by Lori Blauert
Caring for our pet's teeth should be a no-brainer. We humans brush and floss regularly and visit our dentist for cleanings - so why are we not this diligent with our pet's oral care? Maybe it's because dogs and cats in the wild don't brush and visit the vet for check ups so we just assume they just don't need it. The problem with this thinking is that many of our pets don't eat the same diet as they would eat in the wild. They are not using their teeth to tear flesh and gnaw on bones like they would in nature. The dry kibble diet that many of us feed our pets today lacks many important nutrients that keep our pets healthy.
What causes dental disease?
When you feed a kibble and canned food diet, food particles and plaque will accumulate on your pets teeth at the gum line. As plaque builds up it will eventually harden to form tartar. Your pet's body initially reacts to this build up of tartar by displaying inflamed gums which then leads to an infection known as periodontal disease. Dental disease can have a negative impact your pet's major organs as the infections spreads to the bloodstream through the gums. This is why it is very important to take care of your pet's teeth.
Here are 5 things you can do to help prevent dental disease in your pet:
Feed a whole food raw diet
Dogs and cats are carnivores designed to eat a raw diet in nature. Uncooked raw meat and vegetables contain live enzymes that naturally break down plaque build up and fight bacteria in your pet's mouth. Kibble and canned food diets are heat processed and lack these essential enzymes. Frozen and freeze-dried raw diets have become more popular over the past 10 years and are available for cats and dogs at many independent pet retailer. Many of these diets contain raw ground meat, bones, organs and veggies which contain the live enzymes that will work to keep your pets oral health in check. It is important to remember that when your pet consumes ground raw meat they still don't have to use their teeth to tear and chew like they would when consuming a raw diet in nature so it is very important to also offer raw meaty bones such as poultry necks and meaty bones.
Use an enzymatic water additive, gel or spay
There are a number of enzymatic dental products available which when used regularly will break down plaque and fight bacteria in your pet's mouth. If you do not feed a raw diet, using enzymatic products is imperative to maintain good oral health in your pet.
Brush your pets teeth
Regular brushing is an excellent way to prevent oral diseases. Select a toothbrush designed best for your pet's size mouth and use a enzyme toothpaste. If your dog or cat will not let you brush his teeth start with just wiping your pets teeth with a wash cloth or using a soft dental finger brush. If you make teeth cleaning a positive experience by using a tasty toothpaste, giving lots of pets and praise, teeth brushing will eventually become a more enjoyable experience for you both.
Give your pet dental chews, raw bones and toys designed to help clean your pet's teeth
The action of chewing removes plaque build up. Offering a raw meaty bone to your dog and cat will not only help remove the plaque from chewing action but the enzymes present in the raw bone work at breaking down build up and keeping bacteria in your pets mouth in check. There are a variety of creative toys on the market specifically designed to be entertaining for your pet and serve the purpose of cleaning their teeth. One of our favorites it the Petsafe Busy Buddy Bristle Bone!
Visit your veterinarian
Take your pet to the vet and have their teeth examined. Your pets teeth may require medical attention to get them back on a healthy track. Animals with compromised immune systems and senior pets are far more susceptible to dental diseases because their body is unable to fight infections and heal itself. Click here to learn more about what you can protect and improve your pet's immune system and health.