Better Teeth Without Brushing
Dental disease is the most common health problem for both dogs and cats, leading to foul breath, infected gums and eventual loss of teeth. Removing plaque and tartar from tooth surfaces is the best form of prevention. While daily brushing is a good practice, brushing an animal’s teeth is not an easy habit to establish, and sooner or later most pet parents will be faced with the considerable costs and risks of professional cleaning under anesthesia. There are other options, however, that are easy to implement and can make professional cleanings a less frequent event or even a thing of the past.
The Role of Diet in Dental Health
In the wild there is no tooth decay. Only humans and their domesticated pets sharing a similar diet of cooked starches form dental plaque, the sticky biofilm made up of harmful bacteria that break down tooth enamel and attack gum tissue. Dry pet food doesn’t scrape teeth clean any more than pretzels clean our teeth. In fact, oral bacteria like to feed on the starchy residue kibble leaves behind. Raw food and high meat diets, on the other hand, create a less hospital environment in the mouth for bacteria to grow, with a different pH and very few sugars or starches. When the diet is switched, results are noticeable.
Chewing Plaque Away
Chewing is a great way to keep teeth healthy and clean. Our favorite chews, hands down, are raw bones. Called “Nature’s toothbrushes”, they scrub plaque way, and most dogs absolutely love them. The saliva produced by chewing bathes the oral cavity with anti-bacterial enzymes. Marrow bones, knuckle bones, kneecaps and meaty poultry parts all make excellent chews. Knuckles provide the most flossing from the tendons and ligaments. Cats will sometimes go for poultry neck pieces. If your dog is new to raw bones, supervise his chewing to make sure he isn’t trying to swallow the bone whole, and only give for 20 minutes at a time until you feel comfortable that he is clean teeth too. As little as twice a week can make a difference, but daily chewing is preferred. The added benefit of happier canine is a big plus.
More Ways to Keep Teeth Healthy
Many dental products can be added to food or applied directly to teeth, and work well for cats and small dogs who may not be avid chewers. Minerals in kelps and seaweeds have been found to interfere with oral bacteria and their ability to stick to teeth. Tiny servings of Plaque Off or SeaDent mixed with food inhibit plaque formation. Wysong Denta-Treat looks and tastes like parmesan, with dental-active cheese enzymes that gradually dissolve plaque. Plaque Zapper goes in the water bowl and prevents bacteria colonies from proliferating with a patented enzyme delivery system.
Regular use of PetzLife oral spray and gels kill harmful bacteria, even below the gum line, using grapefruit seed extract and other natural ingredients. The salmon-flavored gel, with 10% salmon oil, is especially good for cats – wipe a pea-sized serving on a paw, and your cat will lick it off. Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste are dental chews with several plaque-inhibiting substances and breath-fresheners, in several sizes.
While it’s never too late to intervene, prevention is easier than cure. Good dental care will give you and your companions more happy years together Whether you use one of the approaches or all of them, the preventative steps will go a long way in saving you money in expensive pet dental treatments, and saving your pet from suffering and pain.