With our first Golden Retriever puppy being an aggressive little monkey I wondered how to clean Golden Retriever teeth without getting bitten.
Doggie Dental Data
- Puppies start growing teeth around age 4 weeks of age.
- Puppies have 28 puppy teeth.
- These start falling out between age 14 weeks to 30 weeks.
- Puppies often swallow their puppy teeth.
- Teething rarely seems to bother puppies.
- Adult dogs end up with 42 teeth.
Why Do We Need To Clean Our Dogs Adult Gnashers
Just like humans, the build-up of plaque and tartar can cause decay, missing teeth, gum disease, and other diseases. The same is true for dogs. Hopefully, we don’t feed our dogs the human foods that can create build-up or aggravate it, but the enamel is a porous substance and decay will happen unless we keep them spotless. It’s the acid in foods that attack the enamel. Acid forms from a mixture of carbohydrates and germs.
Dog food and treats have carbs, some far too much. That means cleaning your dog’s pearlies every day after he eats. Less than 1% of use clean our dog’s teeth with a brush and doggie toothpaste. So what are the alternatives?
Dogs Dental Care in The Wild
Dogs and other animals that live in the wild eat raw food. Meat, veggies, water. Unless they start eating fruits and carb-rich fibers like potatoes, dental care almost takes care of itself. Chewing meat off bones also provides a natural abrasive method to scrape food off the teeth.
Most wild animals are outlived by their teeth, so no appointments are necessary. Animals held in captivity may need some dental care during their life span. It all depends on the diet.
Dental Cleaning Products
Even though I had no intention of using these, some folks do, so they get a mention here anyway. View some of these for sale at Chewy.
- Buy a doggie toothbrush.
- Buy some doggie flavored toothpaste.
- Use a finger brush.
- Let your dog chew Nylabones.
- New style rubber tooth cleaners with stipples to get between the teeth.
- Greenies dental chews.
- Ribbed dental treats.
- Plaque off products.
These are just some choices. Be careful with the treat versions, you are adding more calories to the diet. I am not a supporter of Nylabones. Don’t get me wrong, we used them, but once I saw the nylon starting to wear I realized it was going into my puppies belly. I soon stopped. I have never supported using rawhide and the warnings are clear, your dog cannot digest them. There are several rawhide alternatives for chewing but in my house, they do not last long enough to clean teeth.
If you have chewers, like all three of my dogs are, the toy type teeth cleaning products are likely not to last long. Everything is great in theory and I understand the idea. However, dogs always have their own way of doing things. Mine would chew these up, spit them out or worse just swallow them.
Believe me, if your Golden loves to chew everything, once that piece is in his mouth and he sees you coming at him to take it away, he’s going to swallow!
How To Clean Golden Retriever Teeth With Natural Products
There are four recommendations that I do not support, they are:
- Sticks. Dogs love sticks but they can be very dangerous. If your pup loves them as much as mine do, it’s a never-ending struggle to get them to give them up and stop chewing them to pieces. Broken stick slivers can puncture stomaches or get stuck. A trip to the ER may be needed to remove sticks for your dog’s stomach.
- Bones. Dogs do not need to chew bones and cooked or uncooked they can splinter. This is another trip to the ER and an expensive bill!
- Antlers. Yes, I did buy one of these. Finlay, the first puppy we had was 1 year old and we offered it on his birthday. He sniffed it and left it. Probably just as well, as I now know, these things are hard enough to break a dog’s tooth!
- Pig Ears. These have not been proven to help in any way and can be contaminated with germs too.
There is only one thing I recommend for cleaning teeth are Bully Sticks. It’s a nice word for a bull’s penis.
Bully sticks are not cheap but then neither are dental products. My dogs get one or two bully sticks to chew each week. Bully sticks are a natural beef product that is 100% digestible by your dog. They take a while for them to chew and eat though. The bully sticks are compressed and dried penises, impossible to break them with your hands. They are even hard to cut with metal snippers in my garage.
Buy the right size bully stick for your dogs. They come in different lengths, braids, curly and circles. My favorite brand is Red Barn and I buy these in bulk from Chewy.
My pups get a large round bully stick and that will take them a good hour to gnaw their way through. Being a circle it makes then work and chew a little longer. They also get a smaller straight stick once a week, these are 7 inches long and last about 30 minutes.
They never leave any!
Here are photos of my dog’s teeth and their current age. As you can see, the teeth are pretty clean. I see a tiny little bit of plaque build-up at the very top near the gum line on all three dogs.
For me, the best way to brush Golden Retriever teeth is not to “brush” them at all. Bully sticks are my recommendation.
I am not sure of the benefit of dental chews for this breed. Big mouths, strong jaws and a passion for food mean that anything going in the mouth will last only as long as it takes to crunch it up and swallow. Most dental treats are food. Given those regular treat biscuits last seconds, I am sure these products don’t do anything at all to remove anything from the surface of the enamel.
When It’s Time For a Professional Clean
I recommend you take the advice of your vet when it comes to professional dental care for your dog. We are not replacing that, we are supporting it and hoping for less professional dental care needed through his lifetime.
For your vet to carry out any dental cleaning or treatment your dog will need to go under General Anesthesia. During a scheduled cleaning, your vet can look for any signs of decay, clean off plaque build-up and look for anomalies in the mouth.
If there are any teeth that will cause issues soon or become lose, your vet may recommend extracting them. Most dogs will not have any issue with losing a few or recovering from an extraction.