For 16 years I have been neglecting my dog’s oral health. Stella, my 16 year old beagle, recently developed very foul smelling breath. On closer inspection, her teeth were a mess! I took her to my holistic Veterinarian, who immediately knew Stella would need to have some teeth removed. My vet took a blood sample and did a physical exam. Both showed that Stella was in excellent health, thanks to her homemade dog food and the Senior Dog Protocol supplements. A week later I took her in for a cleaning and extraction. In the end it cost me a whole lot of money and cost Stella 18 teeth! I made sure to give her lots of love and lots of Pet Flora to combat the antibiotics given after the surgery. After her bacteria ridden teeth were gone, she healed quickly and had a new lease on life, phew.

If I could go back to the beginning, when I brought Stella home from the pound as a puppy, would I have done things differently? The answer is yes, of course!

probiotics for dogs

Stella getting spoon feed soft eggs with Pet Flora mixed in.

dog grooming

Rosie looking over Stella as she recovers from oral surgery.

Advanced dental disease hurts; it makes pets feel sick. The dental tartar you see slowly building up on your pet’s teeth is about 80 percent bacteria and damages the gums, the bone beneath, and the ligaments that hold the teeth in place. This bacteria can gain access to the blood stream and infect vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Thankfully, Stella was in good enough health to undergo surgery and get those rotten teeth removed. Yet again, another reason to maintain optimum health and a strong immune system!

If I knew then (when Stella was a puppy) what I know now, would I have brushed Stella’s teeth everyday? I don’t think so, and I know I am not alone, 95 percent of pet owners don’t regularly brush their dogs’ teeth. But there are other ways, besides brushing to help your beloved pooch maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Although daily brushing is the best deterrent, here are some ways to clean dogs’ teeth without brushing:

  1. Raw Bones: Just like in the wild, raw bones scrape tartar off of teeth, exercises the jaw, and provides minerals like calcium to the body. If you are not going to brush, then raw bones are second best. Make sure the bones you give your dog are Raw, which are generally safe. Look for large femurs and knuckle bones from cows. Watch to make sure the bone doesn’t get too small, and if it does, exchange it for a new one. Cooked bones splinter and can get lodged in your animal’s throat.
  2. Homeopathy: for a dog that gets tartar build up easily, try administering Fragara 6x, 2 pellets 2x a day. Do not mix in food.
  3. Fresh Foods: provide plaque fighting enzymes. Although marketing suggest that kibble cleans teeth, that is not true.
  4. Enzymes: Use a digestive enzyme and pack it onto different quadrants of the teeth once a day for a week then move onto another quadrant. This will effectively handle tartar.
  5. Enzymatic Oral Sprays and Gels: These are ideal for dogs and cats who already have plaque buildup on their teeth. Grape seed and grapefruit extracts help reduce inflammation and disease while neem, peppermint, and thyme oils fight bacteria and pathogens that cause gingivitis and bad breath. Just spray or rub on your dog’s gum line. A variety of companies make brushless oral care products, but it’s important to choose a high quality product formulated from natural, non-toxic ingredients. Here are a few products I am interested in trying:
  • LebaLab uses herbs in it’s Leba III dental spray. “The herbs are mints and rose, stabilized in ethyl alcohol and distilled water,” says Lise Guerin. “All the ingredients are human grade. The herbs are the active ingredients. They stimulate the enzymes and change the chemistry in the mouth. They activate the saliva and the tartar softens and comes off slowly over time.”
  • PetzLife uses a unique blend of essential oils and extracts,” says Andrew Groth. “It works within the saliva to kill the bacteria in the animal’s mouth, allowing plaque and tartar to be broken down, even under the gum line.” For example, the grapefruit seed extract in the product reduces periodontal inflammation, while grape seed extract helps prevent dental plaque and mitigates oral and gum disease. Other ingredients include peppermint oil, neem oil and thyme oil, all good for dental health and hygiene.
  • Bluestem oral care products are scientifically developed and clinically proven to be safe and effective,” says Erika Linden of Kane Biotech Inc. “All the ingredients are food-grade (no harsh chemicals), and meet the safety standards set out by Health Canada’s Low Risk Veterinary Health Products (LRVHP) program. The active ingredients help fight plaque and tartar, which in turn freshens breath.”

Do not give your dog xylitol! xylitol is beneficial to humans oral health, but is poison to dogs.

I have not tried these techniques yet, but I definitely want to. I am especially interested in the enzyme treatment for my other beagle Rosie, maybe Vitality Science’s Super Pet Enzymes will work, I’ll let you know.

If you have tried these or have other techniques not mentioned, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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