5 Tips for Dog Dental Health
In our last article, we explained the importance of consistently checking on your dog’s gums and what they can indicate when it comes to your dog’s health. Today, we're looking at 5 Top Tips to keep your dogs dental health in tip top shape!
Tip #1: Know what's normal
Start your dog’s dental care routine as soon as possible. Your dog needs to get used to you poking around in their mouth. Get your dog accustomed to your finger, start by simply lifting your dog’s lip and then eventually get them used to feeling around. Make sure to praise him/her for allowing you to do this. Take it at their pace to reduce stress (and make it easier on your long term).
Tip #2: Diet and Dental Health
Anyone who does not link poor dental hygiene to diet is mistaken. This is especially true when we look at the kibble available on the market. Kibble is often 80%+ carbohydrates (sugars) – and if not cleaned off can harden into tartar which is even harder to get rid of. The sugars feed the bacteria developing in this warm, blood rich area. These bacteria trigger the immune system, leading to inflammation and pain.
Without doubt, the best tip we can offer for your dog’s dental (and overall health) is a biologically appropriate diet. This will help your dog to establish and maintain the correct oral and digestive environment, which will in turn prevent build up of plaque and tartar. A biologically appropriate or raw food diet contains natural enzymes that help resist bacterial plaque. Many veterinarians and pet owners have seen healthier teeth and gums in dogs eating raw food diets and raw meaty bones.
Tip #3: Give the Dog a Bone!
Some sources recommend brushing your dog’s teeth. I have found that chews which naturally scrape and clean the dog's teeth are more effective and preferred by your dog! Personally I like to use raw bones, however you might prefer to also look into using things like hoofs or yak chews - there are a multitude of options on the market these days. Bones must be raw, and the size should suit the size of the dog. Some dogs will get so excited by bones that they can get very protective of them, so be careful when getting them back!
There is a risk that the dog chews so vigorously, that they can even fracture teeth, therefore they should always be supervised when chewing bones, antlers, or other chewing products. There is always a risk of choking or tooth damage, so supervision is essential.
Avoid any treats that claim to be healthy chews as they often contain rawhide, gluten or corn syrup - and are completely ineffective! Note: Short nosed breeds and toy breeds often have teeth that do not meet normally, such breeds will not effectively remove debris from their teeth even with vigorous chewing. If you want to find out more about dog bones, take a look at Dr. Conor Brady's post and his advice.
Tip #4: Supplements
There are a plethora of options on the market these days that can help to reduce plaque build up, and even remove it. Probiotics (the right kind) can be used to support the healthy bacteria in the mouth and reducing inflammation and bad bacteria. There is a clear link between bad mouth bacteria and heart diseases (even in humans we can get endocarditis). Look out for ones that contain things such as:
Chlorophyll and Seaweed: Reduce inflammation and build up of plaque and tartar
Manuka Honey: Kills bacteria
Grapefruit/grape seed extract: Antimicrobial
Tip #5: Know when to visit your vet
Sometimes, preventative care isn’t enough and if you have a breed that’s prone to periodontal disease, it’s best to visit your vet. A dog needs to be put under anaesthetic for a dental clean as it can be super uncomfortable and afterwards, be aware that their gums might be sensitive for a day or so. Before deciding to go down this route, talk to your vet and ensure you are happy that your dog is healthy enough to go under anaesthesia and that you are happy your vet is qualified and experienced in the area of dental care.
If you have questions about your dog's dental care, get in touch!