Dental Health and Your Pet  

We often overlook the importance of good dental care but it’s a critical element of our pet’s care as it’s the number one health concern for dogs and cats over three years old with over 68% showing some kind of periodontal or dental disease. Dental disease can make it difficult for many animals to eat and drink properly and gum and tooth decay can lead to increased infections traveling from the gums to the liver, heart and kidneys causing potentially life-threatening illness.  

Regular dental care includes examining your pet’s mouth on a regular basis – check their teeth, gums, tongue as well as the roof of their mouth and under their tongue too.  Get an idea of what their “normal” gum color and texture before disease sets in and it will help you identify potential health issues.   Chronic bad breath can also be an indication that a potential issue might exist as well as looking for any broken or cracked teeth. Any change in color or breath is an indication for a visit to your Veterinarian.   

What Can I Do?  

First is to schedule regular wellness exams with your Veterinarian.  These are great opportunities to identify any potential issues before they become a more significant health risk.  Serious dental issues may require professional cleaning or tooth extraction.   The plaque is scraped off and the teeth are polished to reduce the effect of additional plaque forming.  Regular daily brushings are the key to great dental health.  Starting when your pets are young will help them get adapted to it but many older animals will tolerate it too.  Using a specific pet dental toothbrush or finger brush is most effective.  Make sure you always use a paste made especially for pets as human toothpaste can make your pet ill. smiling dogs  

Doesn’t Kibble keep their teeth clean?  

The pet marketing departments would hope so but unfortunately cleaning a pet’s mouth with kibble is the equivalent of you cleaning your teeth with croutons or pretzels.  Regardless of the special shape or the added pumice in some kibble it does not do an effective job in cleaning the teeth.  Having teeth built for carnivores our dogs and cats have teeth for ripping and eating meat – not chewing kibble, hence the dogs and cats that eat their kibble even without chewing!  If it does come in contact with the teeth it’s just the tip of the tooth that crushes the kibble.  Certainly moving to a kibble that has a lower glycemic index with healthier carbs, thus reducing the creation of additional sugars, will help which is also why a canned diet can also be better then kibble with its increased moisture content.  Less kibble to stick to their teeth plus the added moisture is always beneficial, especially for cats.  

smiling dog dashRaw Bones – Nature’s Toothbrush  

We know that our dogs and cats are meat eaters and they’re quite efficient at chewing and digesting a fresh, raw meat diet.  A raw diet offers many significant health benefits due to the naturally occurring enzymes in the meat. In fact, just an ounce a day will help plaque from forming and keep your pet’s teeth clean. You can also tell a raw fed dog or cat because even in their older years their teeth are clean and bright and their breath fresh.   

Raw meaty bones (RMB) and recreational bones are going to be your pet’s best defense in regards to their dental health.  RMB’s include turkey and chicken necks, chicken breasts and wings.  Raw green tripe is another great option as it almost works like dental floss getting in between the teeth and it’s a great source of all sorts of beneficial bacteria.  Recreational bones are typcially weight bearing bones filled with nutritious bone marrow and are available in sizes from small to very large dogs. The gentle gnawing and scraping helps to keep the plaque off and the naturally occurring enzymes help soften the plaque and aids in helping bacteria from forming on the teeth.  

Supplements and Treats – A Little Something Extra  

One of the best oral health products on the market is Zymox Enzymatic Oral Care Therapy.  This unique product collection works on bad breath, plaque and periodontal disease and includes two patented enzymes not found in other products that help effectively inhibit the bacteria that cause bad breath, boost the natural oral flora and helps protects against gum disease and dissolve plaque.  It’s available in a paste, gel and spray.  We’ve found it to be very effective and it’s perfect oral health for our senior pets and other pets with reduced salivary gland production. Cat with Toothbursh  

We’ve always loved ProDen Plaque Off for it’s ease of use and it’s effectiveness.  It’s derived from special seaweed that’s very effective at softening the plaque and preventing new plaque from forming.  Just a small scoop on your pets’ food and your done!  Easy and effective – a great solution!  

Ark Naturals has developed a great line of dental health products Ark Naturals Dog Dental Products including their dental treat with built-in toothpaste.  How easy is that?  Yet it’s also very effective and available for all size dogs.   

Tropiclean Oral Health is another full line of dental health treats, toys, gels and water additives for complete oral care for both dogs and cats.  They even have a rope toy that doubles as teeth flosser.  

Petzlife Oral Care Products has also created a product line that works effectively to eliminate plaque, remove tartar, freshen breath and reverse gum disease.  Available in a long lasting easy to apply spray or gel formula.  Works for cats or dogs too.  

Of course, dogs love their tendon chews, Himalayan Dog Chews and antlers all of which will also help in keeping their mouths and teeth in healthy condition.  

By working with the right diet and adding in the appropriate chews, treats and supplements you can help your pet’s teeth stay white and their breath fresh for many years to come.  For additional information, go to American Veterinarian Medical Association Pet Dental Health Month