February is pet dental month. Dental health is important to people and pets, and for the same reasons. A healthy mouth is a great start to a healthy body. An unhealthy mouth adds to any other health problems a person or animal has.
Brushing a pet’s teeth can be a challenge at the best of times. Puppies that are started early can actually learn to enjoy the bonding time that brushing teeth can provide. There are a variety of pastes, gels, or even water additives designed for dental care. A little research and a few good questions will generally let you decide if these will suit your needs.
Many people rely on dental care provided at the vet’s office, cleaning every year or two, while the dog is put under. It can be expensive, and for older pets there can be health concerns with anesthesia, but for some it’s the only way to get the teeth cleaned. And if the teeth are very bad, or extractions are required, there may be no other choice.
There are other, more natural ways to keep a pet’s teeth clean. There are no toothbrushes in the wild, animals rely on their food to clean their teeth. Crunching the marrow out of an animal’s bones both derives nutrition, and cleans the teeth. That is the natural way of keeping their teeth in great shape. Raw bones, from chicken right through to beef or bison, can provide nutrition and dental health to a pet. And most cats can even chew cooked chicken bones, as they are dainty nibblers who do not ingest large pieces.
The one thing to watch for is if your pet is a gulper. If they are content to chew bones into small pieces, then it is safe to use them. But if they like to gulp whole chunks, some bones can pose a danger. In those cases, do not use bones, either raw or smoked. Instead, use non destructible chewing toys, hard plastic/nylon toys for extreme chewers are recommended.
For cats and small dogs, raw chicken necks are an excellent choice as a treat. Frozen or thawed, not only are they nutritious, but they are excellent at cleaning teeth. And, unlike dental cookies or foods, they do not leave residual carbs in the mouth to add to tartar build up. For larger dogs, raw chicken backs are a great treat. Both are inexpensive enough to offer every day, just be sure to adjust your feeding to account for the added nutrition you are giving the animal.
Beef, Elk and Bison bones are great for bigger dogs as well. The marrow can be rich and they can be messy, but they keep dogs teeth bright and shiny while giving the dog a satisfying treat. Again, attention must be given to ensure the sizing of the bone is appropriate for the pet.
As they are raw, you have to be careful in their handling. Not for the dogs sake, but for the people around. Most people will either give them outside, or have a “chewing mat” that the pet must use. If they venture off the mat with their “treat”, take it away and return it to the mat. It only takes a few times for them to figure out the routine. This will keep the raw products confined to a known area, which is then much easier to clean and maintain.
Dental health is easy, when you make it a daily routine. And finding a dental treatment that is also a treat for the pet, well, that’s easier still.