The importance of good dental care has only recently become a commonly accepted facet of pet care. However, looking after our pet’s teeth can help her live a long, happy life.
Common dental problems experienced by pets include excessive plaque and tartar on the teeth, gum conditions including periodontal disease, tooth-root abscesses and infections. When left untreated, these problems can cause a large number of unpleasant, painful and debilitating conditions, ranging from nauseating bad breath to damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart.
While veterinarians can perform regular check-ups on your pet’s teeth, there are steps that you can take to help maintain good oral health. Unfortunately, diet is one of the primary causes of dental problems in pets, but by adjusting what your pet eats, you can drastically improve any existing conditions and prevent new oral health complications from occurring.
What diet can I give my pet to improve their dental health?
While some pets are notoriously fussy about what they eat, others will be happy to chow down on whatever is put in front of them – sometimes whether they are meant to or not! Some of the best ways you can help to maintain the dental health of your pet includes:
- Feeding easy-to-swallow foods. Sticky and chewy foods can become stuck in awkward parts of the mouth that are hard to reach and brush.
- Feeding a nutritious diet that contains a good balance of the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fats that your pet needs to thrive.
- Give your pet chew treats and rawhide products. This chewing action produces saliva which is your pet’s natural defense against tooth acids. Chewing can also help to keep the teeth clean by dislodging any particles of food or any bacteria that has accumulated, particularly in small, hard to clean parts of the mouth.
- Avoid particularly hard foods such as dried bones from their diet. Not only is there a risk that they could fragment and become lodged in the patient, but they could also cause damage and even break your teeth.
What is a ‘dental diet’?
A dental diet is based on providing food that is nutritionally balanced while also designed to control and reduce the production of plaque on your pet’s teeth. There are a variety of foods and treats available that are marketed as ‘dental’.
However, many of these do not actually have any real dental benefit for your pets. If you are looking for specially-formulated dental foods for your pet, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. This means that the product has been tested and there is concrete evidence to support that it is effective against the development of tooth decay.
Dental diet foods are normally available online, at local pet stores where prescription foods are sold, and via your veterinarian. However, you should always check your pet’s suitability for a dental diet with your vet before you buy and feed them any of these products.
If you have concerns about your pet’s dental health then the first step is to make an appointment with Dr. Alcorn, so your pet can have a check-up. You can then discuss their oral health and whether a dental diet is the right solution for your pet’s teeth.