February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Now is a good time to think about your k-9's k-9s (you see what we've done there?)
A stinky mouth not only affects the frequency of those kissing sessions your dog is so serious about but also their confidence and ability to attract a suitor. Seriously, dental health is a bigger and more serious issue than you may think. Roughly 70-80 percent of cats and dogs develop periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. You might be thinking "So what? Dogs are supposed to have doggy breath," but here's what - poor oral hygiene is also linked to shorter life span. Yikes.
Raw meaty bones are an excellent and delicious way to keep your dogs mouth healthy, not to mention keep him occupied while you dive into that pile of laundry that you've been meaning to do for days. Bones have been a staple food for dogs for centuries but most dogs these days rarely get a real raw bone, probably because people are concerned over bacteria. But when was the last time you came home to find your dog standing at the stove with a spatula? Dogs don’t cook their food in the wild; with shorter digestive tracts than humans, their bodies are made to digest raw food. As long as you the owner practice safe food handling you should feel really good about tossing Rover a bone. In addition to the nutrition, raw meaty bones help develop strong muscles as they pull and tear the meat off the bone and keeps the dog mentally stimulated, chewing the bone rather than your favorite pair of shoes. The chewing of the bone after the meat is gone cleans away tartar and freshens breath - nature's toothbrush! Plus your dog will LOVE bone day and it’s way cheaper than dental surgery!
If you are still unsure about raw bones or think you may have difficulty dealing with the mess (although it isn't that messy! Just teach your buddy to stay on his bone mat or towel and then wash it, no big deal), start making tooth brushing part of the quality time you spend with your dog. Starting regular tooth brushing can be challenging with an older animal that is not used to it but if you are consistent and help your dog make positive associations with brushing (read, lots of treats) he will eventually thank you for it. Here is a link to a video where Dr. Sheldon Rubin shows you how to get your pet used to the idea of oral hygiene. I bet this would work on kids too.
If you are still having trouble getting your dog to readily accept the toothbrush there are some products that can help with the tartar build up. Tartar Buster bones are a smoked patella that is crunchy and scrapes away at the plaque while your pup looks at you with gratitude for dropping the brush. Nature's Dentist is a pro-biotic that you add to your pet's food. It works by introducing good bacteria that helps to combat the bad bacteria that causes plaque and tartar build up - it's really a great product.
If you do notice any of these symptoms it may be time for a dental check up.
- abnormally bad breath.
- difficulty chewing and eating
-the color of gums change to red.
- intestinal and stomach upset due to the presence of bacteria.
- teeth have become loose or fall out.
- pawing at the mouth.
- sudden and abrupt changes in the dogs behavior. Many tend to be nervous or depressed.
Do check inside your dog's mouth regularly and try to prevent gum disease as much as you can. You know the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a bazillion dollars in vet bills," or something like that, right?