Dogs with poor dental health may have stinky breath and will likely develop periodontal disease which is caused by an infection called plaque. Plaque is the sticky stuff on your dogs teeth that is made up of salvia, bits of food and bacteria. If this plaque isn't removed then it turns into tartar, that's the stuff that is super hard as it's calcified. Dental disease can lead to destruction of the supporting structures in the dogs mouth which eventually leads to tooth loss. The scariest thing is that periodontal disease can increase the risk of your dog developing heart disease.
OVER 85% OF DOGS OVER 4 YEARS OF AGE HAVE SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE!
So, how can you clean your dogs teeth? Often, not just 1 method will suffice and you will need to employ a variety of different methods to keep your dogs mouth healthy.
1. Feed Fresh Food When you reduce/eliminate high carbohydrate kibble from your dogs diet, you can reduce the stickiness in their mouths - kibble does NOT clean teeth unless it is a dental kibble. Fresh food contains good bacteria, digestive enzymes etc. all the things that contribute to good digestive health, including in the mouth which is the first part of the digestive system. Learn more about feeding a fresh food diet at our supportive Facebook community.
2. Feed Bones
This is such a taboo subject in Veterinary circles because Vets of course don't see all the thousands of dogs who consume bones without an issue, they see the the ones with dental trauma and lodged bones and understandably get nervous about them. A 2020 study called Evaluation of teeth injuries in Beagle dogs caused by autoclaved beef bones used as a chewing item to remove dental calculus - This study evaluated the impact of bone chewing on the dental roots, enamel, and gingiva of dogs. The outcome of the study was that they found that bones were highly effective for dental calculus removal and gingival inflammation reduction. Despite the hardness of bones, no lesions or teeth root and enamel fracture, or esophageal or intestinal obstructions complications related to bone ingestion were noted. Now, it is important to note that this study only lasted 14 days so the law of averages would generally point towards that over the lifetime of the dog eating 'dense' bones i.e. marrow bones that they could very well experience dental injury. The great news is, dense bones are not the only bones out there. I recommend dogs eat a variety of different bones because one bone may help the dog clean their back teeth by chewing, yet a different bone such as a sinewy bone like Roo Tail could help clean the front teeth. Supervision is the key to healthy bone consumption. Click here to read more about bones and see lots of examples of different bones you can include in your dogs diet. Fresh food fed dogs would be looking at consuming bones 4-7 times per week.
3. Brush your dogs teeth I use a soft human charcoal toothbrush and use coconut oil as the toothpaste to help the dog feel better about the experience. Take your time to get your dog used to the experience and do not brush hard. Some dogs will be fairly tolerant whereas other dogs will want to bite you for even thinking about it! Daily brushing will get you the best results but even just weekly could help.
4. Use My Doggie Weed My Doggie Weed sold by us here at The Balanced Canine is a specific species of seaweed that you add to your dogs meals, it changes the composition of salvia in your dogs mouth which can reduce the instance of build up and ca help break down current build up where an immediate dental is not required. For dogs needing immediate dentals, use My Doggie Weed post dental to prevent another dental. For best results, remove highly processed food from your dogs diet i.e. kibble.
5. Healthy Chews There's many highly processed 'chews' on the market that claim to clean teeth that aren't healthy, just looking at the ingredients label is enough to make you cringe. Nature provide some great chews such as carrots and apples! Dehydrated animal skin with fur attached can also help clean teeth - do not confuse this with rawhide which is a scary product made from the by-products of the leather industry! If you didn't know that, watch this.