How important is your dog’s oral hygiene to his overall health? The answer is that it's VERY important! In fact, dental disease in dogs is a common problem and if you don’t maintain your dog’s oral health, it can have a direct impact on your dog’s vital organs like his heart, kidneys, liver and digestive system.
Most pet parents should brush their dogs’ teeth. In fact, some dogs need it more than others. Whether it’s due to their genes, diet, chewing habits, and/or the chemical composition of their saliva, some will live their entire lives with clean, white teeth and healthy gums with absolutely no effort put forth by their owners, while others may develop plaque/tartar at an alarming rate.
A buildup of plaque is not just unsightly, it’s unhealthy. Tartar buildup at and under the gum line enables bacteria to enter under the gums. Most dogs who have bad breath also have gingivitis (swollen and inflamed gums), usually bright red or purple, which bleed easily. If ignored, these bacterial infections in the gums slowly destroy the ligament and bony structures that support the teeth. Because the gums have a lot of blood supply, infections in the mouth can also poison the dog systemically, potentially causing disease of the heart, kidneys, liver and digestive system.
Aside from the fact that a healthy mouth is good for your dog’s overall health, there’s another strong incentive to keep your dog’s mouth healthy...you’ll avoid having to put him through dental cleanings under anesthesia. It’s expensive, risky and it shouldn’t be necessary if you take a few simple steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.
With patience and persistence, most dogs can be taught to tolerate and even enjoy daily tooth brushing. The secret is to progress very gradually, allowing your dog to adapt at his own pace. Start with a gauze-wrapped finger versus a toothbrush, and lightly massage the very front teeth. Praise often, keeping sessions short. Add a bit of organically flavored, fluoride-free toothpaste, coconut oil, or a homemade toothpaste (see recipe below) to make each session seem like a yummy treat. Experiment with different flavors to see which one your pet likes best. Progress back toward molars over time. Then, once your pup seems fully comfortable, switch to a child-sized brush, finger brush or even an electric toothbrush if your dog will tolerate it!
There are several pet-formulated products designed to help dissolve plaque on their own, although you can use them in conjunction with brushing if you’d like. Petzlife
is one product we’ve tried with excellent success. These tasty gel and spray-on formulas are made with natural ingredients that include pure distilled water, grapefruit seed extract, thyme and peppermint oils. They also contain neem, which has proven antifungal and antiseptic qualities.
Additional Tips To Maintain Your Dog’s Dental Health:
Feed a Raw Diet. Dogs fed a natural diet with chewy muscle meat as well as raw meaty bones and recreational bones usually have healthy mouth. Natural diets provide the right habitat for your dog’s healthy oral microbiome. Natural live enzymes and “good” bacteria help prevent tartar build up.
Give Your Dog a "Raw" Bone
Raw bones not only taste good and are fun to chew, but the process of gnawing on them stimulates the gums, exercises the jawbone — and yes, removes tartar from the teeth! A good raw bone will provide your dog with hours of pleasure and help ensure his dental health. However, you need to make sure you give the RIGHT type of bone, as the the wrong type of bone can result in a variety of problems The one thing to remember is to NEVER give cooked bones...the most dangerous bones are those that can splinter and/or be swallowed, like any cooked chicken and turkey bones, or cooked bones from steaks, cuts of lamb, veal, beef and pork.
For a guide to feeding raw bones click here: Perfectly Rawsome
Give A Daily Probiotic Supplement
Probiotic supplements can help create a healthy bacterial environment in your dog’s mouth. You can buy a probiotic specifically made for dogs. Goat's milk is a great alternative!
Feed Bone Broth
Make bone broth for your dog and feed it several times a week. It’s chock-full of minerals that really help strengthen teeth and gums.
Coconut Oil For Gums
Coconut oil is antibacterial and is excellent for gums. You can use it to brush your dog’s teeth and gums instead of toothpaste. Make sure your coconut oil is organic, cold-pressed and unrefined.
STAGES OF DENTAL DECAY AND GINGIVITIS
Do your dog’s teeth and gums look like pic #1, with pearly white teeth and healthy, pink gums? Or like pic #2, with a bit of tartar and gum inflammation, maybe some bad breath? Or (hopefully not) like this severely neglected dog in pic #3, with heavy tartar, rotten teeth and gum disease? This dog is likely to feel chronically ill from all of the bacteria.
Twenty years ago, Cheryl began her self-taught study into the world of natural, raw diets, supplements, the truth about vaccinations and a holistic lifestyle for dogs.
"I was truly very lucky to have found such a great caregiver and friend for my dogs!"
"Every single potential client who finds Cheryl via this website has hit the doggy heaven jackpot!!"
The decision to hire a dog walker was a very difficult one for me. I have 2 high energy dogs that are also somewhat timid around new people. When Cheryl came to meet Roscoe & Daisy she was patient, waiting for them to meet her at their pace, nice and slow and thought out. Now they can't wait to see her! Cheryl shows a genuine love and caring for my furbabies. The one hour a day she spends with them provides them with the exercise, love and mental stimulation they need to maintain their inner peace. She even leaves journal entries on their daily escapades!!!! (I always read their journal the minute I get home from work.) Cheryl always is there when she is scheduled and has always accommodated the impromptu visit when needed. I was truly very lucky to have found such a great caregiver and friend for my dogs! Thank you for all you do Cheryl!
~Barbara & Steve B, Ringwood, NJ
Every single potential client who finds Cheryl via this website has hit the doggy heaven jackpot!! Cheryl is Fozzi and Silver's bestie. They literally jump for joy when they see her coming in. I know this because even though I work long hours, I still have Cheryl come by when I am home because my doggies love her so much. I just moved to the area and was so fortunate to be introduced to Cheryl within the first month. I am at peace knowing that Fozzi and Silver get some love and attention midday each day. Fozzi and Silver also stay at Cheryl's home when our family vacations. They LOVE hanging with their buddy Jack and sleeping in Cheryl's bed at night. The personal attention they get lets my family enjoy themselves when we're gone instead of worrying about our doggies. I wouldn't use ANYONE but Cheryl!
~Lauren and Ted K, Ridgewood, NJ