How Safe Is Dog Tartar Additives in Water?

by Elle Di Jensen
    "I think Mom forgot to put the tartar additives in here."

    "I think Mom forgot to put the tartar additives in here."

    Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    If the toothbrushing routine with your dog usually ends with you covered in fur and dog toothpaste and a generous streak of it smeared all over Rudy's head, you'd probably welcome an alternative. The time and difficulty involved can discourage you from brushing your dog's teeth regularly. Those bottles of tartar-eliminating additives on the pet supply shop shelves are tempting, but you want to ensure they're safe for Rudy to drink.

    Essentially Harmless

    There are different types of dental water additives for dogs. Most boast better dental health as well as fresher breath. Some of them are simply fresheners that mask halitosis. Others claim to contain enzymatic ingredients that are supposed to break down tartar and plaque. Whatever the type, essentially most water additives for dogs are harmless.

    Beware One Risky Ingredient

    Read the label before supplementing Rudy's water to help with his dental health. The assorted dog tartar water additives available vary slightly in their formulations. Some contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that, even in small amounts, can cause seizures, blood clotting issues and a drop in blood pressure. Although the article for Pet MD "Fresh Breath in a Bottle: Does it Work? Is it Worth It?" concedes that the xylitol levels in water additives for dogs is far below toxic, the author, veterinarian Patty Khuly, still mentions it because of the ingredient's hazardous effects on canine health.

    Additives Don't Replace Brushing

    If your motive for giving Rudy an oral supplement in his water dish is to bypass the toothbrushing brawl, then don't bother. While dental additives for water can help support oral health, they shouldn't replace brushing. Talk to your vet about water supplements if you want to use them, and get her advice on how to use them. It's always best to consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your dog.

    An Effective Dental Routine

    A dental routine that works effectively includes more than just the step of dumping a tartar-reducing additive into Rudy's water dish. Web MD recommends feeding your dog dry kibble rather than canned food because dry is more abrasive and will help scrape his teeth clean as he eats. Avoid animal bones, but do provide chew toys and treats such as rawhide, rope toys and balls made from high-impact rubber. Brush Rudy's teeth daily with a soft toothbrush or just clean his teeth with a washcloth or swatch of gauze folded over the end of your finger. Your vet will examine your dog's teeth during his annual wellness checkups to determine if cleaning and scaling are necessary. However, if you follow an effective oral-care plan that includes brushing alongside water supplements and appropriate food, it may reduce how frequently Rudy needs his teeth cleaned.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

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