February is Pet Dental Health Month and it’s a perfect time to double-check how you’re doing with your pet’s own dental health. Maybe it’s time to make some healthy changes.

It’s estimated that eighty percent of all dogs and cats have some form of dental disease and gum disease and it can be very severe. Dental disease affects much more than fresh breath, it can frequently lead to more serious health problems such as kidney and heart disease. Veterinarian experts strongly recommend daily dental care for pets and twice-a-year mouth exams, beginning early.

Everyone learns the importance of good dental health when they’re young. Your dog and cat depend on you to keep their teeth and gums free of plaque and gum disease. And it’s not as difficult as you may think it is!

Your dog and cat deserve clean, white, bright teeth, fresh breath, and healthy gums. As always, a good preventive, holistic program is the best way to ensure good dental health and avoid many of the issues that can come with poor dental care.

Tartar can lead to inflamed and infected gums (gingivitis) and periodontal disease. This can cause many health issues, especially in animals with a compromised immune system. Reports suggest a link between periodontal disease and diseases that affect the lungs, kidneys, and heart teeth cleaning dog

This is easy to avoid by making some healthy changes in your pet’s diet. Unfortunately, it’s a myth that dry dog foods help keep teeth clean and prevent tooth decay. (do croutons keep our teeth clean?) Actually fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables are great due to the enzymes in these unprocessed foods. The enzymes help keep the tartar off the teeth so it doesn’t become a problem. Raw meaty bones and fresh vegetables like cauliflower, celery, apples and carrots (Salem and Foster love their carrots) are excellent at maintaining clean teeth. You can always tell when a dog or cat is on a raw fresh food diet by looking at their shiny white teeth!

Raw meaty bones (e.g. turkey necks and even our recreational raw bones) and our deer antlers, buffalo horns, and Himalayan Dog Chews are excellent at controlling tartar since your dog will scrape and gnaw (sometimes for hours!) on the rough surface from all angles. They’re really “nature’s toothbrush” – your dog’s brushing and doesn’t even know it! Plus they’re a wonderful source of calcium and phosphorus and they're great for both the physical and emotional well-being of your dog. Just remember – never feed any pet any cooked bone since they’re likely to splinter. Always monitor your dog when they're chewing their bones and make sure to take away any sizes that can be easily choked on.

For even more dental diet boosts consider adding some organic eggshells to your pet’s diet. Just make sure they’re broken into small enough pieces so there aren’t any sharp edges.

Even brushing your dog's teeth with virgin coconut oil can help with breath and their dental health too!

Adding a probiotic into your pet’s diet can also be beneficial for their oral health in addition to helping their digestive and immune systems.

Here’s a short checklist for you to get on a dental health program:

Check your pet’s gums and teeth regularly

Get comfortable with examining your pet’s teeth. Do this at least once a month and look for red, swollen gums, tartar build-up, abscesses, loose teeth or any other irregularities.

Make an annual teeth cleaning visit to the Vet for a professional cleaning.

Provide meaty bones and fibrous fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis.

Use a toothbrush or finger brush to regularly keep tartar off their teeth.

There are also natural dental oral gels, pastes, and powders that work very well at keeping the teeth tartar-free.

Four Muddy Paws carries many options for you when it comes to your pet’s dental health – from dental nutritional supplements to toys and dental implements like toothbrushes, finger brushes, toothpaste, and more. Come and check out what you can do to improve your pet’s own dental health.