February is Pet Dental Month

Everyone is familiar with the importance of dental hygiene in our own lives. We brush our teeth after every meal, we floss, we rinse, we whiten. Tartar and plaque from leftover food cause bad breath, gingivitis, and tooth decay and we do everything in our power to avoid a stern lecture from our dentist at our bi-annual appointment. But what about our pets?

All kibble-fed dogs and cats experience tartar build up. Even high quality, grain-free kibble contains binding agents which hold the kibble together. These sticky ingredients encourage plaque growth, which leads to tartar and bad breath.

Many make the costly mistake of allowing their dog or cat’s tartar to build to the point where it can only be removed under anesthesia, by the veterinarian. Unfortunately, this does nothing for the gingivitis that plagues our companion animals. Unsightly red, swollen gums and bad breath are symptomatic of gingivitis and result from inadequate stimulation and bacterial infection of the gums due to insufficient chewing. Without the frequent opportunity to chew, the gums become inflamed. Since chewing not only stimulates the gums, but physically removes the plaque it does double duty in preventing gingivitis. Letting this disease go unchecked can cause cardiovascular problems later on.

Other valiant souls make the commendable effort of brushing their pet’s teeth after every meal. With practice, and patience, and lots of treats some dogs and cats tolerate and even enjoy this addition to their daily routine. Enzymatic deliciously flavored toothpastes and specially designed finger or long handled toothbrushes facilitate this process. However, other cases will fight their well-meaning owner tooth and nail to avoid this invasive procedure.

Fortunately, the solution is as affordable and easy as giving your dog or cat a bone. Toys and treats that boast dental benefits are an easy way to maintain good hygiene. Dental Nylabones, Himalayan dog chews, bully sticks, hooves, and sweet potato chews are great options for canines, while crunchy grain free treats are effective for felines. Avoiding such treats containing sugars and grains, which can add to plaque build-up, is even more effective.

The absolute best method to guarantee that your beloved dog or cat has perfect dental health is to pair a high quality, grain-free or raw diet, with a weekly raw meaty bone. Raw meaty bones provide the flossing and scraping action necessary for gum stimulation and plaque removal. They come in sizes suitable for any dog and cat and are almost universally appreciated. Any wild or feral relative to our domestic pets possess beautiful teeth and gums, a true testament to the efficacy of raw bones.

Article by Jenny Cournoyer
Jenny is an employee at Maggie’s and a graduate of UMASS Amherst, she has studied Pre-vet and Animal Science and is very knowledgeable about pet care and nutrition.

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