make Vet Answers my homepage

Pet dental health AND behaviour enrichment toys - 2 benefits for the price of one!

Posted in Festival of All Things Dental @ Aug 13th 2015 - By Gillian Shippen, Nurse Manager, Director Pets Need A Life Too
Cat Playing With Catnip Toy

It’s pet dental health month – now you may be asking how behaviour enrichment has anything to do with good dental hygiene?

Well, did you know that there is at least two companies that now provide behaviour enrichment toys that incorporate dental chews in their range?

KONG has come up with the Marathon Range that has a replaceable dental chew insert to make their food dispensing toy last that little bit longer.  The Marathon chew treat locks firmly into the toy, creating a long-lasting challenge which is great for boredom, stress or a rewarding chew session. The treat has a mouth-watering bacon flavour and is made in the USA. KONG Marathon is available in two shapes and sizes, a Ball and the Bone, with treat refills sold separately.


But it is also worthwhile mentioning that some of the other products within the Kong range also help promote dental health by encouraging chewing and therefore massaging gums and cleaning teeth.

The Quest Range is a gorgeous range that can be used with both moist and dry foods – with two types in the Quest Range - Critters and Shapes.  KONG® Quest Critters are a triple threat: adorable, stimulating and fun. These toys are designed to be stuffed with treats to simulate natural foraging behaviours and extend treat time. As an added benefit, the Quest range clean teeth and massage gums while dogs chew. Quest Critters are available in four characters and two sizes (small & large), Owl, Bear, Frog, Cow and there is three Shapes also with two sizes; the Starpod, Bone and Wishbone each with unique treat pockets for a varied foraging experience. All characters in the Quest range come in several different colours.

The Starpod has proven to be an instant favourite amongst my clientele.

The photo on the right was sent to me by a happy customer showing how they have had good use from their Queast Starpod. They have placed Yoghurt and other yummy treats in the chambers and the frozen it – the dog loved it (and so did the client as it provided excellent stimulation for the dog)

Another company that has toys that are also great for dental hygiene is Starmark.

Starmark Mental Stimulation toys help keep pets mentally engaged in an activity they enjoy. They help foster natural hunting and foraging behaviours, and help prevent destructive boredom behaviours. A selection of their toys can be used with Starmark Treats, or with portions from your dog's regular meal to turn mealtime into playtime. They have the Everlasting Treat Ball, Bento Ball, Fire Plug and Treat dispensing ball that hold their Everlasting Treats which will be a good addition to a dogs dental hygiene tool box.

The Everlasting Fire Plug  The Everlasting Treat Ball  The Everlasting Bento Ball

The Everlasting Bento Ball has special ridges on to assist with massaging the gums whilst in use and coupled with the treats, makes a great dental option. All are made with virtually indestructible material that is stronger than rubber whilst being free of latex, vinyl and phthalates! They are great for powerful chewers, providing hours of challenging play – the Treat ball system encourages play which helps reduce anxiety and boredom behaviours. Additional features include the fact they are available in Small, Medium, & Large dog sizes and are also dishwasher safe.

The Interlocking Treats are the first to lock in place on a toy for a fun chewing challenge. The Everlasting Treats are long lasting dental chews that are hard like a bone to help keep your dog's teeth clean. Pair them with the Starmark toys for challenging chewing fun. The treats can act as a cap on the dispensing toys or they can be consumed as a treat on their own.

(My Busta utilising the Every Lasting Fire Plug on the right)

Currently in Australia the only treats available are the Wheat Free Chicken flavoured Everlasting treats as they are currently under review by AQIS to ensure no irradiation is used. Bringing the treats into Australia strictly under permit ensures that all nutritional values are intact and the product is safe for pets. This has created a long delay of the Everlasting treats & corresponding toys that feature these snacks however every effort is being taken to bring this renowned Boredom Buster range back to Australian pets as soon as possible

Another overlooked range of dental toys is from PetStages and the great thing here is they cater for cats as well.

Toys that promote chewing also promote dental hygiene; chewing is a natural behavior in dogs of all ages. Chewing helps reduce stress in dogs and can also control barking, digging or other destructive behaviour. The key to embracing a dog’s natural need to chew is to offer appropriate chew objects to help satisfy and relieve chewing urges.

Attention to dental health in cats is also an important part of their overall health especially as  owners often feed their cats soft food and treats.  This means they do not get the opportunity to bite into crunchy items that can help clean away tartar build-up which can lead to dental problems.

Petstages has developed innovative Dental toys that offer dogs & cats the opportunity to crunch, chew and clean while they play.

It is a range however that I’m having difficulties finding in Australia as my regular supplier has discontinued the line. I have been able to find two retail outlets for those that are interested – one just does the dog range ( whilst the other site is actually a human baby product range ( which disappointingly does not give any worthy descriptions of the products available. I will endeavour to become a distributor myself if I can negotiate terms that will suit my micro-business (i.e. no minimum purchase)

In the mean time for those interested the toys I recommend from this range to place in the tool box of behaviour and dental health are:

  • Dog: any of the Orka range – The Orka Jack always was a very popular toy when I stocked it. Clients raved about its hard wearing ability to keep the dogs entertained.
  • Cats: the Cat-nip filled Dental Chews, Dental mice, Plaque Away Pretzel– all three have unique netting on them that helps remove soft tartar and massages gums as cat chews. The Tons Of Tails has three different fabric varieties that encourage and assist with chewing


And you thought you couldn’t incorporate behaviour enrichment with dental health - well now you know you can.

If you have a question for Gillian about the best environmental enrichment toys that also  promote dental health... why not ask her ion the comments section below?

Update: September 2015

Click here to download a pdf version of this blog post that can be printed up as a client handout

Gillian Shippen is not only a Nurse Manager, but has also written a book: 'Pets Need a Life Too - A Guide to Enriching the Life of Your Pet - Series One: Dogs' AND she runs her online website 'Pets Need a Life Too!' where she sells a range of enrichment toys for pets including wheelchairs for dogs.

Click here to visit: Pet's Need A Life Too! Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


There are currently no comments.

Add Your Comments

All comments will be submitted to the administrator for approval.

To prevent spam, please type in the code found in the red box to verify you are a real person.
  Required fields

Blog Categories


Recent Blog Entries


Tag Cloud

follow us on twitter