We know it’s important to brush our own teeth every day, but what about your dog or cat? Our pets depend on us for just about everything, especially when it comes to their health. Dental health is especially important to maintain since tartar build-up can lead to serious infections which can spread throughout your pet’s body, causing potentially life-threatening damage to the heart and other internal organs. Unfortunately, dental health care is often overlooked by many pet parents. In fact, seventy-five percent of dogs and cats over the age of three have periodontal disease. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so we’ve put together some tips on dental care including a list of easy-to-use, effective dental products – all available at Petapoluza Pet Supply & Grooming in Seattle, Washington.
Do I Need To Brush My Pet’s Teeth?
Vets typically recommend you brush your pet’s teeth on a daily or weekly basis, in addition to having annual dental exams plus professional cleanings when recommended. It’s important to use toothpaste made especially for pets, since toothpaste for humans contains ingredients that can be toxic to your pet. At Petapoluza, we have toothpaste and brushes designed for your pet, including gentle finger toothbrushes which are great for sensitive pets or ones who won’t let you use a regular toothbrush.
For some great tips on how to brush your pet’s teeth, check out these articles by Banfield Pet Hospital:
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
What If I Can’t Brush?
Some pets may not let you brush their teeth effectively, or you simply may not have the time to do so regularly. In addition, tooth brushing alone is not always effective at preventing and removing plaque and tartar. The good news is there are a number of highly effective and easy to use dental products available to choose from, many of which can be given as treats or added to your pet’s food. While some of these are not intended to entirely replace tooth brushing, many of these products can still be highly effective when used alone.
Let Dental Powders Do The Work For You
There are several dental supplements that come in a powder form which can easily be sprinkled on your pet’s food. These are particularly great options for pets who have trouble chewing or won’t let you brush.
DentaTreat by Wysong is a cheese-flavored powder made from a scientifically-based blend of cheeses, probiotics and minerals which helps prevent gingivitis, bacteria growth and tooth decay. It even helps to re-mineralize teeth. Many pets love DentaTreat, and it’s a particularly great product for cats since it’s very non-invasive. It can be given alone as a treat, sprinkled on your pet’s food, or used with a toothbrush.
SeaDent by Animal’s Apawthecary is a kelp-based powder. Kelp is scientifically proven to help eliminate the bacteria which causes plaque, preventing build-up. SeaDent also contains digestive enzymes which break down food particles trapped in between teeth. Although marketed for dogs, some people do use this product for cats as well. However, because of the high iodine content in this product, it is not recommended that you use this product if your pet has or is at risk for developing thyroid problems (which cats are especially prone to).
We recommend you introduce dental powders slowly and in very small amounts, so your pet can get used to the taste.
Easy-To-Use Dental Gels
PetzLife Oral Care Gel is salmon-flavored and designed to be applied directly to your dog or cat’s teeth and gums, but brushing is not required. Petzlife is a particularly great solution for pets who won’t let you in their mouths, especially cats, because you can put a small amount on your pet’s paw and they will typically lick it off. In doing so, they apply it to their own mouths! Petzlife gel is made from oils of grapefruit seed, thyme, neem and peppermint to combat plaque, tartar, bacteria and bad breath.
Chewing for Dental Health
The action of chewing naturally helps remove plaque from the teeth of dogs and cats. However, it is a myth that dry pet food helps clean teeth. There are several reasons why this is true, including the fact that most pets don’t effectively chew their food, and that kibble is full of carbohydrates which dental bacteria feed upon. When it comes to products that clean your pet’s teeth through chewing, we recommend raw bones, pliable dental chews made from quality ingredients, or Snook’s Tooth Oil.
Raw Bones: Nature’s Toothbrush
Dogs and cats are carnivorous animals whose wild (and not-so-distant) ancestors kept their teeth and gums healthy by chewing on the raw bones of their prey. The chewing action combined with the naturally occurring digestive enzymes in raw bones is highly effective at controlling bacteria, plaque and tartar. At Petapoluza we carry raw beef and buffalo bones which are an ideal dental solution for many dogs. If you have a cat, small dog, or a dog with more sensitive teeth, raw chicken or duck necks are typically a better choice since they are smaller and softer than other raw bones.
PLEASE NOTE: It is imperative that you never give your dog COOKED bones, as cooked bones splinter and can result in a trip to the emergency room or worse. However, raw bones are suitable for most dogs, but as always, consult your veterinarian to see if they are a good choice for your pet. Also, it is important to always supervise your pet when they chew on bones or other dental chews to make sure they don’t swallow large chunks, especially if your pet is young or an aggressive chewer.
Other Dental Chews
One of our favorite “man-made” dental chews is Brushless Toothpaste by Ark Naturals. Brushless Toothpaste treats are pliable, digestible dental chews with a natural toothpaste center plus outside ridges which help loosen plaque. Brushless Toothpaste also helps freshen breath, and most dogs love the taste. These dental chews come in several sizes so you can get the size appropriate for your dog. The mini ones can also be given to cats that enjoy chewy treats.
Snook’s Tooth Oil is another great dental solution for dogs who love to chew. The tooth oil is made from food grade myrrh extract and essential oils of anise, spearmint, clove and vitamin E blended in a vegetable glycerin base. To use it, you apply the oil to your dog’s teeth and gums with a dog toothbrush, finger toothbrush or cotton ball. Then give your dog something hard to chew on, such as Snook’s sweet potato rope chews. The chewing helps scrape off the plaque which is softened by the tooth oil. The oil also helps freshen breath.
But…I’ve Done Nothing for My Pet’s Dental Health So Far, And They Seem Fine. Why Start Now?
We hear this from many pet parents. Brushing your pet’s teeth may seem like a hassle, and dental supplements cost money. However, it’s a much bigger hassle and much more costly dealing with periodontal disease, dental surgery, heart disease or other major health problems which can be prevented by regular dental care. You would never imagine going weeks or years without brushing your own teeth, so why would you let your pet’s teeth go?
If you haven’t already, now is the time to take charge of your pet’s dental health. All products mentioned in this article are available at Petapoluza, as well as many others. Stop in and let us help you find what works best for you, your lifestyle, and your pet!