Every February, Chew on This showcases Dog Dental Health month. We do this because of how important dental health is in dogs (& of course humans too) and how undetected it is.
Dental health is important because your dog’s dental health can greatly affect his/her overall health. Unfortunately, the vast majority of dogs and cats over the age of three have gum diseases*- usually unknown by their loving owner.
It always begins with the plaque (which turns into tartar) build-up. The tartar builds up under the gums causing a pocket between the teeth and the gums, which is a little gathering place for bacteria and a dog’s mouth is an ideal location for bacteria to grow- it’s dark, moist and warm. After a dog eats and there is a minuscule amount of food left, it sits there for the bacteria to chow down on and grow.
Now that the gums have weakened, the gums absorb the bacteria into the bloodstream. What makes this “bad” bacteria is the fact that it secretes toxins and once the bacteria is in the bloodstream, it is secreting toxins through-out your dog’s entire body and can cause ailments in any part of the body.
Don’t believe that it is ever too late to start. If your dog is one or ten, intervention with their dental health will help clean up the entire body.
So how can you intervene? It is important to know the signs and symptoms of dental pain which are bad breath and bleeding gums; but there can also be no symptoms at all*. So whether they have symptoms or not, the build-up of tartar should be controlled and prevented.
Some great ways to control plaque and tartar build-up include:
- Feeding raw bones: Chewing on raw bones will give your dog needed nutrients and enzymes from the raw meat and marrow to help battle the bacteria. Also, the bone is abrasive (unlike kibble) and when chewed, it helps to scrape the teeth of plaque and tartar. Talk to a Chew on This associate for more information on how to introduce your dog to raw bones.
- Dog toothpaste & teeth brushing: Often, pet owners find brushing their dogs teeth to be a difficult, if not impossible task. A lot of times this is because they go straight for the toothpaste. Have your dog slowly adjust to what brushing their teeth is like. Start with rubbing your finger on their gums, then wrap gauze around your finger and rub their gums, then add a dog-friendly toothpaste, then switch the gauze for a toothbrush.* Slowly but surely, daily tooth brushing can happen!
- Dental Treats: Dental treats will essentially combine the scraping effect of the bones (though not as great) with the toothpaste like products. Not all dog dental treats are created equal and we recommend looking into the ingredients of each treat and seeing if it’s something that would work for you and your dog. We recommend Zuke’s, Whimzees and PetzLife among others.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that does the body and the digestive tract, a lot of good. This good bacteria will combat the bad bacteria and fight for a healthy digestive tract. So this is an “inside” approach and not so much dealing with the teeth.
Please, let me go on to state that I am not a veterinarian and you should always get your vet’s advice on all health matters, especially if your dog has been dealing with dental issues for awhile and may have a more extreme gum disease going on.
If you’d like to know more about dental health and the preventative measures we suggest, come into Chew on This and a store associate will be happy to help.