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How to Keep Your Dog's Teeth Healthy?

By Dr Ihor Basko, DVM
Updated: 2009-05-21 1:34 PM 4168 Views    Category: Care and Grooming
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I. Healthy diets:
Feeding your dogs wholesome diets which include freshly prepared cooked and raw meats is one of the best ways to promote healthy teeth and gums. The carbohydrates which make up the bulk of dry dog foods promote the growth of bacteria that are NOT beneficial to the teeth and instead help promote more plaque formation. Avoid commercial foods (canned or dry)  containing processed and refined corn, wheat, and other grains. Snacks such as raw carrots and broccoli can help promote gum health as well as provide antioxidants.
II.  Cleaning
 1. Manual cleaning can be done a few times a week using       mouth flushes, tooth brush, or a dish rag with a solution of 1oz of hydrogen peroxide + 1 oz of aloe vera juice + 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
2. Mechanical cleaning can be performed with the help of your Veterinarian.  It is very effective once a year, but can be costly and the anesthesia risk is a factor.
3. Natural cleaning: chewing on bones: raw / fermented /boiled

III. Bones provide the nutrients needed to keep the skeletal system fed growing and adapting.

1. Supervision / Observe your dogs chewing on bones.
Don't allow them to devour the whole bone in one sitting/20 minutes a day of chewing is sufficient to keep teeth clean.
2. Avoid Problem Bones: Avoid the 4 B’s

- Baked

- Broiled

- Barbequed

- Brachio-cephalic : Avoid giving bones to pugs, Pekinese, Lhasa apsa, Shitzu , Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Boxers, and any dogs with “pushed in” faces and muzzles.

- Also avoid “Greenies”
Brachiocephalic breeds are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively.
        Risky:  have small jaws & small breathing tubes
        Risky for bones and also anesthesia for teeth cleaning
Bones can be made more “user friendly” by:

- Boiling

- Pressure cooking = softness
Pressure cooked bones or raw bones ground with a meat grinder can be fed as part of the diet, but will not provide the mechanical help to keep the teeth clean; although, giving bones in this form will help maintain nutrition and beneficial bacterial flora.
Raw Bones are not for all dogs. Look at what your breed of dog ate 100 -200 years ago.  Whether your dog can eat bones or not depends upon the evolution of that particular breed of dog. Dogs with long and large muzzles can be trained to eat bones safely.
Just don’t over do it.

Once or twice a week, you can give your dogs a large knuckle bone (for large dogs) or a beef rib bone (for smaller breeds)  after meals.
Let them chew on if for at least 20 minutes, then put it away (in a plastic baggie in the fridge)
WHEN you can get in TROUBLE feeding bones:
- dog is hungry and has never had a bone or any table food

- dog is hungry and over eats / too many / breaks into the trash at the park or neighbors

- does not know how to chew properly; swallows instead of chewing

- bone is brittle and/or sharp

- dog is a brachiocephalic breed
What about GREENIES?
Recent TV and Newspaper stories have reported that many dogs had died by choking or by impaction of the intestines with Greenies and subsequent peritonitis.  This occurred because:

- owners gave too many

- owners did not supervise their dogs properly

- owners did not pay enough attention to what there dogs were doing or eating

- Greenies are difficult to digest.

- Greenies are good IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE.  But be careful!
IV. Prevention of Plaque formation and Gum Disease
Plaque forms on the teeth when the saliva becomes too acidic, the diet contains too many carbohydrates (helping to proliferate pathogenic and harmful bacteria), and the teeth are not properly cleaned.
- FEED less processed foods (dry or canned) Instead feed Freshly made cooked or raw diets

- Teach your dog how to use a bone / or use large Kong toy

- Examine their teeth at least once a week and wipe stains away with baking soda and peroxide

- Add a special seaweed powder from www.international-dental.com. This sea weed helps to promote healthy bacteria in mouth.

- Add pre & pro-biotics to the food such as the different species of lactobacillus (acidophilus, plantarum, bifidus, etc.)

- IF you have to feed commercially prepared dry food, add enzymes with each meal.

- If gums are unhealthy rinse and flush the mouth out with

- Saline rinse

- Goldenseal tea

- 5 drops of clove oil + 4 oz of aloe vera juice

- Green tea or herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint,

- Ginger & garlic tea (take 1 clove of garlic and a piece of fresh ginger 1 inch by 1 inch boil for 20 minutes, cool to room temperature and rinse

- Veterinary Dental care  (recommended) if all of the above is not being performed. 1 X a year

- If your pet already has gum disease, supplement with Coenzyme Q10 antioxidant  30mg twice daily for cats and small dogs up to 100mg twice daily along with Vit C 250 – 1,000 mg daily (Antibiotics may be necessary)


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Dr. Ihor Basko graduated from Michigan State University with special interests in Internal medicine, cardiology and bone surgery. Since 1971 he has been devoted to the study and practice of acupuncture, herbal medicines, dietary therapy, homeopathy, massage, and other alternative therapies for animals. More info about Dr Basko can be found at http://www.drbasko.com.
1 COMMENTS Leave a Comment
on Thu, May 21st, 2009 at 1:38 PM, by luv4pets
  A holistic view on how to keep your dog's teeth clean by the right diet and techniques.
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