By Dr. Andrew Jones
Your dog’s teeth, and their care are vital in terms of keeping your dog healthy and preventing disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is the number one diagnosed problem in dogs; by the age of three, 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. Lack of healthy teeth and gums can lead to heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, stroke and even diabetes. In this article I will cover the dog teeth anatomy, the causes of dental disease, and the most important natural solutions to keeping your dogs teeth and gums healthy at home.
Dog‘s start with deciduous (baby) teeth- similar to people. The teeth first erupt between the third and sixth weeks- at four months the puppies start to lose these baby teeth, and gain the full number of 42 adult teeth by the ages of 6-7 months. Some dogs have baby teeth that don’t fall out ( retained), and these can be extracted in a simple procedure by your veterinarian during the spay or neuter at 6-7 months.
Most dental problems happen after the adult teeth have formed. Plaque, a thin coat of bacteria, accumulates on the teeth, then it progresses to tartar, leading to gum inflammation. Bacteria also grows under the gum-line, causing gum infection (gingivitis) which can lead to tooth loss if not treated. Other dental problems include broken teeth, which can show as being painful to chew. Tooth root abscess are infections which form at the tooth root; they can cause swelling under the eye.
The signs of dental disease in your dog are similar to people. These include bad breath ( halitosis), reluctance to chew, redness at the gum line and visible tartar on the teeth. In advanced periodontal disease the teeth are loose, and may even fall out. Some dogs may be ill and quite sick if the bacteria from the mouth has spread to other organs, such as the heart or liver.
The big question then is what can you do? Fortunately there are many things, and I want to give you my most effective natural remedies.
Dental Diet. Ensure that your dog eats a dry kibble with larger pieces that have to be chewed. Some food companies now produce specific dental diets which will lower tartar buildup. They are more abrasive on the teeth and some contain an enzyme which lowers tartar formation. These foods are available at your local veterinarian.
Natural Diets. Raw meaty bones and windpipes from cows or pigs can help keep teeth clean. If your dog splinters and swallows large pieces of bone, he is at risk of obstruction, so do not give him bones. Some dogs love chicken necks. To rule out the risk of Salmonella (a bacterial infection), put the bones or windpipes in boiling water for 30 seconds first.
Healthy Treats. Raw vegetables, such as carrots are a great, low calorie treat that can help clean the teeth. If your dog likes them, then feed away.
Brush. The best way to keep your pet’s teeth clean is by brushing. Ideally this should be done daily, but twice a week is a good goal. Begin by rubbing your finger around your pet’s mouth. Flavor it with tuna to make it enticing for your dog. A finger toothbrush can be used (it fits around the end of your finger). Use pet toothpaste, for if swallowed it will not upset your pet’s stomach. Baking soda is another safe natural toothpaste. The electric toothbrushes are very effective and the long neck helps you get to the back premolars.
Vitamin C is used by many alternative practitioners for dental disease. It is an immune stimulant and helps the production of normal gum and teeth tissue. The starting cat dose is 100 mg daily. The starting dog dose is 100 mg per 10 lbs daily. If your pet gets diarrhea, lower the dose.
Plaque Off. This is a completely natural product which is suitable for dogs. It is a special type of seaweed which has been found to have specific beneficial effects for oral care. It comes in a granulated form which is easily added to food every day. It is rich in natural iodine and contains important vitamins and minerals and is free from artificial colors, preservatives, gluten and sugar
There are two herbs that can help your dog’s teeth. Calendula lotion can be used to heal ulcers in the mouth and promote healing of damaged tissue. Chamomilia can be used to decrease puppy and kitten chewing, alleviating some of the signs of teething pain. Myrrh can be mixed with water and applied topically to the inflamed gum tissue to decrease gum inflammation.
Now you should be able to understand the importance of keeping your dog’s teeth healthy, and recognize the signs and symptoms of dental disease in your dog. If you see red gums, visible tartar, bad breath or reluctance to chew, then your dog likely has periodontal disease. There are many things you can be doing to prevent and natural treat your dog’s teeth problems; the most important remedies include, specific diets, brushing, the use of supplements, and certain herbs for gum inflammation.
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
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