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Beyond Basic: Why a Heart Healthy Dog Dental Chew Matters

Most of us consider our dogs to be important members of their family and we prioritize their health and wellbeing. Sound like you? Paramount to their welfare is caring for their oral health, and research shows that failing to do so can lead to a variety of medical problems, ranging from minor to very serious. That being said, the statistics surrounding canine oral health are somewhat alarming. Over 80% of all dogs suffer from some form of dental disease by age 3, and even the most dedicated dog owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth regularly, if at all.

To support your dog’s oral health, dental chews should be an important part of his daily nutrition routine. While the number of options available to choose from can be overwhelming, your dog’s chew should be working well beyond providing a temporary burst of fresh breath. Your goal should be to serve a chew that is as multi-functional as possible in order to maximize the health benefits. It will also include things like glucosamine to increase mobility and support joint and hip health, and balanced omegas for healthy skin and a shiny coat.  Furthermore, look for natural non-GMO ingredients, and avoid artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. 

Smartmouth Dental chews

While finding a chew that meets these standards is a step in the right direction, we also worry about bigger issues such as how to ward off serious diseases that could impact our dogs. One prevalent topic is DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) and the suspected link between serving a grain-free diet and heart disease. Concerns surrounding this frightening illness have generated an understandable amount of worry. While we can’t control everything that happens to our dogs, the subject of DCM has left many of us asking what we can do to try and keep their hearts as healthy as possible. Currently, Smartmouth™ from The Missing Link is the only dental chew on the market created to help optimize both your dog’s oral with added heart health ingredients by providing incredible benefits packed into one daily serving. That’s why it’s being recognized as the “beyond basic” chew. Not only is it the first dental chew to give your dog a daily supply of a vitamin supplement, it also contains three key heart healthy ingredients: flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and taurine. Below, we outline how these three ingredients can help keep your dog’s heart strong.

Flaxseed – When it comes topacking a nutritional punch, flaxseed is recognized as a standout in the superfood arena and has long been known to help with heart health. Flaxseed contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids (in the form of Alpha-linolenic Acid, or ALA), natural antioxidants in the form of lignans, and is full of naturally occurring trace vitamins and minerals.)Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as one of the good fats, are known for their antioxidating and anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown that adding them to a dog’s diet can positively affect their overall immune system. Flaxseed also contains lignans, which can support cardiovascular health.

Nutritional Yeast – Known as a food rich in antioxidants, it can help reduce stress levels, decrease toxins and support overall health. It’s also a great source of folate (B9) which has been known to help lower cholesterol. Additionally, vitamins B1-B6 are all necessary for detoxification, and vitamin B6 is especially important because it helps with red blood cell and nervous system function, hormone regulation, and more.

Taurine – Taurine is an amino acid known as being instrumental in overall vascular health and is needed to keep the heart strong and pumping optimally. It’s important to maintain adequate taurine levels in your dog’s body and including it in her chew can help. Despite many dogs being able to synthesize taurine through specific amino acids, they can still be susceptible to a deficiency. Genetics, breed, diet, or other causes may mean you need to be more on the lookout for a potential problem, so always talk with your vet to discuss concerns surrounding DCM.

Smartmouth Dental chews for dog dental month

The long-term benefits of a heart healthy chew are clear by now, but let’s not forget about the best short-term win of all for we fur parents: fresher breath and truly cleaner teeth! Smartmouth™ leads the pack in helping to make that dreaded dragon breath a thing of the past. At the same time, it deep cleans your pup’s teeth with unique bristle ridges and Stay-C™ (a patented form of Vitamin C) while helping to fight plaque and tartar build up. Did we mention it tastes great too?

Here’s to a happy and healthy life!

This article is for informational purposes only. Please always discuss any health concerns with your vet.


4 Ways Dental Care Impacts Your Dog’s Overall Health

If you are celebrating Pet Dental Month by taking care of your dog’s teeth on a regular basis, CONGRATULATIONS!  That extra effort you take will help keep those chompers pearly white, strong for eating, and — best of all – free of stinky dog breath for those up-close cuddles.

But did you know that by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and giving healthy dental chew products, you are doing far more than just making their smile bright?  You are actually helping their overall health and well-being.

Periodontal disease is an ugly and dangerous condition that happens five times more often in dogs than in people. It can lead not only to bleeding gums, bad breath and tooth loss – but also issues like diabetes and heart disease.  It is important to take preventative steps to avoid problems before they start.  Here’s what that dental TLC can do for your dog: 

  1. Reduce plaque to reduce infection.  Plaque is made up of bacteria, which signals the dog’s immune system to fight back with white blood cells. The white blood cells release enzymes that break down tissue — which can let bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body causing infections elsewhere, including the kidneys, liver and lungs. 
  2. Support Cardiovascular Health.  A dog’s heart and liver are especially susceptible to developing inflammation from dental disease. The bacteria that develops from periodontal disease is the same that can infect heart valves, causing an inflammation of the lining of the heart. Giving dental chews like The Missing Link® Smartmouth™ that contain heart healthy ingredients such as flaxseed, taurine and nutritional yeast aid in supporting cardiovascular health.
  3. Stop the vicious cycle.  Diabetic dogs tend to have higher levels of periodontal disease; in turn, the more severe the dental issues, the more serious the diabetes gets.  Once the dental issues are addressed, the diabetes is much easier to stabilize.
  4. Reduce weakness and pain.  A dog can, and will, still eat with a painful tooth and may not exhibit other tell-tale signs like excessive drooling or bleeding. They continue to live with the pain.  In smaller breeds, infections in the dog’s mouth can weaken their jaws making them susceptible to fracture because the bone has become unhealthy. Don’t be fooled by “normal” behavior. Problems may be lurking.

Our pups can’t tell us how they are feeling, or if they are in pain. But with good oral hygiene including regular Vet exams, tooth brushing, and treating with nutritional dental chews, you can be a Dental Hero and help keep your dog – from Maltese to Mastiff — pain free and healthy. And get fresh-breath kisses and tail wags as a thank you.

For the month of February, The Missing Link® is giving away four Happy Mouth Kits!  Check it out on Instagram to participate. 


The Perils of Gum Disease in Dogs, by Wendy Fries, WebMD Archives

5 Scary Consequences of Neglecting Your Dog’s Teeth by Dr. Hanie Elfendbein, DVM, PhD, Pet MD Archives

What is Collagen and How Can It Help My Dog?

I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot about collagen in pet foods lately, and as a pet food nutritionist, I decided to look into collagen a little more to see if it is something support wellness and vitality in our 4-legged family members.

It seems like collagen is the cure all for many different conditions in our beloved pets, but do we know why and how it works?

Collagen is a protein, one of the most abundant proteins found in the body. As our pets get older, their ability to produce collagen is decreased.  Collagen is all over, in muscles, bones, skin, tendons, blood vessels and even the digestive system, but, most importantly, collagen is a main component of cartilage.

There are 3 types of collagen found in the different areas of the body. All three are important, but work for different parts of the body. Type I & III are excellent for maintenance in skin, muscles and bones. Type II is found in joint & cartilage function.

In tendons and joints, collagen acts as a “glue” that holds the body together. Increasing collagen intake helps provide more “glue” to joints and tendons therefore can support mobility, bone strength and joint flexibility.

In skin and coat, collagen works to “renew” dead cells, creating constant new growth of skin cells and hair follicles to support a healthy, shiny, lustrous and full coat and healthy skin. Collagen also helps to lock in moisture in the skin to keep skin soft and moist.

A dog’s digestive system can also benefit from collagen supplementation, as this complex protein helps to repair cells in the digestive tract. Digestion is key to wellbeing, as that is where almost all the body’s nutrients are absorbed.

Adding an excellent source of collagen to your dog’s daily food intake will not only help increase their vitality and movement but will also help support healthy skin and a shiny coat and may just be that extra protein your pet needs to thrive for many years to come!



To learn about The Missing Link’s Collagen soft chew, see our blog post:

Carolyn Kennedy is the Director of CK Nutrition, a pet food consultancy dedicated to helping pet food companies around the world. With a passion for pet food and health, Carolyn is always looking at new ingredients and ways to enhance wellbeing; not only for Eddie (3) but for all pets everywhere.

Say Hello to The Missing Link® Collagen Care™

NEW Collagen Care™ from The Missing Link is super-concentrated, bite-sized soft chews featuring the most effective and cutting-edge ingredients specifically formulated to target a dog’s biggest health and wellness issues, such as joint pain, skin & coat issues and anxiety.

Collagen Care Calm, Hip & Joint, Skin & Coat array

Collagen is not just a trendy ingredient, it is the primary protein in a dog’s connective tissue, skin and bones. In fact, collagen makes up 30% of the total protein in their body (70% of the protein in their skin and coat alone!). As dogs age, their capacity to produce collagen diminishes making them more susceptible to injuries, painful conditions of the bones and joints, and poor skin and coat health. Lost collagen can be replaced through supplementation, and the earlier you begin providing additional collagen in your dog’s diet, the more likely you are to help prevent problems.

Collagen Care - Learn About


Provides your dog’s body with essential amino acids for bone strength & elasticity, helps maintain cartilage and connective tissue, supports age-related joint pain and healthy anti-inflammatory response.

Key Ingredient Solutions:

  • Collagen Type II (chicken) – provides amino acids for bone strength & joint flexibility
  • Glucosamine – Supports age-related joint comfort
  • Chondroitin – Helps maintain cartilage and connective tissue
  • Turmeric & Ground Flaxseed – support healthy inflammatory response
Shop now for Collagen Care Hips & Joints


Through the power of collagen and other skin healthy ingredients, these chews support a healthy, moisturized; soft, and shiny coat by helping with dry, itchy and dull coat issues.

Key Ingredient Solutions:

  • Collagen Type I & III (marine) – Helps support hair growth, strong nails and a healthy coat
  • Ground Flax Seed – Helps promote a glossy coat
  • Fish Oil – Helps maintain healthy skin
  • Coconut Oil – Helps maintain moisture levels
Shop now for Collagen Care Skin & Coat


With a unique combination of collagen and other calming ingredients, these chews help your dog relax without feeling drowsy and soothes occasional gastric distress. Great for dogs that are anxious around fireworks, visitors, car rides, grooming/vet visits, have sleeping issues or need to calm and focus in order to train. We’ve added probiotics to help with gastric distress which has been shown to be connected to anxiety issues.

Key Ingredient Solutions:

  • Collagen Type I & III (marine) – Helps soothe occasional gastric distress
  • Broad Spectrum Hemp – A NON- psychoactive ingredient that supports behavior modification and training programs
  • Probiotics – Helps soothe occasional gastric distress
  • Chamomile – Promotes a sense of relaxation and mental alertness without drowsiness
  • L-Theanine – Helps dogs cope with external stresses like fireworks, car rides and new visitors
Shop now for Collagen Care Calm & Focus
Non-GMO assurance, Made in the USA


What are the benefits of Collagen?

Skin & Coat

  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Supports wound healing
  • Supports tissue health

Hips & Joints

  • Collagen Type II contains chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and the antioxidant proteoglycan
  • Promotes collagen formation
  • Supports bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament health

Calm & Focus

  • Promotes better sleep quality
  • Improves cognition
  • Supports brain function
  • Reduces anxiety

Can I give these chews to puppies?

Skin & Coat: Puppies can be given the Skin & Coat chew if it is fully weaned from its mother and eating solid food without issue.

Hips & Joints / Calm & Focus: These chews are not suitable for puppies under 1 year of age and are recommended only for adult dogs.

Can these products be used on pregnant or nursing dogs?

We recommend consulting your veterinarian prior to ensure the health and safety of the mother and puppies.

I noticed Brewers Dried Yeast is an ingredient used in Collagen Care™ Skin & Coat. Could this be contributing to my dogs allergy/yeast issues?

The type of yeast used, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer’s yeast), is a different species than the type that causes yeast infections, such as Candida albicans. The brewer’s yeast used does contain gluten.

How should the Collagen Care™ chews be stored?

The chews can be stored in the original jar they were purchased in. Be sure to securely close the lid after each use and store the product in a cool, dry location out of reach of children and animals.

Can I freeze the Collagen Care™ chews?

We do not recommend freezing the chews and instead storing them in a cool, dry location out of reach of children and animals.

Can I give Collagen Care™ chews to cats or other small pets?

No. These chews are intended only for canine consumption.

Can I feed my dog more than one type of Collagen Care™, for example Skin & Coat and Hips & Joints?

Yes. There is no risk of over-supplementation if the directions for use are followed on the packaging according to your dogs size.

If I’m already giving my pet TMLO powders in their food, is it safe to also give them the soft chews?  Should I cut back on how much I’m giving of either one?

It is safe to give your dogs both The Missing Link Original powder and Collagen Care soft chews at the same time. We recommend following the feeding directions on both packages and there is no need to reduce the recommended feeding size.

Does the Calm & Focus product with hemp get my dog “high“?

The Calm & Focus chew with hemp does not contain the psychoactive compounds and your animal is not at risk of feeling “high.”

What is the source of the Hemp used in Collagen Care™ Calm & Focus?

The source is from industrial hemp grown in Colorado and Kentucky.

What is the extraction method of the broad-spectrum hemp in Collagen Care™ Calm & Focus?

The method used for extraction is proprietary, but the material is tested at certified third party labs for purity, pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, microbiology, and mycotoxins to ensure it meets specifications for safety and purity.

What is the benefit of this Ingredient / why is this ingredient in the product?

5 Tips to Make Clear the Shelters Day the Best Yet!

Clear the Shelters day is coming up on Saturday!  The goal is to get all the shelter pups across the country adopted!  Let’s all make this an epic day of adoption, here are some recommendations on how you can help get your own local shelter cleared out!

clear the shelters day

1. Volunteer on Clear the Shelters Day (& Other Weekends Too)! 

Most shelters are woefully short staffed, run in large part by volunteers or staff members who can barely make ends meet!  As a result, most shelters are stretched thin when it comes to shelter greeters, and it’s not usually possible for shelter staff to provide all visitors with adequate attention. 

The problem is; shelters can be as stressful for humans as they are for the animals!

clear the shelters day


For new shelter visitors, having a volunteer free to guide them around the shelter and show them a few favorite four-legged candidates can make a big difference. 

Try to find out what kind of pet would best match the family’s lifestyle and desires- do they want a little or big dog? Any certain breeds they’re after? What kind of traits are they looking for (good with kids? High-energy? Low Energy? Apartment-friendly?) 

For Clear the Shelters day, do your best to keep a quick cheat sheet list of dogs that meet the most-requested criteria (Cheat sheets tend to have categories such as: house-trained, kid-friendly, dog-friendly, cat-friendly, and can be left alone). While there probably aren’t many (or any) shelter pets that will match all of those criteria, there are probably several that fulfill at least a couple of them. 

If visitors come in but just aren’t quite ready to commit, you can suggest that they really do some soul searching about what kind of cat or canine they want in their lives. The website, has a dog adoption guide that includes a dog trait scorecard that would-be adopters can utilize to evaluate and score possible adoptees. It might sound strange, however, having a scorecard to score various adoption candidates can really help narrow down the selection and make choosing a shelter pet a much more manageable endeavor. 

2. Post on Social Media That Now’s the Time to Adopt!

People online love shelter pets (to be fair, who doesn’t?). Make sure to spread the word about Clear the Shelters day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media network you frequent!

Be sure to tag your local animal shelter and even post photos of some of the Clear the Shelters day action happening on site, if you can. Remind your followers that the goal today is to get as many pets adopted as possible! 

Many shelters are also running discounted adoption fees (or even no adoption fees at all)! If money has been a factor in the past, it doesn’t have to be on the 17th!

3. Remind Your Friends and Family Members

Yes, it’s true that social media is a powerful tool, but it’s still no substitute for good ol’ fashioned word of mouth! If you have friends or family members who have been toying with the idea of adopting, now is the time to give them a gentle nudge. 

No one is advocating pressuring folks into taking on a responsibility they aren’t ready for, but if all their ducks are already in a row, Clear the Shelters day is a great time to bring home a new friend!

4. Post Flyers to Promote Your Favorite Pets

If you regularly volunteer at a neighborhood shelter, you probably have gotten to know a handful of dogs or kitties who have captured your heart. You’d bring them home if you could, but you can’t. Well, you can do the next best thing – help get them into a loving furever home!

Show off your favorite shelter pets by giving them their own colorful flyers broadcasting all their best traits (whether they are pro snugglers, great home alarm system, or high-octane running buddies)!

clear the shelters day

Pin up those flyers before Clear the Shelters day if you can (although this is still a great strategy for getting any shelter pet adopted or for promoting a foster pet). Some pet-pondering passerby might see your poster and fall in love! 

5. Ask Your Vet’s Office to Spread the Word

Many families aren’t single-pet households (or at least don’t stay that way for long). A lot of owners choose to have two or more pets in their household for double the fur and double the fun! 

clear the shelters day

Everyone who visits a vet’s office likely has an existing pet, but that doesn’t mean they’re not up for adding another furry family member to the pack! Call your vet’s office and ask if they’ve been telling folks about Clear the Shelters day. You could even ask if the office would allow you to post flyers promoting the event, or some of the pet profile flyers mentioned above. 

It’s important to remember that any new canine should be safely be introduced to the resident dog before signing off on those adoption papers. Most shelters have a behaviorist or two on staff that have experience managing dog on dog introductions. 

Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for a new and existing dog to really get the hang of each other. At least a bit of frustration and annoyance is bound to ensue, especially if you’re introducing a new puppy to an older resident dog. Just be patient and give both dogs time to adjust. They may end up best buds. Or it might not work out. Either way is fine, so long as you have given it a fair shot!

Written by our friend Megan, Founder of K9 of Mine. You can find more information about adopting a shelter pet and other helpful pet care tips at her website