured, so they will need to continue with their special diet. 

It is important to keep up with constant monitoring to look for possible remission because your cat may become ill if they receive insulin that they do not need. This illness is called hypoglycemia and happens when the insulin causes the body’s glucose levels to drop too far.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include being disoriented. Your cat may appear glassy-eyed and may start to drool. They may have poor coordination and run into furniture or not be able to walk normally. Your cat may also show odd behaviors, like yowling and wanting to hide.

If this occurs, you’ll want to have your cat ingest a form of sugar into their diet right away. You can do this by mixing honey in your cat’s food. If they are not interested in their food, you can rub the honey or even sugar onto their gums.

If the hypoglycemia is too intense, your cat could go into a coma or have seizures due to the cat’s blood sugar falling too low. It can be a very scary ordeal, so keeping insulin levels in the right range is important. 

There is a possibility that your cat may not go into remission and will need to continue with treatment for the rest of their life. If it has been over six months since your cat was diagnosed with diabetes, and they have not entered remission, it is likely that lifelong treatment will be the plan. 

Continued Treatment and Care

Diabetes is a lifelong issue, but it is treatable. Keeping your cat’s treatment consistent and changing when necessary is key to keeping your furry feline friend healthy. 

With any concerned pet parent, you are bound to have questions. Being a member of the Kong Club is a great way to keep your pet healthy and happy.

Kong Club members have access to AskVet’s veterinarians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a great resource to have when you have a quick question (or even an emergency) and are not able to connect with your regular veterinarian. Not only can you access the best vets, but you can also chat with animal dieticians and behaviorists for an even wider range of inquiries. 

Plus, if an emergency does occur, the Rainy Day Fund can help cover any unexpected emergency visits. 

Pet parents also have the Kong Clubhouse to trade advice and tips. We all love to talk about our pets, and this is a great place to discuss our pet’s health and offer encouragement. Not to mention the free monthly Kong gift for your pet! 

Although feline diabetes can be a scary thing, your friends at Kong Club are here to support you and your furry pal.

 

Sources:

4 Possible Signs of Diabetes in Cats | Boehringer-Ingelheim

Feline Diabetes | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Diabetes Mellitus In Cats Overview | VCA Animal Hospitals

Polyuria – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

How To Stop Dogs From Nipping & Biting When Excited

Dog subscription box to help stop dogs from nipping and biting

The excitement and joy we regularly see in our dogs are enviable, to say the least, especially on days where even a fleeting bit of energy seems impossible to come by. However, there are times that their excitement can manifest in ways that go beyond just cute and actually become somewhat destructive.

Not only do these behaviors have the capacity to harm furniture and your dog’s surrounding environment, but they also have the ability to hurt pet parents as well.

One of the most notable and common of these excited but destructive behaviors is when dogs start nipping and biting. They may do this to a toy, they may do it to the couch, or they may do it to your hand. It is always essential to redirect this energy in a way that is equal parts productive and non-destructive.

Learn how to correct and redirect this behavior below:

Why Do Dogs Nip and Bite?

It is exceedingly common for dogs to mouth on different surfaces and items. This is especially true in the case of puppies. Puppies are almost always nibbling on something.

This is one of their primary ways of exploring the world around them. Puppies are even more inquisitive than their adult counterparts, so everything becomes a potential object of their biting affection.

In all likelihood, a puppy who is nipping at something does not mean to cause any harm or damage. They are just simply trying to explore, and this is their preferred way of going about it. After all, they cannot use their hands like humans can. Instead, they are left with the option to sniff and bite.

Adult dogs could similarly be using nipping as a method of exploration, or they could see it as a form of play. It is also possible that biting could be a show of aggression from your dog.

If this is the case, it will probably be accompanied by other signs such as growling and barking. Small to midsize dogs have been found more likely to bite, contrary to some common beliefs about large dogs.

Identify the Motivation Behind Your Dog’s Nipping

Once you know exactly why your dog is nipping and biting improperly, the path to eventually eliminating this behavior will become much more clear.

It’s time to talk training. Puppies are undoubtedly rambunctious and mischievous, but they are also eager to please and ready to learn. 

By teaching them bite inhibition (more on that later), they will become much more mild-mannered adults. In addition, you will avoid some unpleasant teeth marks in the meantime.

We must socialize and teach our dogs about acceptable behaviors when they are young because these lessons easily follow them into adulthood. Then again, nipping may also be a common behavior in adult dogs. If you have just recently adopted or rescued your adult dog, you might not know their entire training history or full details on their past lives.

As such, it is possible that they were never taught not to bite when they were younger. Luckily, this process can still be performed when they are adults, as there is absolutely no credence to the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

In fact, in some ways, adult dogs are actually easier to teach than puppies. Their energy has leveled out much more. As dogs mature into adulthood, they are able to focus for longer periods of time

Teach Them Bite Inhibition and To Be Gentle When Playing

Bite inhibition is all about getting your dog to understand that biting should never occur with too much force behind it. This is a crucial lesson to avoid any accidental harm during otherwise innocent play or excitement.

Bite inhibition also comes into play when your dog is afraid or possibly displaying more defensive behaviors. If they have been properly trained, they will still hold back on the force of their bite.

In order to teach a dog bite inhibition, there are a few different routes that can be taken. First, if your dog bites you, try to let out a louder yelp-like noise or an “ow” or “hey” to indicate pain and displeasure.

This works well because many dogs learn bite inhibition from their mothers or littermates. Nipping is common when playing with other dogs, but if they bite too hard, one of their siblings will probably make a loud noise. This negative social reinforcement deters them from biting that hard in the future. Making a yelping sound mimics that lesson they learn from their fellow dogs.

This could cause some dogs to become more excited, which is the opposite of the goal. If this appears to be the case for your dog, rather than making a noise, simply turn away quietly. Biting should always lead to a form of timeout. If in the middle of playing and a bite occurs, all play should cease. 

Give Them Toys and Items That Are Safe To Bite

Bite inhibition is an important practice for those occasions when a bite or nip does occur. But, generally speaking, you should be able to anticipate your dog’s needs and have a deterrent ready. This will teach them to direct their biting onto toys and appropriate items, creating an association that your hands are not for biting.

For puppies that are teething or dogs who simply can’t quite kick nipping completely, it is important to give them alternatives that are safe to bite. Expecting absolutely no biting at any time is getting rid of a large way that your dog explores their world. Rather than eliminating this practice in every aspect of your dog’s life and behaviors, focus on making sure that any remaining biting is productive.

Be sure to keep toys that are appropriate for biting nearby so that you can always have them available and at the ready whenever your dog starts getting nippy.

Find Productive Ways To Get Rid of Your Dog’s Excess Energy

The exact amount of energy that your dog is working with per day will depend on a variety of factors, such as their gender, breed, age, and stage of maturity. Just like with humans, some days will simply be higher energy than others. Alternatively, your dog may also have days where they only seem to get up to eat, use the bathroom, and switch to another cozy surface. 

Days where your dog can’t seem to get out of bed and days where your dog is endlessly excited have their advantages and disadvantages. On those days when your dog just cannot seem to get enough playtime, it is a worthwhile practice to take them outside for some high-quality exercise.

Perhaps your dog can’t get enough of a long walk or a fun-filled hike. If you do not have the time for those or your dog has already had their walk, take them out for some fetch and other games.

Not only will these go a long way in tiring out your dog and making them much less likely to nip, but playing together also strengthens the bond between pet and pet parent significantly.

Do Not Use Your Fingers To Get Them Ready for Play

Even if your training is excellent, just about any dog might be prone to misunderstanding the rules on nipping if your fingers are only sometimes playthings.

In these moments, your dog is amped up. Even if they might not mean to bite your hand, everything may blend together as one big toy for them to play with.

If they do bite your hand or fingers, this is when having taught bite inhibition is so crucial. No matter what, your dog will know not to bite down too hard, avoiding any harm to you beyond some slight discomfort and possible weird marks. If your dog does bite you while playing, do not quickly or unpredictably jerk your hand away.

Even though this might be a perfectly reasonable instinct to escape their grasp, this will likely only tell your dog that the game is continuing. Depending on how you move away, this action could mimic the motion of a toy.

Appropriate Excitement Behaviors Are Possible

Even when your dog’s excitement feels overwhelming, it is always possible to teach them proper methods of showing their feelings. Through careful training and an abundance of patience, your dog can learn to only bite appropriate objects and leave both your hand and unsuspecting furniture alone.

If you are at all concerned that your dog’s nipping and biting may go beyond ways of showing simple excitement, or if you just have any questions regarding these or other behaviors, know that there are qualified professionals always available to help.

A subscription to KONG Club will provide your dog with a monthly box of toys and treats that are great for both training and distraction. Additionally, with the KONG Club app, you can work directly with our trainers and coaches to build plans that help manage your pet’s behavior and daily wellness.

 

Sources:

Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed | American Veterinary Medical Association

Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior | National Center for Biotechnology Information

Energy Requirements of Adult Dogs: A Meta-Analysis | National Center for Biotechnology Information

Lifespan development of attentiveness in domestic dogs: drawing parallels with humans | NCBI

Puppy Teething Troubles? There’s A Box For That

puppies with KONG

Just like human babies, puppies also must go through a painful teething process. This experience can be tough on puppies and their parents. Puppies want to bite everything in sight to relieve their pain and keeping their mouths occupied requires the right tools and a little bit of training. It can be overwhelming to know what to do and how best to take care of your new adorable pup. But lucky for you, KONG Club has created a box that gives you everything you and your puppy need to get through this stage.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WITH PUPPY TEETHING?

Did you know that the teething process for puppies starts early on? At as young as 2 weeks, your puppy will begin to grow their baby teeth. By about 6 weeks old, all of your puppy’s teeth will have grown in (about 28). This usually means that by the time you take your puppy home from a shelter or breeder — usually after 8 weeks — they’ve already experienced some teething.

That leads us to the most difficult part of your puppy’s teething, which is between 3 to 6 months. This is when their baby teeth begin to fall out. Don’t be alarmed if, when you walk around the house, you find teeth on the ground — though you may not find any teeth at all, since puppies tend to swallow a lot of the teeth that they lose. This usually happens because teeth fall out easily as they’re eating food or chewing on a toy.

During this time, you’ll also see some other dog teething symptoms. One, is that your puppy may be drooling more than usual. Don’t worry about this, as it’s completely normal. You’ll also probably find spots of blood on toys or other items they’ve chewed, which is also a sign of teething. This can happen when their gums are sore or when teeth have recently fallen out.

Another symptom that’s hard to miss is that your puppy will bite a lot. Mouthing and nipping at your hands and other items is pretty normal, but also pretty painful for you, since puppies have really sharp, thin teeth. While it’s healthy for puppies (and dogs in general) to explore the world using their mouths, it’s important to teach your puppy while they’re young what is acceptable to chew and what isn’t. You can also teach them to be more gentle when they bite, which is called bite inhibition. When your puppy bites at your skin, you can yelp and quit playing with them. This is what their siblings do and will help them learn that skin is sensitive and to be gentle if they nibble on your hands. While this is an important lesson to teach your puppy, in the end, you want to teach them to avoid biting you or other people in general by giving them proper distractions.

HOW CAN I HELP?

While teething is an important part of your puppy’s growth, it can be hard to know what to do when your dog is teething. To help promote the growth of new teeth, puppies need to chew. Additionally, chewing helps ease the pain puppies experience in their jaw and gums. One of the best things for their sore gums and growing teeth is soft rubber. It feels good on their sensitive gums and is easy for their smaller, more fragile teeth to chew. which is why your first KONG Club box includes a KONG Classic made specifically with puppies in mind. If you’ve never used a KONG Classic before, they’re a customer favorite because they’re incredibly durable and versatile.

To alleviate pain, your puppy-sized KONG Classic can be thrown in the fridge or freezer. When your puppy chews on the toy, the cool temperature will soothe their gums. Additionally, our KONG Classic can be filled with treats or water and thrown in the freezer. After the treats or water have frozen, pull them out and give them to your puppy to keep their teeth occupied for a longer amount of time. They’ll love being able to enjoy this cool, tasty treat and the relief that comes from it.

Still not confident about how to handle teething? Another great thing about our boxes is that you’ll get helpful advice from dog experts. These training cards provide helpful tips to successfully work through growing pains together with your puppy.

Here at KONG Club, we believe the bond between dogs and owners is so important. And we know that every dog parent wants to give their furry friend only the best life. With specially selected toys, treats, and training tips at your disposal, you can help your dog become the happiest, best version of themselves. And when they’re happy, you’re happy.

Spaying & Neutering: Everything You Need To Know

As your puppy grows, they go through a lot of hormonal changes. With this comes the question of when to fix your dog. This is an important decision to make and one that’s part of being a responsible dog owner. The only problem is, there’s a lot of information out there about when to spay or neuter your pup that can make it tough to know if you’re making the right choice. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re looking into neutering or spaying your dog.

Gender

Your dog’s gender can have a big impact on what age you decide to neuter. For female dogs, getting fixed at a younger age is beneficial for a few different reasons. One, she won’t go into heat and attract the attention of other males, leading to a possible accidental pregnancy. Two, you won’t have to deal with periods. Female dogs can go into heat as early as 6 months or as late as 12 months. Generally, vets recommend letting your pup have one heat cycle before fixing them.

For male dogs, you can fix them between 6 and 9 months. However, many experts advise fixing your dog later for a variety of reasons, such as breed, size, and more. So it’s best to get your dog checked out by a licensed veterinarian before making this decision.

Breed

Another consideration in your decision is what kind of dog you own. There are certain health concerns that are specific to each breed, which is why it’s important to both talk to your vet and research how spay and neutering might affect your dog’s specific breed. For instance, when it comes to larger breeds, many vets and other experts recommend waiting one and a half or two years to fix your dog to allow their growth plates to close. If neutered or spayed before this time, your dog may be more prone to joint problems. There could also be an increase in risk for cancer if the procedure is done before that age.

Medical Benefits

There are some general medical benefits that your dog may gain from getting spayed or neutered. Male dogs are less likely to get prostate cancer, while female dogs are less at risk for mammary tumors and uterus infections.

Behavioral Benefits

If you’re frustrated with your dog’s behavior, there is a chance that neutering or spaying them may help. For male dogs in particular, there can be some frustrating side effects of their hormones — like wanting to roam, humping, marking inside the house, or aggression toward other male dogs. Some of these issues can be solved with quick corrections and better training, but in some cases, neutering can be a good choice to help alleviate these issues.

Just know that not all behavioral problems will be solved by simply neutering. If your male dog still shows aggression after being neutered, they may need help working through that with your or a professional trainer.

Summary

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to neutering and spaying. Every dog is unique, which means that you’ll benefit from doing breed research online and consulting with at least one vet to know when the right age is to neuter or spay, or if you want to go that route at all. At the end of the day, all we want is for our pets to be their happiest and healthiest selves. Reach out to the vets in your KONG Club app for information and advice about spaying or neutering your dog

Dog Licking & Chewing Paws: What It Means & When to Worry

Dog cleaning his paw

Dogs’ paws are absolutely adorable. Ask any dog owner past, present, or future, and they are sure to give you the same answer. You could even ask anyone on one of the nearly countless dog-obsessed groups online.

In fact, many of those groups are specifically dedicated to dogs’ paws. We think of those adorable paws as super sturdy. After all, not many dogs wear shoes. However, these paws can be more fragile than some would assume. As such, it is important to keep an eye out if their behavior toward their paws seems out of the ordinary.

If you are used to witnessing your dog occasionally groom their paws but largely leave them alone, it might seem jarring if they suddenly begin to pay much more attention to them. Understandably, this could serve as somewhat of a cause for alarm for concerned pet parents. Remember during this time that a dog licking and chewing their paws could come from a whole host of different causes and signify many possibilities.

A dog who enjoys regularly licking and chewing on their paws could mean any number of things. For one, it is possible that this habit means absolutely nothing.

On the other hand, it is also a possibility that your dog’s behavior could be an indicator of a health concern. So, before you determine exactly what is causing your dog to lick and chew at their paws so frequently, you need to ask a few integral questions.

Let’s discuss what to look for and how to help our furry friends.

Is It Normal for a Dog To Lick and Chew Their Paws?

The answer is that yes, it can be perfectly normal and expected for dogs to lick and chew their pads. That being said, this behavior can become abnormal and a cause for concern if it becomes overly frequent.

As pet parents, it’s a joy for us to watch our pets go about their daily lives. Luckily, this helps our pets too. Watching our pets helps ensure they are hydrated, mentally stimulated, and are healthy overall.

It is only by knowing their average rituals when they are feeling perfectly healthy that you can best identify any and all changes. By being attentive and aware of how your dog acts regularly, you will know that your questions regarding their new state are warranted.

This way, you will also be much better equipped to give a thorough background of your dog’s medical history, which can be immensely helpful for their veterinarian.

What Should You Look Out for When Your Dog Is Licking and Chewing Their Paws?

Since it is entirely possible for licking and chewing of the paws to be an unremarkable behavior for dogs, you should know when to start to feel concerned.

To start, be sure to consider if this is something new that your dog has just recently picked up or if they have always done this. 

Secondly, it is helpful to pay attention to the frequency with which your dog licks their paws. If your pet has started chewing on them significantly more than they used to, that could also be a cause for concern.

Another indicator of something possibly being wrong with your dog’s paws is if they pay much more attention to one than the other. Also, if you hear your dog whining or making other noises while dealing with their paws, that could mean they are experiencing some pain or discomfort.

Is This a New Behavior?

Just to review, if your dog regularly grooms themself, it is possible that this is simply how your dog likes to operate. That being said, it is also possible that more frequent attention to the paws is the result of a chronic issue that should be addressed.

Grab a notebook and start keeping track of these changes; this will be super helpful information for your veterinarian if you need to ask for professional advice.

If your dog has only just now started licking and chewing their paws, it might seem more straightforward that something is amiss. Now, you must determine where the motivation behind this new behavior lies. This evidence will be key in improving your dog’s day-to-day life.

Grooming 

The first possibility of why your dog is licking and chewing their paws is quite a simple one. Dogs (and cats) groom themselves to keep themselves clean.

A Self-Soothing Mechanism

If your dog is experiencing stress, you might notice them licking their paws. This behavior can be calming, so just try to identify the source of the stress and remove it if possible.

It is also possible that your dog is licking their paws out of boredom. If this is the case, look for dog toys that offer mental stimulation, like interactive and treat dispensing toys. An occupied dog is a happy dog.

Experiencing Allergies

It’s not just us humans who are prone to experiencing allergies. In reality, allergies can bother a wide range of the animal kingdom.

Animals can absolutely have allergies, and this includes dogs. Like humans, a dog’s allergies are caused by the immune system going haywire when exposed to certain allergens. 

There is no special reason that one dog might be allergic to something while other dogs have no issue with it. Some pet parents worry that they somehow caused their dog to have this allergy, but that is not true.

Instead, whether or not your dog has allergies is really just the luck of the draw. Dogs can develop an allergy or food intolerance at any age throughout their lives, but the first reaction is typically seen between the ages of one and five. 

While your actions do not have any sway on your dog’s potential allergies, their genetics play a substantial role. As a result, there are certain dog breeds that are particularly likely to experience allergic reactions. For instance, Labrador Retrievers, English Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, West Highland White Terriers, Golden Retrievers, and French Bulldogs are all prone to having allergies.

There are also certain allergens that are more likely to cause a reaction. Here are some of the most common contenders:

Pollen and Grass

While pollen and grass are likely unavoidable on most walks with your dog, they can still cause allergies to flare up. Since your dog’s paws will often touch the grass, any allergies relating to that natural material are likely to manifest there.

Dust and Storage Mites

Even if the allergen that your dog comes into contact with does not touch their paws specifically, it is still possible that they will experience symptoms in that area.

In fact, itchy paws are one of the most common signs of allergies in dogs. If your home is dusty or could use a clean, your dog may have some discomfort as a result.

Mold

Breathing in mold is bad for anyone of any species, but it can also cause allergy symptoms to flare up in your dog. If they are suddenly licking and chewing at their paws much more than they did previously, it might be time to give your home a deep cleaning. Some mold types may require professional removal services.

However, it is important to note that many mold allergies are ubiquitous, meaning that they can exist both indoors and outdoors. So, it could be prudent to have a professional give your home and backyard a thorough inspection.

Household Cleaners or Detergents

While a deep cleaning can be beneficial for many different sources of dog allergies, make sure that the cleaner you are using is not the culprit.

It is possible that whatever detergent or household cleaner you use is causing discomfort. If you recently switched over to a new cleaner or formula, it might be time to switch back.

Their Food

Since so many of the common human allergens are found within the food that we eat, it is natural to assume that this might be the case for dogs as well. In reality, however, only between 10% and 20% of dogs with allergies are allergic to something in their food. 

The vast majority of the time, something else is the issue. If food appears to be the issue, you will need to perform a food test. Your vet may recommend a limited ingredient diet to try to isolate which food is upsetting your pup (the protein source is most often to blame).

A Skin Infection

Other than allergies, the cause of your dog’s itchy paws may be a skin infection.  Skin that has become infected may become red, swollen, warm to the touch, and may have brown or yellow discharge.

Bacteria and yeast will gladly multiply with help from the warmth and moisture of your dog’s licking and chewing. All of that licking and chewing opens up more holes in your dog’s skin barrier, allowing bacteria and yeast under the surface. Once under the skin, bacteria and yeast flourish and cause even more itchiness, redness, and discomfort.

Nails and Pads

Taking a quick look at your dog’s nails can be very enlightening. If their nails or paw pads appear inflamed or ingrown, that is something that could cause a lot of discomfort. Cutting your pet’s nails is a critical aspect of pet health. Additionally, you should be regularly checking their paw pads for inflammation or foreign objects.

Fungus Can Cause Itchiness

Fungus such as ringworm often cause discomfort and itchiness that centers around your dog’s paws. If you suspect your dog may have come in contact with such a fungus, it’s time to call your vet faster than a Golden Retriever chasing a tennis ball. (Keep in mind that ringworm is not actually a worm at all.)

Pet Care without a Pause

If you have determined that your dog is licking their paws too often to be normal, it is likely time to ring your vet.

This is where the licensed veterinarians at AskVet can help. Download the KONG Club app to reach out to the AskVet team, available 24/7. For all your pet-related questions, our team of vets, animal behaviorists, and animal nutritionists are only a click away, so your pet can get whatever they need whenever they need it.

Sources:

Long-Term Stress Levels Are Synchronized in Dogs and Their Owners | Scientific Reports

Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges | National Library of Medicine

Recent Understandings of Pet Allergies | National Library of Medicine

Mold and Health | EPA

How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth Effectively

Striped tabby cat giving a big yawn

As all cat owners are aware, it’s your cat’s world, and we just live in it. As a fantastic cat parent, you already provide good nutrition, care, and love to your cat. One important aspect of your cat’s health is brushing your cat’s teeth to keep them well and healthy.

Oral health is important as keeping your pet’s mouth healthy is crucial to overall health. Many health issues can be linked to poor oral hygiene. In fact, more than 70 percent of cats have developed periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. 

Periodontal disease causes the gums to become inflamed and infected. The gums can recede, which causes the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through infected gums and open wounds from missing teeth. This can cause mild to severe health issues. Not to mention, tooth pain is awful for anyone.

No matter if you have a kitten or an adult cat, you can start to brush your cat’s teeth at any age. It may take a little training, patience, and treats, but soon enough, your cat’s teeth will be the picture of health.

Cat Oral Health

It is critical for cats to receive oral health care as their mouth is a vital part of their everyday life. Not only do cats need their mouth to eat, drink, and communicate, but they also need their mouth to groom themselves. Playful cats also like to chase and chew on treats and other toys, and if their mouth hurts, they will not be able to participate in enjoyable and stimulating activities.

If your cat is having oral health problems, you may see some of these symptoms:

Bad breath – could be indicative of an infection.

Dull coat – if your cat’s mouth is in pain, they will not want to groom themselves.

Decreased appetite – eating is not pleasant if you have any type of tooth or mouth pain. This reduction in food intake can cause weight loss.

A change in eating habits – do you see dropped food on the floor, or maybe your cat is favoring one side of their mouth when eating? These signs could mean tooth pain and that they are avoiding that area.

If you see any or a combination of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your veterinarian right away for care and preventative recommendations to avoid any mouth problems in the future. Of course, brushing your cat’s teeth is the best preventative care there is.

Supplies

You will need to use particular supplies to brush your cat’s teeth, as human oral care products are not designed for animal use. Our toothbrushes are too hard for them, and the fluoride in human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed in large amounts and could be dangerous if ingested. Always use caution with Flouride — it is dangerous to consume excess quantities for both children and animals.

When you are first training your kitten or cat to become accustomed to teeth brushing, you can use a special finger brush. This textured brush slides over the tip of your finger and cleans your cat’s teeth and gums to help start the process of toothbrush training.

In lieu of a finger brush, you can use gauze wrapped around your finger. Use caution when you have your fingers near your cat’s mouth, as your cat may be tempted to bite down on your finger.

As your pet becomes more used to brushing, you can start to switch over to a specially designed cat toothbrush. You can also use a small baby toothbrush (the one exception to using human products), but make sure that the bristles are very soft.

If you have more than one cat, make sure each cat has their own toothbrush. Individual toothbrushes are vital to avoid spreading illness or unique mouth bacteria.  

Pet toothpaste is designed for dogs and cats and is different from human toothpaste. Pet toothpaste is designed to be more palatable for our pets in flavors that they enjoy, like chicken, peanut butter, or beef. Unlike human toothpaste that contains fluoride, it is okay if your cat swallows their toothpaste.

Toothbrush Training

It is not likely that your cat is going to accept teeth brushing right away. You’ll need to train your cat to cooperate when you are brushing their teeth, and making it a positive experience is the best way to do this.

A negative experience is more likely to end with hissing, scratches, and other undesirable behavior. The key to brushing your cat’s teeth is to keep things positive. Your cat should associate this act with treats and love from you. 

The younger your cat is, the easier it may be for them to get used to having their teeth brushed regularly. Older cats do take longer to become used to teeth brushing, but with plenty of patience, love, and consistency, you can make lengths in incorporating regular teeth brushing in your cat’s routine.

While the training process may vary in time depending on your cat’s age, expect around four weeks of time dedicated to getting your cat used to having their teeth brushed. Give each step time, and don’t try to rush two steps in a day. Keep it slow and positive.

How To Toothbrush Train

Let’s take a look at the training process: 

Step One

First, you’ll want to persuade your cat with tooth brushing by showing how tasty their toothpaste is. Put some of the toothpaste on your finger, and allow your cat to lick it off. 

Once they lick it off, you may want to offer a treat to show that this is something you want them to keep doing. You can try different types of cat toothpaste to see if they have a particular favorite.

Step Two

Once your cat has a taste for their toothpaste, you can gently start to massage the toothpaste onto their gums and teeth. Offer lots of treats during this phase, and slowly increase the time you rub their gums and teeth with the toothpaste.

Step Three

Now that your cat is used to having their gums and teeth rubbed with toothpaste, you can introduce the finger brush or gauze around your finger. Apply the toothpaste to this material and then massage their gums and teeth.

Again, offer lots of treats and loving words during this phase. Take it slow and gradually increase the amount of time you brush every day. 

Step Four

Now here comes the big test, adding in the actual toothbrush. Just let your cat lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush at first while still using the finger brush or gauze. A positive introduction to the toothbrush is critical. Spread this out over a couple of days. ”                         +6bvc

After using the finger brush and gauze, gently insert the toothbrush into your cat’s mouth for a short time. Again, gradually decreasing the finger brush/gauze and increasing the amount of time with the toothbrush. Again, lots of praise and treats for your cat.

Step Five

Celebrate! Now that your cat is used to having their teeth brushed, gradually increase the number of times you brush their teeth in a week. Consistency is key, and if you can only get your cat to comply with a few brushings per week, this is a win for everyone.

Additional Resources

We know that if our cat does not like something, they will not have it! Sometimes our cats don’t like having their teeth brushed every day or multiple times a week. Any amount of brushing is better than no brushing at all, but there are also some additional products you can use to try to increase your cat’s oral health.

Certain food brands are designed to increase oral health in cats. There are also special additives that can be added to water to decrease the amount of plaque present on teeth. Feline dental treats are made to be abrasive enough to the surface of your cat’s teeth to remove plaque and freshen breath. Your vet will be able to better advise you on what you can incorporate to your feline’s lifestyle to protect their dental health.

When looking for food, treats, or additives to include in your cat’s oral health regimen, refer to the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to ensure that the products you are using have been recognized to reduce periodontal disease in pets. 

The Bottom Line

Training your cat to become accustomed to having their teeth brushed is one of the most beneficial things you can do for their health. Stinky breath is improved, and overall health can be increased when oral care is performed regularly. Although it may take longer to train an adult cat, the end result is that your cat will be healthier by having regular teeth cleanings.

Our knowledgeable and friendly veterinarians at AskVets can answer any questions you may have about teeth brushing and oral care for your feline friend. Our passion is ensuring your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, and we are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist with any concerns you may have.

 

Source:

Protect Your Pet’s Teeth: Top Tips from a Veterinary Dentist | UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Dental Care | Animal Health Topics | School of Veterinary Medicine

About Veterinary Oral Health Council | VOHC 

Toothpaste overdose Information | Mount Sinai – New York

Best Dog Paw Cleaners of 2022

dog in the aftermath of fun in the mud

We all know the struggle of seeing dirty paw prints across the floor. Although these prints may lead a cute path directly to your pet’s favorite snuggle spot, you are not exactly pleased with having to clean up this trek for what seems like the hundredth time today. When your dog tends to trek dirt or sand into the house, or if it is a rainy day, having a paw cleaner can save you from having to get the mop out once again. 

Imagine if you went barefoot every time you went outside. Do you dare to think of how dirty your feet would be or what you could have picked up? Remnants of car exhaust, waste from other animals, trash, and lawn maintenance chemicals could be mixed into the ground that we walk on. Not to mention just the dirt itself, which may contain bacteria and other germs lurking about. 

This is the daily life for your dog, as they walk and play with bare paws and then come into the house and walk on the floors. Then you walk on the floors, you may have children who crawl on these floors, and you can easily see how far germs and dirt can travel.

Keeping your dog’s paws clean helps you keep your dog and floors clean. 

Health Risks Associated with Dirty Paws

It is also beneficial to your dogs as they may pick up outside substances that can hurt their paws as they go on walks or play. If you live in a snowy area, road salt can irritate your dog’s pads. If your pup is a paw-licker, ingesting road salt may prove fatal. At the very least, it could cause vomiting and diarrhea. 

In the spring, lawn maintenance is on full time as neighbors prepare their lawns for flowers, grass, and additional landscaping. If your pet licks their paws and then ingests these chemicals, they are at risk for serious health concerns. 

If your dog has allergies, it is crucial to keep their paws clean so that you can reduce any irritants that they may be allergic to. This dirt and dampness can get into the little crevices of their paws and can be uncomfortable. You may notice an unpleasant smell and a possible infection as well.

Keeping your pet’s paws clean also allows you to inspect their paws for any irritation or cuts they may have received while outside. If your dog does have any cuts on their paws, be sure to touch base with your veterinarian for any tips on assisting the healing process. 

How Do You Clean Your Dog’s Paws?

It can become cumbersome to wash your dog’s paws with a bowl of soapy water or a towel every time they come into the house. Luckily, there are various solutions to the dirty paws problem.

Let’s take a look at different types of dog paw cleaners that will help keep your pet’s feet (and your floor) sparkling.

Pet Wipes

Pet wipes are fantastic for spot cleaning — especially if your dog was on a dry road or in the yard when it has not been raining. The paws don’t need a full rinse off, but perhaps they still need a little something to clean off their paws. Wipes are the perfect product for this type of scenario. 

Baby wipes may have fragrances or other substances made for cleaning human skin that may be irritating to your dog’s skin and paw pads. Baby wipes are also not made for ingesting. If your dog is a paw-licker, they may ingest some of the fragrances or chemicals that are not intended for ingestion. 

Although dog wipes may closely resemble baby wipes, be sure to use wipes specially formulated for your dog. Dog wipes are often thicker and larger to cover more area. These wipes are able to be used on your dog’s body as well as their paws. As you are well aware, if there’s dirt on your dog’s paws, it is likely to be on their body as well.

Wipes specially designed for your dog’s paws are also specially formulated with deodorizers and enzymes that can help neutralize any odorous remnants that may be on your dog’s paws. For those of us who snuggle with our pets on our couches or beds, this is a necessary essential. 

For pet parents who have concerns about the environmental implications of disposable wipes, there are options for you. Look for dog wipes made from recyclable and sustainable materials. This can certainly help you feel better about keeping Fido’s paws squeaky clean. 

Dog Paw Washers

Dog paw washers are great to have when washing your dog’s paws is a daily chore. These washers resemble a cup, are made from durable plastics, and have soft bristles on the inside. You can put a splash of warm water and a tiny drop of soap in the paw washer. Then, you insert your dog’s paw and use the bristles to clean the paw.

Depending on how dirty your dog’s paws are, you may need to empty and refill the paw washer so they can have fresh, clean water to get those paws sparkly clean.

When you are looking for a paw washer, look for one that can be easily taken apart and cleaned. If the paw washer is a chore to clean, you’ll be less likely to want to use it. Washers with heavy-duty lids also keep extra water from splashing around and giving you a bath too. 

Portability is a great option to have when looking for a dog paw washer. This allows you to keep one at home and one in your car. You can wash your dog’s paws off after a trip to the dog park to keep your car clean.

Skin Inflammation and Bacteria

Dog paw washers come in a variety of sizes, which is perfect as we know that dogs also come in a multitude of sizes. Remember to dry your pup’s paws thoroughly after washing them.

Although clean, wet paw prints on the floor are better than dirty ones, you want to make sure their paws are nice and dry so that the spaces in between their toes do not stay damp for too long. This can cause irritation to that area of the paw. In general, the skin of the paw is often prone to inflammation known as canine pododermatitis

You can also prevent any contaminants that may come from the other dogs at the park from entering your home through your dog’s paws. This is particularly important if you have children in the home. Parasites have the potential to thrive in the dog park, and you wouldn’t want anything like that to travel to your home via your dog’s paws. 

If you do travel with a paw washer in your car, keeping a few water bottles and a microfiber towel can help make washing your dog’s paws an easy job. Remember, it is vital to keep those paws nice and dry after you wash them.

Kiddie Pools

Suppose your dog seems like a tennis ball with their ‘“in and out” routine. Then, having a kiddie pool by the door is an easy way to keep your dog’s paws clean when they want to come inside for the umpteenth time. This prevents you from having to keep refilling portable paw washers or using up your stash of pet wipes in one day. 

Keeping a dry towel close by allows you to quickly dry off your dog’s paws as they exit the pool to come inside. If your pup enjoys water, the pool may also end up being a place for them to cool off on those dog days of summer.

Waterless Paw Cleaners

If convenience is what you are looking for, waterless paw cleaners will have your dog’s paws clean in no time. Waterless paw cleaners have a brush attached to a bottle of cleaner. The brush can be easily loaded with the cleaner and then applied directly to your dog’s paws: no rinsing required. 

The best thing about these types of cleaners is that you won’t have to worry about emptying and refilling a paw washer or looking for a trash can to throw away any dog wipes. Waterless paw cleaners are perfect for tossing in a bag when you are on the go and need a quick way to clean your dog’s paws. 

Pause To Clean Paws

Your dog’s paws touch your heart… and your floor. Keeping them clean is not only important for the visual cleanliness of your home but also as a preventative health measure. Especially in the days of pandemic worries, cleanliness has become a running forethought for many. 

Taking your dog for walks and playing outside is the best part of your furry friend’s day, and probably yours too! As your dog wanders and sniffs through the parks, grass, dirt, and sidewalks of their daily walk, you can ensure that the end of their walk is met with clean paws.

If you do happen to see that your pet’s paws are irritated, you can contact one of our AskVet veterinarians for their expert opinion. They are available all day, every day, for your pet’s needs. No appointment is required.

Getting your dog back on all paws and ready to keep exploring the world is our top priority. 

 

Sources: 

Ice Melts are Health Hazards | ASPCA Pro Org

Dog parks offer fun, but veterinarian says a few precautions can make visits even better | Kansas State University 

Canine pododermatitis | NCBI

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth: A Step-By-Step Guide

KONG Core Strength

As a pet parent, you love your dog as a member of the family. You love to play with them, take them on walks, and cuddle with them. As you cuddle with your dog, though, their breath may knock you right out! Brushing your dog’s teeth is a surefire way to prevent bad breath from making cuddle moments unpleasant. This habit is also a key preventative measure for any oral health issues as they grow older. 

Continue reading as we discuss how to maintain your dog’s teeth and when to reach out to a vet for more guidance. 

Oral Health in Dogs

One of the most overlooked parts of canine care is their oral health. Unfortunately, overlooking oral health throughout your dog’s life can cause dental and health issues later down the road. You keep your dog’s coat gleaming, their nails nice and short, and their ears squeaky clean. Keeping their teeth shiny and clean is just another aspect of their grooming regime. 

Just like people, your dog’s teeth can form plaque as a result of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. This plaque and bacteria can cause your dog’s breath to smell rather unpleasant.

If this plaque is not removed regularly by brushing, it can harden into calculus. Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a veterinarian. In these cases, dogs are often put under anesthesia.

These cleanings can be costly, and your dog will certainly not enjoy them. Plaque can also cause the gums to become inflamed. This inflammation, called gingivitis, is reversible with proper dental hygiene.

Periodontal Diseases in Canines

As our dogs grow older, their risk of periodontal diseases increases. In fact, up to 80% of dogs will have some varying degree of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums, which can cause the gums to recede. This receding can cause teeth to become loose and require removal.

Diseased gums also invite dental infections. This can create extra work for your dog’s immune system as they can become an easy pathway for germs to enter your dog’s bloodstream. They could quickly become sick. Your veterinarian can also give you additional information on how proper oral hygiene can help prevent further health issues.

Tooth Pain

Tooth pain is not a fun time for our furry friends. Since they cannot speak and tell us what is wrong, they may show that they are in pain by pawing at their mouth, eating less or using one side of their mouth to chew, and excessive drooling.

When your dog is experiencing dental-related pain, they may also be agitated and display aggressive behaviors like nipping or growling if you stroke their head or mouth area.

They also may not enjoy treats as much as they used to. As a parent of a treat-loving dog, you will certainly know that something is wrong when your pet is not interested in their cookies and snacks.

Being proactive and taking care of your dog’s oral health while they are young not only makes it easier to brush their teeth but also prevents any issues that may come with periodontal disease. Evidence also supports that daily brushing is the best way to combat plaque from accumulating on your dog’s teeth. 

If tooth brushing is something that you are beginning with your older dog, you’ll want to make sure that you consult your veterinarian for an initial dental check-up. They may recommend a professional cleaning as a start to improving their dental health. This will also give you a clean slate to work with as you work to make tooth brushing a more consistent part of your dog’s grooming routine. 

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

If you have not been brushing your dog’s teeth since they were a puppy, it may take some practice, but soon your dog will be showing their pearly whites with every bark.

Your dog is not going to naturally open their mouth wide and be ready for a teeth cleaning as you would. They will likely open up for a treat or two, though.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, it’s essential to keep things calm and positive. You do not want your dog to associate getting their teeth brushed with negative feelings, as they will not want you to touch the area around their head and mouth if they find teeth cleaning unpleasant. 

Start on a Positive Note

Tooth brushing is a process that may take your dog a little while to get used to. Anytime you brush your dog’s teeth, make sure that both of you are in a calm and positive environment. In the beginning, pet around your dog’s head and mouth while offering praise and treats. 

Once your dog is used to your hands being around their mouth, you can gently put a gauze-wrapped finger under their cheek and rub along their gum line. Of course, keep rewarding your dog with lots of praise and their favorite treats.

We want this activity to be associated with positive things. When you start rubbing your dog’s teeth with the gauze, you can start with their top teeth and move from the front to back. Then move to their bottom teeth and move from the front to the back. 

Once your dog has gotten used to having their gums and teeth rubbed, you can introduce using toothpaste. 

Picking a Toothpaste Geared To Dogs

There are flavors for dogs that they will find pleasant, like chicken or peanut butter. Using specially designed dog toothpaste is crucial because they are formulated differently than human toothpaste. Dogs do not need fluoride as people do. Plus, some dog-specific toothpastes contain enzymes that help remove bacteria and plaque.

It’s safe to assume that your dog will swallow a good bit of the toothpaste, and ingesting too much fluoride can be dangerous for your dog — another reason for using specially formulated products for your dog. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOCH) seal of approval when you are looking for oral health products to ensure that they are safe for your dog. 

Using the toothpaste on your gauze-covered finger, continue to brush along your dog’s gum line with the toothpaste. Continue this method of cleaning for a few weeks until your dog gets used to the toothpaste.

After this, you can introduce using a toothbrush instead of using your gauze-covered finger. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush; a specially designed dog toothbrush will be your best choice. Continue to praise and reward your dog as you continue this process. 

The ultimate goal is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. If they will tolerate having their teeth brushed every day, it is okay! Any brushing is better than no brushing at all, but trying to fit in at least a few brush sessions a week. You can also consult your veterinarian for any tips and tricks they may have for incorporating brushing into your dog’s routine. 

Oral Health Treats and Toys

In lieu of regular brushing, some dog parents may want to give their dogs treats and toys designed to aid in oral health. Chewing is beneficial for dogs because it helps with plaque removal. Although these treats may aid temporarily in your dog’s breath, your dog will often consume them too quickly to be effective in removing plaque from their teeth. 

If you give your dog toys designed to be chewed for a long time, make sure that they are not too hard. If a toy is too hard, it may damage your dog’s teeth. If you are not able to cause a mark on the toy with your fingernail, the toy is too hard, and it should be avoided. 

Caring For Your Canine’s Canines

Keeping your dog’s oral health in mind is important as a preventative measure. Getting them used to teeth brushing is the best way to accomplish this. It’s important to have access to the best veterinarians when it comes to any questions you may have about brushing your dog’s teeth, as well as any other oral health questions you may have. 

Preventative care is a big deal to us at the KONG Club. That’s why with our KONG Club app, you can contact the vets at AskVet. We want the best for your furriest family member. So, our vets are available 24 hours, seven days a week, for any questions you may have about your dog’s teeth. No appointment is ever needed!

 

Sources:

Tooth brushing inhibits oral bacteria in dogs | NCBI

Dental Home Care Instructions | Animal Health Topics | UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Instructions For Ear Cleaning In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals

Veterinary Oral Health Council | VOHC