Healthy Teeth, Healthy Pet!
Published on: August 8, 2017
Time for a six month check-up!
February might be National Pet Dental Month, but it’s important to take care of your pet’s teeth all year long! Dental issues like excessive plaque build-up can lead to more serious conditions and bad breath can be an indicator of something wrong on the inside. No one really wants to stick their nose right up near their dog or cat’s mouth, but regular checks are a part of good pet ownership!
Take note of changes in your pet’s behavior. Do they seem to favor one side of their mouth when they chew? Are they eating less because chewing is painful to them? Is their breath really smelly? If you suspect your pet is in pain or something isn’t right with their oral health, be sure to have them checked out by their regular veterinarian. By keeping an eye out for changes in pet behavior, you could keep a minor issue from turning into a major concern! Outside of regular dental checks and cleanings, the best healthcare is prevention. Here are some products that can help keep your pet’s teeth sparkling between vet visits:
Brush, Brush, Brush!
Hands down the best way to take care of your pet’s dental health is to brush their teeth! Some people believe that kibble will help “scrape” a dog or cat’s teeth clean, however; this is a myth. All kibble has a certain amount of carbohydrate in it to act as a binding agent. The digestion process begins in the mouth, and as carbohydrates are digested, they turn into sugars that your pet uses as a quick source of fuel. Over time, those sugar can feed bacteria and cause plaque build-up.
Just like with our own teeth, the most effective way to prevent this is with regular brushing! Start slow, once a week or just half their teeth at a time, as you get your pet used to it. Try not to stress them out, if they’re not having it, stop and try again later. As they get more used to it, increase brushing until you’re able to get all their teeth. Once a day is best, but not always feasible, so try to brush as often as possible. If you’re not sure which brushes or pastes to use, feel free to stop by your locally owned and operated Wag N’ Wash and ask a team member!
Munch and Crunch
While kibble won’t necessarily clean your pet’s teeth, there are some treats that can help. Some dental chews can help keep plaque from forming. They’re formulated to help scrape teeth while chewing and often have ingredients like clove, parsley, cinnamon or mint to help freshen breath. Brands like Ark Naturals even make soft dental chews for senior pets who have a hard time eating.
Chews and bones, particularly raw bones, offer a natural way to help your pet keep their teeth clean. The live enzymes on raw bones help to create a more acidic environment in the mouth which can help keep bacteria at bay. For cats, you can try smaller raw chews like Primal Chicken Necks to encourage healthy chewing and teeth cleaning. It’s important to keep in mind that raw bones and chicken necks should only come from a reputable source. This ensures there are no harmful bacteria or contagions on the bone. Raw bones from brands like Primal go through rigorous testing. Raw bones picked up at a butcher shop don’t. Bones should only be used in moderation as it can take a long time for them to fully digest. Remember to supervise your pet with bones and chew sticks and always take away pieces that may present a choking hazard.
Other Helpful Products
A few brands offer seaweed or kelp-based food additives that can help keep your pet plaque free. Products like SeaDent and PlaqueOff are powders that can easily be added to your pet’s regular food. The enzymes in the seaweed and kelp help fight the formation of plaque-causing bacteria. A good chew toy can also be useful. If you’re having trouble getting your pet used to brushing, try putting some pet-friendly toothpaste on a favorite toy, especially one with teeth-cleaning ridges or bristles. The chewing will help clean their teeth while associating the toothpaste with a fun activity!