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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 number 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 on 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 the 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 are in liquid form and are administered to your dog simply through their drinking water, daily. Pet owners use additives to help clean their 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 antibacterial 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 number 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 the proper use and advice prior to beginning any new supplements or additives. This makes sure they do not interfere with any preexisting condition 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 additive 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 dog's mouth, teeth, and gums healthy in between brushings and routine cleanings by breaking down plaque and tartar buildup.

Treat and Prevent Oral Bacteria

Adding dental water additives to your pup's water breaks down harmful plaque and tartar. It will also kill harmful bacteria. By killing the said harmful bacteria that live in a dog’s mouth, it can help to freshen their breath and keep the bacteria out of their bloodstream.

Many users of dental water additives report that the brown stains on their dog's teeth have decreased. They have whiter teeth in addition to the removal of plaque.

Easy to Use

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.

Next up on the list of cons is the perception of these products.

What Are the Cons of Using Dog Dental Water Additives?

Like with most similar products, there are some potential cons, albeit small.

Unsafe Chemical Ingredients

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. It is known to increase 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.

Misperception of Using a Dog Water Additive

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.

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 are administered. Here are a few of our (and most other pet owners') favorite dog dental water additive brands:

Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Care Solution:
– Vet-Recommended Dental Water Additive for Dog

Oxyfresh Premium dog water additive

With just a capful of this dog water additive, you can guarantee your dog's healthy teeth and gums. Its quality and safety for your pooch even make it highly recommended among veterinarians across the country.

It's odorless and completely safe with dogs, cats, and birds! It doesn't even have any flavor so it easily blends into your dog's drinking water. 

The only downside of this dental water additive for dogs is that it may not result in the freshness that most pet owners expect. 

Despite promoting fresh breath, most dog owners gave lesser ratings in terms of freshness. It makes future customers wonder about its credibility in eliminating bad breath at once.

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Water Additives
– Highly Effective Dog Water Additive

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Water Additives for DogsThis water additive for dogs is created with Denta-C formula which is proven to lessen plaque and bacteria. It's also a proud product of the United States.

You will only need a tablespoon of this solution and mix it into your pet's water. You can even use it daily, especially if you have a hard time brushing your dog's teeth.

Unlike other brands, this dog water additive comes in three flavors: original, green tea, and peppermint. With this, pet owners love how effective this dental water additive is in making their pet's breath fresh! 

On the other hand, some dog owners believe this product may be beyond their budget. Still, there are coupons available whenever you want the best water additive for dogs.

Zymox Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Oral Care Water Additive
– Trusted Water Additive for Dogs

Zymox Oratene dog dental water additiveThe Oratene water additive is easy to use since you only need to add 2 pumps to your pet's drinking water. It's safe for both dogs and cats.

It has no flavor, so adding this water additive for dogs shouldn't be a problem for sensitive pooches.  

This product improves teeth and gum health as well as reduces bad breath. Aside from this, it also helps with dry mouth as seen in their cracked lips and tongue. 

Holistic oral care has never been this easy and achievable with this dental water additive for dogs.

TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care
– Best Water Additive for Dogs

TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care Water Additive for DogsThis dental water additive for dogs has a unique formula that eliminates plaque, tartar, and bad breath in your pooch in less than two weeks with daily use. And you only need half a cap every time you put this into your dog's water.

It is known to be the best water additive for dogs because it has adhered to the high-quality standards regulated. 

This dog water additive also has variations with added nutrients that facilitate hip, joint, coat, and skin support. You can even opt for a version of this solution with advanced teeth whitening ingredients.

It's safe for dogs of all ages. Both dogs and pet owners seem to love this solution!

Are There All-Natural Dog Dental Water Additives?

No. Currently, there are no all-natural products that wouldn't contain some type of chemical. These products will have certain chemicals that need to be added to fight plaque, tartar, and bacteria in a dog's mouth. You may understand those pet owners would like to avoid any and all chemicals. However, 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 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 additives 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 better shape than yours.

Do Dog Water Additives Work?

Dental water additive for dogs does work but it may not be enough. These solutions improve your dog’s oral health, but they shouldn’t entirely substitute for brushing their teeth.

When used properly along with other dog dental care practices, your pooch will enjoy good oral health without you ever worrying about tartar buildup, bad breath, or other gum diseases.

Are Dental Water Additives Safe for Dogs?

Most dog dental water additives have been screened and regulated so this makes them safe to use. If you’re still hesitant, you can consult with your vet on which reliable water additive for dogs to use.

Keep in mind that not all dog water additive has the same dosage. Putting higher amounts may harm your dog’s health in the long run.

Dog Dental Water Additive: 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. They also 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.

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Guide on Dog Dental Water Additive - Here's What It Is and How to Use It

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