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A dog’s dental hygiene may not be at the top of the priority list when it comes to caring for your pet, but it should be. A poorly maintained mouth could lead to many health problems as your pooch ages. By regularly maintaining your dog’s dental health, you'll decrease the amount of bacteria living in the mouth. Said bacteria may enter the animal's bloodstream, causing damage to internal organs as well as their teeth and gums.

In fact, it's been estimated that over 85 percent of dogs (VIN reports) that are three years or older experience dental hygiene problems that require treatment by a professional. During routine dental checks, many veterinarians are likely to find stained teeth, bleeding or inflamed gums, and buildup of plaque and tartar.

There are many pet products aimed at helping owners maintain the overall health of a dog’s mouth, but with so many choices it may be hard to make a decision or know which one is right for your pup. One way to help keep your dog’s mouth clean and lower their risk of infection from harmful bacteria is to use a dog dental water additive.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Dog Dental Care

What's a Dog Dental Water Additive?

Basically, it's Listerine for dogs that's safe to consume. They're also have been recently endorsed by veterinarians and Veterinary Oral Health Council. Among the products VOHC supports, currently there's only one listed that's used exclusively by vets themselves, called HealthyMouth® water additive (source, PDF).

What's a Dog Dental Water AdditiveDental water additives and water rinses for dogs are a relatively new way to help keep your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.

The dental water additives come in liquid form and are administered to your dog simply through their drinking water, daily. The additives are used to help clean your dog’s mouth similar to the way humans use mouthwash.

Some additives claim that they are able to decrease bad breath, prevent calculus buildup, and kill microbes in a dog's mouth. A dog dental water additive works by using chemicals, natural and/or non-natural (depending on the brand), to break down plaque and minerals that collect in the dog’s mouth. Additionally, some chemicals in said water additives are used as an anti-bacterial and antiseptic agents.

A dog dental water additive may not only help keep your pooch's mouth clean, but it will also help keep their water clean, too. As it has been reported, pet bowls are often riddled with different bacteria, posing another layer of danger. Veterinarians at 1800petmeds.com note that by reducing the amount of bacteria in your dog’s water, you are able to keep their immune system healthy, too and not just dental hygiene.

Each brand of a dog dental water additive and dental rinse may have slightly different instructions for use; however, they are all fairly similar and simple in terms of usage.

How Do I Use a Dog Dental Water Additive?

Check with your veterinarian for proper use and advice prior to beginning any new supplements or additives to make sure they do not interfere with any preexisting condition that your pooch has or any medication they may be on.

To use dental water additives in your dog’s water, follow the instructions on the packaging. This typically involves dispensing a predetermined, measured amount of the additive into a specific amount of water in your dog’s bowl.

For example, to use Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Liquid Tartar Remover simply combine one tablespoon of the additice with 32 ounces of water:

Nylabone water dental additive for dogs

With most dog dental water additives, they should be added to your pet's drinking water daily, unless otherwise noted on the label. Your dog's bowl should be cleaned thoroughly once the water containing the additives has been consumed.

What Are the Pros of Using Dog Dental Water Additives?

As noted above, dental water additives for dogs help keep your dogs mouth, teeth, and gums healthy in between brushings and routine cleanings by breaking down plaque and tartar buildup.

Not only will adding dental water additives to your pup's water break down harmful plaque and tartar, but it will also kill harmful bacteria. By killing the said harmful bacteria that lives in a dog’s mouth it can help to freshen their breath as well as keep the bacteria out of their bloodstream.

Many users of dental water additives report that the brown stains on their dogs teeth have decreased and they have whiter teeth in addition to the removal of plaque.

Dental water additives are easy to use. Dogs do not have to be trained to sit and behave like they do when someone is brushing their teeth. Not only are they safer to use than a routine cleaning that requires the use of anesthesia – which is still the only option for the ultimate best teeth cleaning, according to vets – but this type of preventative maintenance is much cheaper for pet owners than a cleaning done in a vet's office.

What Are the Cons of Using Dog Dental Water Additives?

Like with most similar products, there are some potential cons, albeit small. For example, some chemicals found in a few brands of dental water additives for dogs are not necessarily safe for pets to consume (though the jury is still out for a definite conclusion). Here are the two main suspects:

Chlorhexidine gluconate. This one chemical is often found in some dental water additives and is known to increase in calculus formation, inflammation of the salivary glands, and inflammation of the mouth and gums (stomatitis). This chemical is also harmful if it comes in contact with your dog's eyes. It is also harmful to felines so they are not suggested for use in households with cats.

Xylitol. This is another very infamous chemical that's been found in some dental water additives for dogs. Xylitol is not only harmful to dogs, but it can be fatal. Always check the ingredients list of a specific dog dental water additive prior to purchase to ensure that the product does not contain xylitol.

Next up on the list of cons is the perception of these products. Veterinarians worry that dog dental water additives are promoted to consumers in a way that suggests that owners will no longer have to brush their dog’s teeth. This should not be the case. Even though there are benefits to using a dog dental water additive, nothing will replace the benefits of manually brushing your dog’s teeth on a routine basis and taking them to the veterinarian for routine dental checkups.

What Are the Best Dog Dental Water Additive Products?

What are the Best Dog Dental Water Additive ProductsAs I've mentioned, be careful about the brand that you choose – make sure they don't contain those few potentially harmful chemicals. For more details on their use, take a look at Samantha's review of Oxyfresh additive.

Other than being careful about said ingredients, most brands are very similar in their dog-safe ingredients and how those additives work or administered. Here are a few of our (and most other pet owners') favorite dog dental water additive brands:

Are There All-natural Dog Dental Water Additives?

No. Currently, there are no all-natural products that wouldn't contain some type of chemical. All of these products will have certain chemicals that need to be added to fight plaque, tartar and bacteria in a dog's mouth. It's understandable when pet owners would like to avoid any and all chemicals, but at the time of this writing, none of the ingredients found in these products have been said to be dangerous or harmful to dogs.

Here's the list of ingredients from the four most popular dog dental water additive brands:

Oxyfresh
Water (Aqua), Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide (Oxygene®), Zinc Acetate, Sodium Citrate, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate.

Nylabone
Water, Glycerin, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Methyl Salicylate, DiSodium EDTA, Sodium Borate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Potassium Sorbate.

Pet King
Glucose oxidase, glycerin, potassium sorbate, potassium thiocyanate, purified water, rosemary extract, sodium chloride, sorbitol, zinc chloride. Natural enzymes: dextranase, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme, mutanase.

TropiClean
Purified Water, Citric Acid, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Chlorophyllin, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Green Tea Leaf Extract.

For anybody who'd like to avoid chemicals at all costs, there is no brand of dog dental water additive that would work. Fortunately, sticking with regular brushing of teeth is still the best way to keep a good dental hygiene of your dog. You can also use a natural dog dental spray like SCD Probiotics in addition to teeth brushing.

What Else Can I Do for My Dog's Teeth?

Dental water additives for dogs aren't the only thing. There's plenty more you can do to keep your pup's dental health in top shape, actually. First and foremost, it's brushing their teeth daily, but there are a few other things that veterinarians recommend for pet owners to do. Here's a full list, including some things that can be done at a vet clinic only:

  1. Brush your dog's teeth on a regular basis.
  2. Choose rawhide chews with chlorhexidine additive, a dental disinfectant.
  3. Apply dental sealant to hinder plaque attachment to the gingival margin.
  4. Pour some dog dental water additive into your pet's water bowl.
  5. Use soluble zinc salt gel as antibacterial agents to prevent bad breath.
  6. Apply waxy polymer to decrease calculus and plaque formation.
  7. Give your dog soluble dental pet chews that will mechanically remove plaque.
  8. Or try dental dog chews that contain delmopinol, an anti-plaque agent.
  9. Use dog dental wipes with plaque control agents to prevent buildup.
  10. Pick a diet formulated for dog's dental care (hard, dry kibble with increased fiber content and texture that promotes chewing and maximizes contact with teeth).

With all of these options at hand, your dog's teeth will be in a better shape than yours.

In Summary

In conclusion, a dog dental water additive product can be very beneficial to the overall hygiene and health of a dog’s mouth when used in conjunction with regular brushing, dental cleanings, and dental exams at the vet's office.

Dental water additives for dogs may decrease plaque and tartar buildup as well as kill odor causing bacteria in your dog’s mouth without any additional work for the pet owner – simply add them to your pet's daily drinking water.

Remember that some dental rinses and/or water additives may contain harmful ingredients unsafe for dogs, such as xylitol and Chlorhexidine gluconate, so check the ingredients list before buying and follow the package instructions. Dental water additives should never be used to replace the other types of routine dental hygiene maintenance.

READ NEXT: 7 Foods and Chews for Dog’s Dental Health (Backed by Science)

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