Oral disease can adversely impact ocular health in several ways, and the bacteria in the mouth can affect the heart, kidneys and more. We need to make oral health a priority, but let's not kid ourselves - there's a very big genetic component to dental health. Crowded mouths, teeth that are at imperfect angles, the microbiome – they all matter. Some dogs can eat a raw diet including bones and still have tartar while others have great teeth on the same diet.
Some dogs eat a cooked diet and have pearly whites, others not so much. White teeth don't tell the whole story though. The teeth can look great even when their roots are in trouble. We encourage you to have your dog's teeth /mouth checked out by a veterinarian who can take dental x-rays especially if you decide to give bones to a dog that has teeth with a lot of tartar.
If your dog's teeth have lots of tartar, then the roots of those teeth can be weakened due to the gums being inflamed. Gum pockets are perfect places for debris and more bacterial growth which causes havoc for the roots and gums themselves. Giving a hard bone and expecting those roots and weakened teeth to stay in place is risky. The slab fractures that happen are very often due to this scenario. Best bet: have the teeth cleaned professionally and if you decide to feed bones, do it afterward for prevention rather than as a cure for plaque and gingivitis.
Options (other than bones) to promote oral health:
- Stop feeding peanut butter already! Not only is it loaded with calories with no nutrition but it's sticky and coats the teeth. Try replacing some if not all of it with yogurt. Bonus – probiotics!
- Brush teeth. We know. We're not fans of it either, but it works. Find flavored toothpaste your dog loves the taste of and it gets easier. If you can't get the entire mouth done in one sitting, aim for half of it daily. Even one quadrant per day is worthwhile.
- Water additives. Not sure we love them. I used to use them and thought they worked somewhat but not nearly enough. My dog's dentist used to like them when they first came out but isn't thrilled now having seen the results over several years. The brand doesn't seem to make much difference.
- Kelp products. There are too many to list and they're all the same even though the name changes according to the company/private label. Plaque Off is an example. Some people say it works and others don't see a change. They can contain varying levels of iodine (heavy metals?) and since these things aren't tested regularly if at all, I'm not a fan. I tried a few of them including the Rx one from the dentist because Hudson's oral health was really bad when he first arrived here. None of them did much.
- CoQ10 and acidophilus. I've written about this before and still use them for Hudson- clients have also seen good results. Catholic University Leuven, Research Group for Microbial Adhesion, Department of Periodontology reports a study that looked at probiotics for a rather novel use. Because of the resemblance between the microbia of the gastro-intestinal tract and periodontal disease, they wondered if the application of probiotics, as an adjunct to scaling and root planing, would inhibit the periodontopathogen recolonization of periodontal pockets. In a beagle dog model, the recolonization of pathogens was delayed and reduced. In fact, the degree of inflammation was also reduced at a significant level.
- Application: put a little acidophilus (plain powder; I use the one on my site) on a plate, dab my finger in water followed by acidophilus and rub it along the gum line pushing upward just a bit (pretending to pack it in the gum pocket area). I do this 4-5 x weekly.
- CoQ10 is helpful for gum health. Hudson gets 15 mg (the dry version) in his food daily and I started rubbing it on his gums twice weekly as well.
- Toys: Rope toys can work as floss. Dental Kongs and the like are great if the food being used isn't gooey and sticks to teeth.
Acidophilus $16.99 Reg $18.99 Save $2 per bottle - Maximum 4 bottles per order
CoQ10: $21.99 Reg $21.99 Save $2 per bottle - Maximum 6 bottles per order
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