By Kim Carlson
Taking care of my dog Tito’s teeth sometimes seems like a chore. But it’s worth it: There is nothing worse than wanting to cuddle with your furry friend and being repelled by canine or feline “howl-itosis.”
Pets fall prey to the same dental problems humans have—gum disease, plaque and tartar, gingivitis, infection, loss of teeth, and bad breath. If we don’t tend to their oral hygiene, pets may need procedures that carry a risk. Regular dental care not only prevents these troubles, it can even extend your pet’s life by 20 percent!
Here are some ways to keep your pet’s mouth smile-worthy:
• Feed your pet all-natural kibble (or dry) food. Its abrasiveness helps remove tartar and plaque. Look for human-quality food, which means there are no chemical additives or preservatives and no animal by-products. It may be more expensive, but it will keep your pet and his teeth healthier in the long run.
• Brush your pet’s teeth every day. It may seem odd, but it’s the best way to prevent dental problems. Use a natural soft-bristled brush and non-toxic toothpaste. If your cat or dog bucks the brush, let him chew on it first. Triple Pet has developed a toothbrush with three flexible heads that stays on the teeth more easily than a human toothbrush would. The company also makes vanilla-flavored natural toothpaste with a tartar-control formula and tree tea oil for healthy gums.
• Try products like Dentatreat, a tooth-cleaning powder that can be sprinkled directly onto food or used with a toothbrush. Dentatreat helps prevent tooth decay and gingivitis by discouraging the growth of bacteria that cause plaque and bad breath. It is made entirely of safe, natural food ingredients.
• Seek out treats like raw bones and chew sticks for dogs that also help keep tartar away. The Flossie, which is made from a beef tendon, has a funky curlicue design that creates a chewing friction against the teeth. It comes in two sizes to suit your dog’s choppers—6 to 8 inches or 10 to 11 inches.
• Remember that if your pet develops chronic bad breath, there might be a problem in her digestive system or mouth. So take a trip to your veterinarian to check it out. If it’s just a case of occasional halitosis, try Bowser Herbal Breath Drops made with a blend of breath-freshening herbs and an extract of Champignon mushrooms—the kind used in human food! Bowser drops will have your pet’s breath bearable again in no time.
• Check regularly for tooth or gum infections, and if you see a problem, take your furry companion to the vet right away. Use any prescribed meds as directed. Ask about giving your pet vitamin C supplements, which can build up his immune system, and Animals’ Apawthecary Fidodent Mouth Formula, an antibacterial product with extracts of certified organic chamomile flower, thyme leaf, fennel seed, goldenseal root, and myrrh gum. It’s recommended for gingivitis and other mouth infections. Good dental care with products like these will keep your pet’s teeth dazzling and his breath “licking fresh” well into old age. No matter what he’s been chewing on.