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New Study: Nearly 70% of Dog Parents Have Never Brushed Their Dogs' Teeth

Nearly all dog people believe that they are doing enough to look after their dog’s oral health. However, a new survey of more than 1,000 dog parents commissioned by BARK, the company behind BarkBox and the new canine dental system Bright Dental, reveals that most dog people are unaware of the risks associated with poor dental care for their dogs, aren’t doing enough to combat dental disease and don’t really believe that any dental health issues will impact their dog.

Most dog parents aren’t properly caring for their dogs’ teeth and are unaware that their routines (or lack thereof) are insufficient.

  • While vets recommend brushing 2x per day, less than one-third (31%) of dog parents EVER brush their dog’s teeth at home.
  • About half (46%) of dog parents that do brush their dogs’ teeth only do so about once or twice per week.
  • Almost half of dog parents (47%) who don’t brush their dogs’ teeth say that they don’t think they need to brush because they see dental chews as a sufficient alternative to brushing, while veterinary oral health experts say that this is the equivalent to a human dry brushing with no toothpaste.

Medical studies show that more than 80% of dogs develop oral disease by the age of three, which can cause infections, horrible breath, and eventually, expensive surgery under general anesthesia. However, the majority of dog parents are in the dark.

  • Sixty percent of dog people are unaware that poor dental health can affect their dog’s overall wellbeing and 83% aren’t aware that bad breath can be a sign of an infection in their dog’s mouth.
  • Only about two in five (37%) of dog people say they should be brushing their dogs’ teeth more often.
  • This is likely because the vast majority (78%) don’t believe that their dog will experience a dental issue in his or her lifetime.

Brushing a dog’s teeth is miserable for humans and dogs.

  • Most (56%) of those who brush their dogs’ teeth say their dog doesn’t sit still.
  • One third (33%) of dog parents who brush are afraid they are going to hurt their pup while brushing their teeth.
  • One in four (25%) of dog parents who brush their dogs’ teeth say that brushing is the worst part of having a dog.
  • If given the choice, dog parents would rather comb their dog’s coat (70%), give their dog a bath (59%) or walk them in the rain (52%) over brushing their teeth.

Bad breath impacts the relationship between dogs and people.

  • More than half of dog people (57%) say they would have less interactions with their dog if they have bad breath.
  • Dog people also say they would avoid kissing their dogs (40%), talking to them nose to nose (28%) and sharing a bed (19%) if their breath stinks.

The study was released in conjunction with the launch of BARK Bright Dental, an award-winning, first-of-its-kind, triple-enzyme system that serves as an alternative to brushing. Bright is two parts: a gel and a chew. The enzymes are in the gel, which is squeezed onto the tasty (chicken flavored) dental chew and given to the pup as a treat. The chew scrubs plaque and tartar off the teeth, and then the enzymes break them down to reveal fresh breath. No other canine dental product has three enzymes, which is why Bright is much more effective than anything else on the market.

“Humans brush their teeth at least twice a day, but rarely brush their dog’s teeth even though periodontal disease affects the vast majority of dogs in their lifetime," said Jan Bellows, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Dental Specialist and President of the Foundation for Veterinarian Dentistry. "Bright Dental is a product filling in a wildly neglected part of pet health and wellness,” said Dr. Bellows. “BARK has made daily ‘brushing’ a fun time for my dog.”

Study Methodology:

The BARK Bright Dental Survey was fielded by Kelton Global among 1,030 dog owners aged 18+ in the United States. The survey was conducted online during the period of January 22 – 29, 2020 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

Bright Dental Survey