“ Manufacturer: Hill's / Type: Dog Food „
*What are Hills Oral Care Dog Snacks?*
These dog treats are produced by the veterinary exclusive Hills company, who manufacture a wide range of prescription diets to help manage various conditions and illnesses, and also a smaller range of regular pet food and treats.
*The product itself*
Where my dogs are concerned, dental care is something I'm very strict about! The dog I had previous to my current two was Ruby, a gorgeous little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and she was an amazing little dog with buckets of charm and eyes that could melt the coldest of hearts... and not to mention breath that could knock anyone out flat!!
You see, Rubes was a rescue dog, who had suffered years of neglect before being abandoned, and then taken to a rescue centre where I later adopted her from, and I was lucky enough to have seven fantastic years with her before she lost her battle to cancer and left me heartbroken in 2008. Her previous owner (if they could ever possibly be called that) really couldn't have given a damn about her, so of course paying a thought to her oral health was something that never happened, and when I acquired her, several teeth had already fallen out and the rest were a crumbling mess! Dental surgery took care of the severely infected and broken teeth, but regardless of what products I used, or how often I brushed her remaining teeth, an awful stench still wafted from her mouth wherever she opened it, and it was just something we had to live with!
The whole ordeal I had with Ruby has only made me even more determined to take the very best care of Grace and Benson's teeth and everyday they have at least one chew or treat that is going to help towards their dental care, and I give them an oral care gel, alongside feeding them a hard, dry diet. Even my fiancé, who is a vet, thinks I'm obsessed, but never mind!
As many of you will now by now, I'm a veterinary nurse, so when Hills launched their new range of healthy treats late last year, and my practice began stocking them, I snapped up a bag to try before they'd even been put on our shelves! Varieties included joint care, immune system support, coat care and low fat but with my doggie dental obsession, naturally the packet I chose was the one that claimed to help with dental hygiene- Hills Oral Care Dog Snacks.
The treats are of a dry biscuit style, which is the first feature that aids dental health- as the dog bites into the biscuit, the hard and gently abrasive texture of the biscuits helps to scrape the dogs teeth clean as they crunch through the treat, this gives much the same effect as a using a toothbrush on your dog would, but is obviously much more greatly received by the dog!
Secondly, the shape of the treats, which is a rounded cube type shape, is relatively awkward for a dog to eat, meaning they must shift the treat around their mouth before getting a comfortable grip to enable them to bite through. This gives much the same effect mentioned above- the treat scraping against the teeth helps to remove plaque and tartar.
Lastly, the natural extracts contained within helps to freshen breath and neutralise bad odours, and as an added bonus, the treats are fortified with Hills' unique 'Super Antioxidant Formula', for general health, vitality and wellbeing.
The treats come packaging in sleek looking black plastic pouches, which give all the usual information such as ingredients, feeding guidelines, nutritional info and contact details for Hills. Handily, the packet is resealable, allowing you to keep the treats fresh and crunchy even after opening.
*Price & Availability*
Hills is a specialist brand, which means it is only available in most veterinary surgeries and from selected stockists. The Oral Care Snacks are available in two sizes- 'Mini/Medium' for small to medium sized breeds, and 'Large' for larger breeds of dog over 25kg.
A 200g packet of either variety retails for approximately £2.99.
So far, I've been very lucky where Grace and Bensons teeth are concerned, Grace is still a youngster and therefore is fortunate enough to still have snow white teeth but her older 'brother' Benson is 5 years old now, which doesn't seem old at all I know, but he is a Bernese Mountain Dog, which are one of the (if not *the*) most shortlived breeds there is, having a cruelly short average lifespan of just 7 years, so unfortunately this means poor Benson is now getting on a bit! And like any older dog, even those who have had their teeth taken care of exceptionally well, he has a small amount of tartar on his back teeth especially, so looking after his dental health, and preventing it from getting any worse, is a paramount concern.
I've never been into the habit of brushing their teeth, and looking back, I'm not quite sure why this wasn't something I got into when they were puppies, but since they're fully grown now, and well set in their ways, I know they wouldn't take kindly to me using a brush on them, so I have to resort to the second best alternative- providing a diet rich in hard crunchy material, and plenty of strong chews such as rawhide.
The Hills brand, as I'm sure anyone with pets is aware of, is the brand that most vets seem to sell- if you walk into any surgery you're more than likely to see displays of the stuff stacked in the waiting room. It wouldn't be a food I'd personally feed, as I prefer food with more natural ingredients for my dogs, but don't get me wrong, it's good stuff and when the long awaited treat range hit the market last year, I couldn't wait to try them with my monsters.
The terrible twosome come to work with me everyday, so when our delivery of brand new Hills treats (or 'snacks' as they are branded!) arrived, I was able to trial them with the dogs as soon as I'd pinched my packet! Both my dog are well over the 25kg mark, so it was the 'Large' version I chose for my dogs, and they come in a snazzy looking packet with a big proud Husky sitting on the front (owners of smallies- look for the cute Pomeranian fluffball on the small sized treat!).
Anyway, opening up the packet, I was firstly impressed by the amount of treats you get in the packet. Some manufacturers can be a bit crafty with the how many treats they fill the bags with, but I was pleased to see Hills wasn't being sneaky, and the bag was fill to the brim, so that's one brownie point straight away- there is lots of treats in the bag for a reasonable price.
Next up, did the dogs like them? Well of course they did, this is Grace and Benson we're talking about! Hand them a lump of mud, tell them they're good dogs and they'd wolf that down thinking it was a treat (not that I've tried it of course!). It's safe to say Grace and Benson aren't the best dogs to test a treat product- there is only one possible outcome- they're going to absolutely love it regardless of what it is, so out in to the waiting room at the surgery I went with treats in tow (leaving my thoroughly disgusted pooches out the back) to see what the general opinion of less gannet like dogs were!
The results were a bit hit and miss. A couple of greedy Labs scoffed them down without barely taking the time to taste them, a little Jack Russell sniffed the biscuits, had a couple of licks and then decided he didn't like it and a big lump of a Boxer was so interested in the things she didn't even take it from my hand. The Hills treats had very little smell to them, which personally I found a bonus since they don't make your hands smell, but clearly a lot of dogs found this a turn off, and they probably wouldn't be ideal for owners of fussy dogs who judge things by smell first.
The most important point that needs addressing though is surely how good they are for the teeth, after all, they're marketed as an oral care snack, so do they really have any effect on the teeth? Of course, feeding these alone to your dog isn't going to keep his teeth gleaming white but if fed alongside a dry food diet, and plenty of hard chewy substances, then yes, I'd say the Hills Oral Care Snacks would be quite beneficial. Both Grace and Benson, and even the greedy Labs in the waiting room, had to take their time to eat these biscuits, they all shuffled them around their mouths for a few seconds before biting into them, and then they took a fair bit of crunching before they could swallow the treats, and you could hear the sound of the hard biscuits scraping against their teeth, helping to give them a little scrub.
To conclude, we waited a long time for Hills to bring out their range of treats, and I'm pleased to say, the wait was worth it. Grace and Benson love these treats and unlike some dental treats which I personally don't do any good, I really think these Hills Oral Care Snacks are a good addition to your dogs dental care routine. They're hard, dry, crunchy, clearly tasty and almost odourless to the human nose, so a perfect treat for walkies. Much to Grace and Benson's delight, I keep a packet in my desk drawer at work now, ready to slip them a couple when they're being good, and I don't need to rush off to wash my hands immediately after handling the treats, so I'm happy too!