Here's something to sink your teeth into. February is Dental Health Care month and although I'm literally squeaking this blog in on the very last day, dental care is far too important to be ignored. So here is something that can have a cruical impact on your dog's health. -TAKING CARE OF YOUR DOG 'S TEETH.
I always thought people who brushed their dog's teeth were being a tad obsessive, but when my vet informed me they pulled 13 teeth out of my Pug Raisin's mouth and handed me a bill large enough for me to sink my own teeth into, I realized how important doggie dental care is.
Unless you're a four year old child, you probably wouldn't dream of going day's on end without brushing your teeth. Believe it or not, just like us, your dog shouldn't either.
When plaque is allowed to accumulate on your dog's teeth, within a few days it hardens into tartar. Tartar adheres to the teeth and irritates the gums. Irritated gums result in an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Dogs with gingivitis have red rather than pink gums, and they often also have stinky breath. If the tartar isn't removed, it builds up under the gums, eventually causing them to pull away from the teeth. This creates small pockets in the gum tissue that trap additional bacteria in the mouth.
Once things progress to this stage, your dog will have developed an irreversible condition called periodontal disease, which not only causes considerable pain, but can also result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth, and bone loss.
But here's what's really starting: Should your dog develop periodontal disease, the surface of his gums will be weakened, which can allow mouth bacteria to invade the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. If his immune system doesn't kill off the circulating bacteria, it can reach the heart and infect it with a multitude of scary issues.
A Purdue University study points to a strong correlation in canines with gum disease and endocarditis, which is an inflammatory infection of the valves or inner lining of the heart. They also suspect certain strains of oral bacteria may lead to a host of heart problems.
Some types of bacteria found in the mouths of dogs produce sticky proteins that can adhere to artery walls, causing them to thicken. Mouth bacteria are also known to promote the formation of blood clots that can also severely damage the heart
If that's not bad enough, studies have linked periodontal disease in both humans and pets to systemic diseases of the kidneys, liver, and lungs. It can also result in diabetes complications, problems during pregnancy, and even cancer. These serious health problems can either develop or be worsened as inflamed or bleeding gum tissue allows harmful oral bacteria to filter into the bloodstream quicker than a pug can devour a meal.
In addition to systemic diseases, infections in the mouth and gums often create other problems including tooth root abscesses, jaw fractures, nasal infection, and in extreme cases, eye loss and oral cancer. If your dog is lucky they may get by with a simple cavity or chipped tooth.
That probably scared you enough to start looking for a now doggie toothbrush. And that's good news since most of these conditions can be avoided or greatly improved once good oral hygiene has begun and any dental disease has been resolved.
As you can see, your dog's oral hygiene is much more than just an obsessive grooming afterthought. It's an extremely important factor in maintaining your dog's health and longevity. I advise you begin by talking to your vet and getting a thorough evaluation of your dog's teeth, gums and mouth. In my case, with young Olive, I began daily brushing at home which is sufficient for now. But with Raisin, I needed twice yearly cleanings and a major oral surgery to repair just a few years of neglect. Pugs, and other "flat-nosed" breeds come genetically disadvantaged in terms of dental health. Their cramped, flat muzzles and shape of their mouths makes properly cleaning back molars about as easy as resisting a homemade brownie straight out of the oven. Pugs seem to have teeth settled in the far reaches of their throats. They're hard to find and even harder to clean. Again, your vet can recommend tartar-removing sprays, and other products which might be useful. Hopefully you can get things under control and a deep cleaning with anesthesia will not be necessary.
Here are a few simple tips for keeping your pet's mouth healthy and introducing the toothbrush:
The next step is to use a safe, natural dental cleaning product designed for pets and apply a small amount to the gauze before you rub your dog's teeth. If you don't have canine toothpaste, you can use organic coconut oil. I pick up a big canning jar of it in the cooking oil section at Trader Joe's for around $6. Once they get used to this, you can progress to either a finger brush or a soft toothbrush the right size for their mouth.
If your furry companion is highly resistant to having their teeth rubbed or brushed, or, in the case of pugs or another new rescue dog that comes with a mouth needing major attention, you can use LICKS Zen supplements (found at PetSmart or other pet stores in the health section) which is i an all-natural calming supplement to chill-out an anxious dog. Your vet may also be able to prescribe something to keep your dog calm if a major procedure is needed to adequately clean their teeth. Also, ask your vet about products available that when applied to the teeth go to work to break down plaque and tartar without brushing. Those can be an added bonus for Pugs or other pets with dental issues. Remember, the more rubbing and brushing your pet will allow, the more quickly you'll see results, and the easier it will be to maintain great oral health. 🐾
Here is a must-read article regarding bones and dental treats by holistic Veterinarian, Dr. Laura Becker, DVM
According to a recent Packaged Facts report, U.S. sales of pet oral care products were expected to reach $775 million in 2015. A large chunk of that $775 million will come from the sale of oral care dog biscuits and treats. On one hand, it's great news that pet parents are becoming more aware of the need to focus on their animal companion's oral health. But the not-so-great news is that the quality of mass marketed oral care dog biscuits and treats leaves a lot to be desired.
For example, Greenies are still very popular despite the fact that safety concerns have relegated sales of these products to pet stores and veterinary offices only.
In 2014, Pedigree Dentastix was the top-selling oral care dog treat. Newer products such as Milk Bone Brushing Chews and Purina Beneful Healthy Smile Dental Twists have also been flying off store shelves.
Before You Buy Dental Care Treats, Read the Ingredient List! All three of the products I just named are remarkable for their lack of species-appropriate nutrients, as well as the sheer number of synthetic additives and preservatives that appear on the ingredient list.
The Milk Bone and Beneful treats even contain the synthetic toxic preservatives BHA (Milk Bone Brushing Chews) and BHA + BHT (Purina Beneful Healthy Smile Dental Twists). BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are used to prevent fats and oils in food from turning rancid.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program has identified BHA and BHT as cancer-causing agents that consistently produce certain types of tumors in laboratory animals.
Unfortunately, the FDA still permits use of these chemicals as preservatives in food, deeming them "generally recognized as safe" in low doses.
The problem is that pets are often fed the same processed food and treats day in and day out for months, years, or a lifetime. This can result in cumulative exposure to substances known to cause cancer.
I strongly encourage you to avoid pet food and treats containing BHA and BHT, as well as ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone), and propyl gallate.
Recreational Bones Can Be An Excellent Alternative to Processed Dental Treats. Since it can be very difficult to find store-bought dental care biscuits and treats that are nutritious, species-appropriate, and safe, have you considered offering your dog raw recreational bones?
Recreational bones are the big beef or bison femur or hipbones filled with marrow. They don't supply much nutrition (because they should be gnawed on only, not chewed up and swallowed), but they do provide great mental stimulation and oral health benefits.
When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially a meaty one with cartilage and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing. This helps to break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease.
Gnawing and repetitive grinding are the chewing actions that wear down plaque and tartar on teeth, which means big recreational bones or chews that are meant to be worked on by your dog over a period of time.
Smaller treats that are chewed and swallowed in a matter of seconds or minutes provide no real dental benefit for your pet. There's a big difference between treats that your dog chews and swallows almost immediately, and big bones or chews that require effort and can help control plaque and tartar in your dog's mouth.
10 Rules for Offering Recreational Bones to Your Dog. Before you give a recreational bone to your dog to chew on, you should be aware of the following 10 important guidelines:
Edible bones are the hollow, non-weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are soft, pliable, don't contain marrow, and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder.
Edible bones (whole or coarsely ground) are a good alternative to recreational raw bones for aggressive chewers. Another alternative is to offer bones with no marrow if your pet is battling a weight problem or needs a low fat diet. You can also replace marrow with fat free pumpkin and freeze.Bones that are too small can be choking hazards and can also cause significant oral trauma.