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    Dog Toys and Treats to Avoid

    Sold right beside tooth-friendly toys and treats, you'll find a host of goodies that are not so good for your dog’s teeth. Veterinary dentists recommend:

    Avoid hard chews, such as hooves, nylon bones, and hard rawhide. Hard treats available in most pet supply stores can break or fracture teeth. This may lead to bloody, pus-filled abscesses – and expensive vet bills. If you bang it on a tabletop and it sounds like a rock, that's too hard for a dog, says Woodward.

    Avoid animal bones of any kind. For the same reasons you should avoid hard chews -- fractured, broken, abscessed teeth -- you'll want to steer clear of all the animal bones you'll find at pet stores or butcher shops. Not only are bones too hard -- raw or cooked -- but they can also splinter, tearing into your dog's tender gums.

    Don't wild dogs eat bones? Yes, but studies have shown these wild dogs also have a lot of broken teeth, says Hoffman.

    Avoid fuzzy tennis balls. You know the scratchy side of your kitchen sponge, the one you use to scrub grunge from pots and pans? Well the fuzz on your dog’s favorite tennis ball is doing the same scrubbing, wearing down your dog’s teeth over time. Fuzzy tennis balls are also great at trapping sand and dirt, which makes them even more abrasive. If your canine pal loves to fetch or carry balls, look into buying smooth rubber ones.

    Good Oral Health for Your Dog: It's Up to You

    Your dog has probably taught you a lot: How to take joy in the little things, and how to play no matter how old you are. You can thank your dog for this joie de vivre by taking care of the things your pooch can't manage alone, and that includes dental care.

    "What a pet owner needs to realize is, if you're not going to look after oral health now, you're going to be looking at costly procedures down the road," says Colleen O'Morrow, BA, DVM, a veterinary dentist in Manitoba, Canada, and fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. "And in the mean time you've caused a terrible health burden on your pet, and perhaps caused your pet pain and a reduced quality of life."

    While dental diets, rinses, and chew toys won't take care of everything on their own, they can play a vital part in your pet's overall oral care. "With dental disease there's multiple things that help a little bit," Woodward tells WebMD. "Add all those little things together and pretty soon you have a significant impact."

    How to Brush a Dog's Teeth

    See techniques and tips for brushing your dog's teeth – the easy way.
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