Our pets have lots of teeth and how to help them keep these pearly while can be a challenge. At Full Circle, Drs. Bishop, Fisher and McPherson regularly diagnose dental disease and during regular dental cleanings, find calculus below the gum line and periodontal disease in many patients. Repeated studies have shown that brushing three times a week is the most effective way to improve your cat or dog’s dental health; however, there are some natural dental care aids you can incorporate to do an even better job at preventative dental care.
Chewing is the most natural way to stimulate saliva, abrade the tooth surface to remove plaque and exercise the periodontal ligaments. When wild animals eat prey they must chew and frequently gnaw on raw bones . While one might think this would give wild dogs great dental health a study of African wild dogs showed that they had the same types of periodontal disease as domestic dogs and that they had many fractures. This is quite strong evidence that a “natural, raw or whole” food diet is not the complete answer for good dental health. Slab fractures of the large upper cheek teeth are common in dogs that chew bones or other very hard substances like rocks, antlers, or even very tough chew toys. If you do give raw bones to your dog to chew, please give large bones for gnawing and replace the bone frequently to reduce the risk of ingesting a piece that could cause gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Judy Rochette, a board certified veterinary dental specialist suggests using cancellous bones such as necks and backs which may cause fewer fractures and result in fewer gastrointestinal problems. The picture is from www.totallyrawdogfood.com, a local source of this kind of bone.
Never use cooked bones as these splinter and can easily cause perforations of the intestines. Fibrous chew toys like knotted ropes can help exercise the mouth and may provide some “flossing” like action. Great care should be used here as unsupervised chewing has led to severe gastrointestinal obstruction which has even led to death. Safer chewing can be had by using raw or green tripe which is tough but digestible and also contains micronutrients and many probiotic organisms. Overcooked squid heads are also very rubbery and squeak when chewed which makes a great toy as well as dental aid! Squid can also be a great choice for dogs with allergies.
Probiotics like Lactobacillus have shown great promise in reducing dental disease. The mineral zinc also improves dental health. The product Nature’s Dentist ™ (http://www.trinatural.com/supplements-mcintosh-dentist.php) which contains probiotics and zinc supplementation is also available at Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives in Dartmouth should help reduce the number of bacterial organisms able to inflame gums and contribute to calculus formation.
Leba 3 is another product containing Rose and Mint, that will reduce the calculus you see above the gum line and give your dog a whiter smile. It contains isopropyl alcohol which may be have some long term toxic effects and should definitely not be used with liver, pancreatic, or kidney disease. Unfortunately, it does not help with periodontal or gum disease that many be present. Full Circle carries an excellent oral supplement made of natural ingredients that even has endorsement from the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council).
Healthy Mouth™ is added to your pet’s drinking water. Clinical trials have demonstrated a greater that 70% reduction in plaque formation in animals using this product. The ingredients in Healthy Mouth are: Papain , a plant enzyme; Yucca, a natural cleansing agent; Cinnamon, an anti-oxidant and antibacterial agent; Pomegranate, an antibacterial; Blueberry, a potent antioxidant; Cloves, an anti-bacterial and analagesic agent, Chlorophyll, a cleanser and deodorizer, Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant and Vitamin B2, another anti-oxidant agent. Healthy Mouth can also be purchased in a gel form which can be applied to gums directly. At Full Vets we strongly recommend regular dental evaluations, cleaning and radiography as needed and the use of natural aids to improving your pets smile!
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Oral and dental conditions in adult African wild dog skulls: a preliminary report
J Vet Dent. June 1999;16(2):65-8.
G Steenkamp1; C Gorrel
1Dept. of Surgery (Dental Clinic), Onderstepoort Vet Faculty, University of Pretorta, South Africa.
Salivary mutans streptococci and lactobacilli levels after ingestion of the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 by straws or tablets
2006, Vol. 64, No. 5 , Pages 314-318 (doi:10.1080/00016350600801709)
1Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Dental School, Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey
2Department of Odontology, Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
3Department of Cariology and Endodontics, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark