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Healthy Smiles, Happy Lives: The Dangers of Dental Neglect in Pets and Some Home Care Strategies

Updated: Jun 28

Diet, exercise, and regular vet visits are essential for your pet’s health, but did you know dental care is just as important? Keeping your pet’s teeth clean isn’t only about fresh breath; it’s a key part of their overall well-being. Simple at-home dental care can prevent issues like infections, tooth loss, and even problems with vital organs. By making dental care a routine, you’re not just protecting their smile — you’re helping them live a happier, healthier life.

The Hidden Dangers of Dental Disease

Neglecting your pet’s dental health can lead to a range of serious issues:

  • Bad Breath (Halitosis): Persistent bad breath can be the first sign of dental problems, indicating the presence of bacteria in your pet’s mouth.

  • Plaque and Tartar Build-Up: Without regular cleaning, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a vet and can lead to more severe dental issues.

  • Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease: Inflammation of the gums can progress to periodontal disease, causing pain, tooth loss, and impacting your pet's overall health.

  • Systemic Health Issues: Bacteria from dental infections can enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to heart, liver, and kidney problems.

Home Care Strategies for Pet Dental Health

Proactive home care can significantly improve your pet’s dental health. Here are some effective strategies that are easy to incorporate into your routine for caring for your pet at home.

Regular Brushing:

Just like people, pets benefit from regular tooth brushing. It’s crucial to use pet-specific toothpaste, as human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be toxic to animals. Pair it with a pet-specific toothbrush to ensure their teeth are cleaned safely and effectively!

For a natural option, we recommend Shy Tiger’s natural toothpaste. Vet-formulated and made in Melbourne, it’s packed with beneficial plant extracts and gentle abrasives to help maintain a healthy mouth. While daily brushing is the gold standard, aiming for 2-3 times a week is a great place to start. Every application helps in keeping your pet’s teeth clean and their mouth healthy.

Specially formulated Dental Chews:

Incorporating dental chews into your pet’s routine can help reduce plaque and tartar, but choosing a high-quality product with effective chemical actives is crucial. Bell & Bone dental sticks are an excellent choice, offering both mechanical action to scrub teeth and chemical action to fight plaque. Here's why we love them:

  • High Meat Content: Dogs love the taste, making it easier to incorporate into their routine!

  • Gluten and Grain-Free: Ideal for pets with sensitivities or allergies.

  • Natural Superfoods: Ingredients like mint and turmeric not only freshen breath but also offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

  • Chemical Actives: Sodium tripolyphosphate helps prevent tartar buildup by binding to calcium, while zinc sulphate promotes healthy teeth and gums by reducing plaque and supporting tissue repair.

  • Made in Australia: Supporting local products ensures high quality and adherence to stringent standards.

Dental Seaweed:

Ascophyllum nodosum, a type of seaweed, is an excellent addition to your pet’s daily diet to support regular tooth brushing and the use of dental sticks. Rich in essential nutrients and minerals, this natural ingredient has been clinically proven to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. When incorporated into your pet’s food, Ascophyllum nodosum works systemically, meaning it helps prevent dental issues from the inside out. Its natural antibacterial properties reduce the formation of plaque and tartar, making your pet’s teeth cleaner and their breath fresher. This makes it a perfect complement to physical cleaning methods like brushing and chewing dental sticks.

Ascophyllum nodosum is not only effective but also safe for daily use! It’s a natural, non-toxic way to boost your pet’s oral hygiene routine. By adding it to your pet’s food, you are providing an additional layer of dental care that works continuously throughout the day. This continuous action helps to maintain the effectiveness of regular tooth brushing and chewing dental sticks, ensuring a comprehensive approach to your pet’s dental health. In

addition, it’s easy to use – just sprinkle it on their food, and let this powerful seaweed do the rest.

Simply Seaweed provides high-quality certified organic Ascophyllum nodosum to the Australian vet and pet industry. Simply Seaweed is used as a dental care dietary supplement for dogs and cats, and their mission is to improve the dental hygiene of pet dogs and cats by providing an affordable, easily accessible and easy to use product to the community!

Shy Tiger’s Soothe + Calm Natural Oral Supplement not only helps prevent plaque but may also assist with inflammation of the gums associated with gingivitis. Shy Tiger’s Soothe + Dental Natural Oral Supplement has a unique formulation that truly stands out by leveraging the combined effects of three organic ingredients; Ascophyllum nodosum, Calendula, and Aloe Vera. This triple-action formula aims at reducing plaque formation, soothing inflamed gums, and providing an antimicrobial action against the pathogens responsible for periodontal disease.

What About Bones?


  • Natural Cleaning Action: Chewing on bones can help scrape away plaque and tartar, promoting cleaner teeth and healthier gums. The mechanical action of gnawing on a bone can mimic the effects of brushing, providing a natural way to maintain dental hygiene.

  • Enrichment and Mental Stimulation: Chewing bones provides mental stimulation and enrichment for dogs, which can help alleviate boredom and reduce stress.

  • Nutritional Benefits: Bones contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are beneficial for your dog’s overall health.


  • Risk of Tooth Fractures: Hard bones can lead to tooth fractures, especially in aggressive chewers. Broken teeth can cause significant pain and require veterinary intervention.

  • Gastrointestinal Blockages: Bone fragments can cause blockages or perforations in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to severe health issues that may require surgery.

  • Choking Hazard: Small bone pieces can pose a choking hazard, particularly for smaller dogs or those who tend to gulp their food.

  • Risk of Contamination: Raw bones can harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli, posing health risks to both pets and their owners.

The science?

Recent studies highlight the dual nature of bones in canine dental health. For instance, a 2020 study published in the "Journal of Veterinary Dentistry" found that while bones can reduce plaque, the risk of dental fractures and gastrointestinal issues is significant. Another study in "Veterinary Record" in 2022 emphasised the importance of choosing the appropriate type of bone to minimise health risks.

Safer Alternatives: Freeze-Dried and Air-Dried Chews

Freeze-dried and air-dried bones offer a safer alternative to raw bones. These bones undergo a process that removes moisture while preserving nutrients, making them less likely to splinter or break into sharp pieces. Additionally, the drying process reduces the risk of bacterial contamination, making them safer for both pets and owners. Freeze-dried and air-dried bones retain the benefits of natural chewing without the associated risks of raw.

When selecting the right bone for your dog or cat, it’s crucial to consider the size and chewing ability of your pet to ensure safety. For both dogs and cats, choose bones that are wider than their mouth to reduce the risk of choking. Avoid weight-bearing bones such as femurs, as they are too hard and can damage teeth. Instead, opt for softer bones with more cartilage, like neck and spine bones, which are gentler on teeth and provide a safer chewing experience. For smaller pets and cats, chicken necks and wings are ideal!

By choosing these safer alternatives, you can still provide your dog with the dental health benefits of bone chewing while minimising the potential for harm. Always supervise your dog while they enjoy these treats to ensure they chew safely and effectively.

It's important to understand the risks involved when adding any type of bone to a pet's diet. Accepting this risk requires increased caution - monitoring pets while they consume bones and chews is crucial for their safety.

Routine Vet Check-Ups - The Importance of Professional Care

While home care is essential, professional veterinary dental care is irreplaceable. Vets can provide comprehensive cleanings and check for signs of dental disease that might be missed at home. Regular dental check-ups with your vet can catch issues early and ensure your pet's teeth remain in top condition. The combination of professional care with consistent at-home strategies offers the best protection for your pet’s oral health.

All in all...

Healthy teeth make for a happy pet. By staying vigilant about their dental health and integrating consistent, effective home care practices, you can help your pet enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles.

At Number 1 Australia, we’re proud to offer natural products that are backed by science to support your efforts.

For more information on our products mentioned in this blog, contact your local vet clinic or visit our website. Keep in mind that Number 1 (Australia) is a wholesale distributor and cannot supply directly to consumers.

Here’s to healthy pets and bright smiles!

Number 1 Australia Your trusted partner in pet health and happiness

Proud distributors of

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