Did you know that estimates suggest that most dogs show signs of periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by age 3! It’s true. And since the primary sign of gum disease is bad breath, most pet parents don’t even consider it because bad breath is often considered a “normal” dog thing.
But when it comes to canine oral health, and if the mouth is healthy, there’s far more to it than just dog breath. Overall health can be impacted, so it’s important to be paying regular attention to those pearly whites.
The Impact of Canine Oral Health on Overall Health
If you don’t get on top of dental disease, it can cause mouth pain and tooth loss, which can be painful. Your dog may visibly show signs of pain, such as crying, rubbing their face, or not eating. Irritability and lethargy may be other signs. Other times they may not give you any indication that anything is wrong, so you just have to pay attention and be proactive.
If left to get worse over time, dental disease can also work its way to many other areas of the most. This can include problems like:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Cancer risks
That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to canine oral health and do all you can for prevention and care.
An Ounce of Prevention
Early signs of dental disease in dogs include bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on the teeth, and red and swollen gums. As mentioned, it gets worse over time if left alone and not addressed, so you want to catch it as soon as it starts.
Better yet, let’s try to prevent it before it even starts!
There are several things you can do to help prevent dental disease and boost canine oral health.
- Brush Your Dog’s Teeth. This is kind of a no-brainer. Taking the time once a week or so to get in your dog’s mouth and clear off some of the plaque can greatly reduce tartar build up. Get a fingertip toothbrush or even just a piece of gauze, and get right in there. Be gentle, and take breaks if your pet gets stressed. For toothpaste, we recommend using something like coconut oil (or coconut oil mixed with a probiotic powder) for minimal abrasion but good antibacterial, antimicrobial power.
We make our own toothpaste using, as mentioned, coconut oil, and Love Bugs pre and probiotic from Adored Beast Apothecary:
– Small Dog (or Cat) – mix together 1 tsp of coconut oil and 1/16 tsp of Love Bugs
– Large Dog – you may need more, up to a tablespoon
- Pay Attention to Diet. A healthy diet is just as important for canine oral health as it is for overall health. The healthier the animal, the better the immune system, and the less infection will develop. Contrary to popular belief, kibble doesn’t clean the teeth. There just isn’t enough friction in commercial kibble to have any impact on oral health. Instead, a meat-based diet is essential as meat helps maintain a healthier mouth environment.
- Protect with Probiotics. Probiotics are healthy, friendly bacteria that help support the immune system and good gut health. They also help create a healthy bacterial environment in your dog’s mouth, combating the bad bacteria that can cause gum disease and contribute to plaque and tartar buildup. It’s why we use Love Bugs in our toothpaste.
- Reach for the Raw Bones. Chewing on raw meaty bones is nutritious and good for your dog’s teeth and gums. Raw bones act like floss in the mouth, polishing and scraping away tartar as your dog crunches and gnaws. Additionally, any raw meat on those bones contributes to an acidic environment in the mouth, which can help stop plaque formation and freshen your dog’s breath! Go for a turkey neck rather than a weight bearing bone, and remember, never feed cooked bones!
With a little care and attention to canine oral care, you can keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Regular brushings, the best nutrition, and a good chew will help maintain good dental health.