February is Canine Dental Health Month!

by | Feb 13, 2019 | Blog, Nutrition

Yes, it’s time to think about the regular routine of brushing your dog’s teeth. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a big sloppy kiss from your number one fan—your canine partner?

I know it is not a favorite thing to do (the teeth brushing, not the kissing) but there are many reasons to attend to your dog’s pearly whites.  (Hopefully, they are still white!) By the age of three, 80 percent of dogs already have periodontal disease. This is one of the most preventable health issues. According to Web MD, “A main cause of chronic kidney failure in dogs is dental disease.”

Did You Know Your Dog’s Teeth Can Affect Her Physical Health?

You many be wondering how dirty teeth can cause diseases in other parts of the body.  That’s because the bacteria in a dog’s mouth forms plaque that sticks to the tooth surface. Minerals in the saliva harden this plaque to form tartar. As the tartar grows under the gum line, it allows bacteria to enter the blood stream and travel to the liver, kidney and heart.  If that wasn’t enough, the bacteria secrete toxins which stress the immune system causing inflammation and local tooth damage due to bone loss.

Your dog may be living with chronic pain but not be showing you how much pain he is really in. Unlike a husband, dogs are quite stoic. If your furry buddy goes off his food and seems uninterested at mealtime, he may be suffering from severe gum disease and or loose teeth.

How Fresh Cooked, Human Grade Dog Food Can Affect Your Dog’s Dental Health

I know what you are thinking. “But I feed my dog dry kibble to keep his mouth clean.”  Sorry, but that is a total myth! Dogs need moisture to keep the pH balance in check. That moisture helps keep bacteria from sticking to the tooth surface. Eating dry kibble would be similar to you eating crackers to keep your mouth clean. Rather, a healthy diet of fresh cooked, human grade dog food, which is rich in nutrients and full of moisture, can go a long way in positively affecting your dog’s dental health.

Going under a general anesthetic for teeth cleaning should never be required on a regular basis.  My dogs are 7 and 11 and have never had to have this procedure. A little attention to brushing every day goes a long way, in addition to a healthy diet. You’ll have fewer vet bills too!

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Properly

Nothing cleans the teeth better than a good old-fashioned tooth brush or at least a finger covered in gauze to remove that bacterial layer. Feeding an appropriate moisture-rich food will help keep things in balance too. Diet contributes to a healthy oral condition.

So, start today. Be gentle and patient but help your dog to get used to having her mouth handled. Make it fun and light. Never be forceful or aggressive. Yes, this is important for her overall health and wellbeing, but your relationship is paramount. Building trust as you work around your dog is rewarding in more ways than one.

Brush teeth every day. Never use human toothpaste. I use an electric spin brush on my two angels, but they have been sensitized to tooth brushing since they were puppies. It is still never too late to start the process. You will be rewarded by a healthy dog, fresh breath and more of those sweet dog kisses.