Diet Can Promote or Hinder a Healthier Dog Smile
Something we don’t often think about when addressing tartar control are doggy diets. Similar to humans, what dogs eat, will have an effect on the health of their smiles. If there are a lot of preservatives, sugar, or fillers, these can stick to teeth, causing buildup. And as we know, buildup can lead to smelly breath, gum disease, and decay. Poor nutrition and some dog foods can also dampen canine health by causing digestive troubles. Commercial dog food can be difficult for dogs to digest as well as causing a diminished immune system. This can also lead to poor dental health. EcoEats is the closest we can get to a whole food diet, without the expense of all those nutritious groceries and the work of massive daily meal prep projects. Instead, simply add a protein and some water. Plus, dogs love the taste. Give it a try.
Brushing For A Healthier Dog SmileHumans brush multiple times a day, but what’s best for our pups? Sometimes people misunderstand dental hygiene for animals as something that isn’t needed because they don’t brush their teeth in the wild. The truth is, they also don’t eat the same diets in the wild. There are no cooked foods, commercial dog foods with fillers and preservatives, and treats. There are many reasons domestic animals require regular brushing, but their diet is the number one reason. Brushing helps to remove biofilm and plaque that builds up in the mouth from bacteria. Most veterinarians recommend weekly brushings, and a few even recommend a daily swipe at their teeth and gums. The beginning is always the hard part, so here are a few steps to acclimate our fur-babies to brushing, and to make it fun.
- Begin by getting them used to hands, first. We can gently rub their mouth and lips for just a few minutes a day, 3-5 days in a row. Make it a game and offer a healthful treat.
- Get them used to the feel of a dog-approved toothbrush for a few minutes a day, over the next 3-5 days. Let them sniff it, play with it along their muzzle and briefly along their teeth.
- Add some vet-approved toothpaste to the game. There are many out there with flavors or textures, so finding something they won’t eat, but also won’t hate, can be a fun way to help them enjoy the experience.
- Gently brush their teeth. Focus on the front and don’t worry about being really thorough in the beginning. Remember to offer their favorite veggie or nutritious treat afterward, so there is always a reward for good behavior.
Treats Mean A Happier AND Healthier Dog SmileThere are so many treats out there; it can be hard to decide on something. Not to mention, our canine companions have their own ideas about what tastes good and what they may want to gnaw on for their evening snack. Among all the choices, there are dental-friendly canine chews that promote healthy teeth and gums. The most important thing to remember is that dental cleaning chews do not replace the need to brush. Even with the recommended 30 minutes a day of chewing, they aren’t going to get as thorough a cleaning as they need from us. But chews are a great way to encourage better hygiene, so go for the long-lasting toys, like rubber or nylon. Rawhide and knucklebone are also great for scraping teeth. Supervise and remove treats that become a choking hazard. Also, choose safe treats that are veterinarian recommended and have a good track record. Some brands are known for dental benefits, but also cause dangerous and painful intestinal blockages in some breeds. Be sure to look up the brand and do a little research prior to handing over a treat.
Monthly Check-ups & Yearly Vet Screenings to Monitor Healthy Dog Smiles
A brief monthly checkup between you and your dog are a great way to check for buildup and bad breath. If our fur baby has discoloration or stinky breath, it could be diet, treats, or dental hygiene. Adjust the brushing routine to cover areas that may not be getting the attention they need. We can also make note of anything we want the vet to pay attention to at the yearly screening. Yearly vet screenings are included in the yearly healthy dog check-up. This brief visit can reveal so much and should never be skipped. We should remember to ask the vet to check any discoloration, make note of any wear, and examine any bleeding or puffy gums or other concerns. They’ll also check for cracked or broken teeth, swollen lymph nodes, and masses that should be investigated further.
Fun Fact: Dogs don’t need floss. They have 42 teeth that are placed close together so food particles will have limited access. However, a little floss to help get right to the gum line where toothbrushes can’t reach, it something to try, if Fido can warm up to the idea.