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5 Things To Improve Your Pet's Dental Health

by Lori Smith

Caring for our pet's teeth is very important for their overall health. Dental care is often overlooked by pet parents until their pet’s breath becomes a problem. That foul smell is the first indicator of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is one of the most common health issues in veterinary medicine. Even if your dog’s teeth look pearly white and clean, studies show that most dogs over the age of 3 have some component of periodontal disease. It’s worse in smaller breeds, and the incidence increases with age.

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?

What causes dental disease?

When you feed a kibble and canned food diet, food particles and plaque will accumulate on your pet's 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 on your pet's major organs as the infection spreads to the bloodstream. This is why it is very important to take care of your pet's teeth.  

5 things you can do to help prevent dental disease in your pet:

1. Feed a whole food or raw diet

The quality of the ingredients you are feeding is important. Dogs and cats are carnivores designed to eat meat. Uncooked raw meat and vegetables contain live enzymes that help to naturally break down food, reducing build up and balancing bacteria in your pet's mouth. Kibble diets contain excessive carbohydrates and are heat processed which destroys the essential enzymes. Look for frozen and freeze-dried whole food diets available at many pet food retailers. These diets contain raw or lightly cooked meat, bones, organs and veggies which is the best to feed your pet’s, not only your pet’s oral health but their overall health and immune system.    

2. 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 raw meaty bone to your dog and cat will not only help remove the plaque from the chewing action and increased saliva but the enzymes present in the raw bone work to break down build up and keep bacteria in your pet’s mouth in check. Look for raw bones from brands like OC Raw, Tuckers and Primal. There are a variety of creative toys specifically designed to be entertaining for your pet and serve the purpose of cleaning their teeth.

3. Use an enzymatic water additive, gel or spray

 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. TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Health Solution, is a water additive that offers daily plaque and tartar defense.

4. Brush your pet's 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 such as Zymox Oratene. If your dog or cat will not let you brush his teeth, start with just wiping your pet's teeth with a washcloth 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. 

5. Visit your veterinarian 

Take your pet to the vet and have their teeth examined. Your pet's 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. 

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