Tartar in dogs is an extremely common problem. It is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth, which hardens and turns to tartar. Although common, it is not desirable; too much tartar leads to bad breath, gum disease, loss of teeth and a lot of pain and discomfort. There are ways to deal with the tartar without getting bitten or subjecting yourself and your dog to a daily tooth brushing ritual, although brushing your dog’s teeth should be done on a regular basis. One of the best ways to help keep tartar buildup to a minimum is to let your dog do what it does best - chew! Chewing things is not only therapeutic for your dog, but also helps remove plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth.

You should choose chewing objects that are safe, healthy and all natural:

  1. Rawhides. Rawhides are the most common way to keep tartar down in dogs and they fit nicely in a stocking! Make sure to pick up rawhide that is made with all natural ingredients (no preservatives, chemicals or dyes) and that is the right size for your dog. While picking up a massive rawhide is tempting because you won’t have to replace it for a long time, your small dog will grow frustrated by not being able to get his little mouth around it and may go back to chewing on the furniture or other unacceptable items. Also be sure to supervise your dog while he is chewing to be sure that the rawhide isn’t splintering or falling apart in such a way that the mouth can be injured.

  2. Deer Antlers. Believe it or not, deer antlers work really well to get rid of tartar. Make sure to get antlers that have been shed by deer naturally, instead of ones that have been butchered, for the best quality. Dogs enjoy antlers because they have a nubby texture, and people love antlers because they are clean, have no odor and don’t cause problems for a dog’s digestive tract. Inside each antler is bone marrow, which does wonders for removing tartar. They also last for a long time without splintering. As your dog chews the deer antler, he is grinding down the bone, not breaking it (which causes splintering). Plus there’s nothing more festive for your dog than antlers!

  3. Raw Bones. RAW is the key here, not cooked. Cooked bones will splinter easily and can really cut up your dog’s mouth and throat. Raw bones are more pliable and therefore won’t splinter as easily, though they don’t last as long either. Raw poultry bones such as the neck bone from your turkey for large dogs or chicken for small dogs, are considered to be the best choice. However, make sure that the poultry you’re getting it from is as farm fresh as possible just to get rid of preservatives. However, a dog’s digestive system is robust and can by and large handle bacteria better than we. Raw bones make a great Christmas feast for your dog and you don’t have to throw away the bone-just be sure to clean up after yourself!

Getting appropriate chewing things for your dogs is not just a great holiday gift, but it is a necessary treat for the health of your dog’s teeth year round, which in turn will benefit his overall health. Chewing is a part of most dogs’ psychology, so this is an excellent way to help your dog help himself!