Bad Doggie Breath isn’t just offensive, it is a serious health problem. Dogs can have the same dental problems as people, such as periodontal disease or broken teeth. Periodontal disease causes inflammation in the pockets which leads to bone loss around the tooth. These pockets become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Every time a pet with periodontal disease chews, the infected gums inject bacteria into the bloodstream, which weakens the immune system and puts extra wear and tear on the internal organs, especially the kidneys and heart.

The good news is that routine oral care can save your pet unnecessary pain, will save you money, your pet will live longer and smell fresher. You want your dog’s teeth to look nice and white with no tartar, and for your dog’s gums to be healthy and pink.

One good way to help reduce tartar in your pet’s mouth is to take advantage of their natural inclination to chew, as the mechanical action of chewing actually acts like a natural toothbrush scrubbing the teeth. Bully sticks, dentasticks and other chews come in a variety of sizes for every mouth. There are also specially formulated dental chews available for dogs and cats from your veterinarian that are clinically proven to reduce tartar.

Tips for cleaning your dog’s teeth

Another good and easy way to reduce tartar build-up is to use a dental additive, also available from your veterinarian. These additives contain zinc gluconate,  a compound which inhibits plaque and tartar formation.  Simply pour a small amount in your pet’s drinking water – this is known to decrease plaque by about 25%.  There are also oral hygiene sprays and dental wipes available through your veterinarian that contain chlorhexidine which kills the bacteria that causes plaque.  Simple wipe the outside of your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week to reduce plaque and remember, it takes 72 hours for plaque to turn into tartar.

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth. Even if you brush only once or twice a week, brushing will go a long way in reducing plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Ideally you would brush every day, but a very small percentage of pet parents actually do this. The key is to use an enzymatic toothpaste that is formulated for pets because unlike people, they swallow their toothpaste.  Do NOT use human toothpaste.

Pet toothpaste has flavors pets love, like chicken, liver, or beef. To get your pet used to having her teeth brushed, start out slow, maybe just by letting your pet lick the toothpaste off your finger or the brush. You can also rub the toothpaste on your dog’s teeth, and then, if your pet is comfortable, use the brush.  This process can take several days to get your pet comfortable – so go slow, and give lots of praise (Good dog!). If you have a small pet, using a finger brush or a human baby brush might be a good option.

I like to follow up brushing sessions with a Life’s Abundance Gourmet Dental Treat. These treats are formulated with high quality proteins, whole oat grains, calcium and phosphorus for healthy teeth and gums, and contain parsley to freshen the breath, and Alma loves them. By giving your dog or cat daily oral care, your pet is going to have fresh breath, healthy gums, live longer, and you will show them how much you love them.