Category Archives: oral hygiene

Tips for Combating Doggie Breath

By Suzanne Alicie

We all love our dogs, but one thing that seems to be a common complaint for all owners is doggie breath. Sure, little baby pups might have sweet smelling puppy breath, but in general when your dog gets in your face your first instinct is often to push him away. There are several ways you can combat doggie breath, and of course the first step is to talk to your vet.

Most veterinary offices offer doggie dental care which can help address any sort of infection, buildup or decay that may be making your dog’s breath worse than usual. Keeping your pooch’s choppers clean and healthy is part of being a responsible pet owner; you should do it for the health of your dog, not just for your sensitive nose!

You can even brush your dog’s teeth at home if you’re brave enough or if your dog is well behaved enough to allow it. Actually, if you start brushing their teeth regularly from puppyhood, most dogs will tolerate it – just be sure to use toothpaste made for dogs! It may be tempting to use some sort of human toothpaste or mouthwash to combat offensive doggie breath, but these things can be very harmful to your dog.

Some dog treats can help clear away plaque and leave your dog with fresher breath, such as Snap Biscuit and Snap Bits treats from CANIDAE. These treats include all natural peppermint as well as other healthy ingredients that will help keep your dog’s mouth fresh and clean! Doggie breath is as much a part of being a dog as barking, and it doesn’t seem to bother them at all, but the poor people who own the smelly critters are always looking for ways to defeat bad dog breath.

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Periodontal (Dental) Disease in Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

Like us, dogs and cats have a variety of diseases and conditions we need to be on the lookout for. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) says 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. Proper dental care is as important for our dogs and cats as it is for us. To bring awareness to the importance of dental care for pets, the AVDS has declared February as National Pet Dental Health Month. Periodontal disease is one of the most common for pets, and it can be a serious problem if left untreated.

What is periodontal disease?

It’s a buildup of tartar, also called calculus, and untreated gingivitis which causes damage to the ligaments and other tissue that holds the teeth in place. In the very early stages of the disease, cleaning the teeth and prevention will likely be enough to prevent more damage and save the teeth. By the time the disease has progressed to a moderate condition, however, permanent damage has already been done to the teeth. Periodontal disease isn’t always easy to see or diagnose, and even vets can miss it during regular checkups.

The word “periodontal” means the tissue (peri) around the tooth (dontal) that keeps the tooth in its socket. Periodontal disease can affect the ligaments and cementum (a layer of calcified tissue covering the root of a tooth) that hold the teeth in place, and if they are damaged by disease, then the tooth becomes loose and can fall out.

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How to Help a Senior Pet Age Gracefully

By Julia Williams

September is Senior Pet Health month, so I thought now would be a good time to discuss how responsible pet owners can help their aging animals live longer and be healthier. Early recognition of problems that occur naturally with age is crucial, as is making a few lifestyle changes to accommodate a senior pet. Like humans, advanced age can lead to arthritis, decreased mobility and decreased organ functions in senior pets. The following tips can help a senior pet age gracefully and enjoy their “Golden Years.”

Provide regular exercise. The pace of your daily walk with Fido may be slower, and they may take longer to retrieve their ball in a game of fetch. Cats may not jump as high or chase after their toy as quickly as they once did. Nevertheless, senior pets need sufficient exercise to avoid obesity, keep their muscles strong and their aging joints limber. Read “Games to Play with Pets” for some fun and creative calorie-burning activities. Just be sure to carefully monitor your pet during exercise to make sure they don’t overdo it.

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What Does Pet Dentistry Involve?

By Julia Williams

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Although it’s not a “holiday” per se, it does serve to remind us that providing oral care is an important aspect of responsible pet ownership. We all want our beloved pets to be healthy and happy animals, and pet dentistry can help. I decided to write this article for those who aren’t familiar with pet dentistry and don’t know what to expect when taking a pet in for a teeth cleaning procedure. So, what does pet dentistry involve, and how much it will cost to have your cat or dog’s teeth cleaned by a skilled veterinary professional?

The price of a teeth cleaning for your pet will vary considerably, depending on such things like their age, your geographical area, the condition of your pet’s teeth, and what procedures are necessary. This is why vet offices rarely give quotes for pet teeth cleaning over the phone. Morever, teeth cleaning is considered a surgery since it requires anesthesia, so your pet will need to be examined prior to the procedure. You can discuss teeth cleaning with your vet during your pet’s annual checkup, or schedule a pre-surgery exam if you think your pet has a dental problem and needs treatment right away.

After the pre-surgery exam, your vet will provide you with a cost estimate for your pet’s teeth cleaning. The basic cost of pet dentistry (including the exam) will typically be about $200 to $300. If you have an older cat or dog, your vet will most likely recommend that blood work be done prior to your pet’s teeth cleaning. Although there is an additional fee for this (around $50 to $75), a health profile can help your vet determine if there are any issues which make the surgery and anesthesia riskier for your pet. Generally speaking, for healthy animals under eight years of age, the blood work is considered optional (but please follow your vet’s recommendation on this).

Although anesthesia is expensive and complications can occur, getting your pet’s teeth cleaned without it is not an option. Even the most docile dog or gentle cat can become agitated and aggressive when subjected to a thorough teeth cleaning, which puts both them and the technician in danger. The cost of the anesthesia will vary according to a pet’s weight, so teeth cleaning for cats and small dogs costs less than medium and large dogs. For older animals, your vet may also recommend putting in an IV catheter so they have a readily available “port” to administer fluids should that become necessary during your pet’s teeth cleaning surgery.

While your pet is under the anesthesia you may want to have other procedures done, such as nail trimming. Additionally, if any of your pet’s teeth are badly decayed or causing other problems for them, these can be extracted during the pet dental procedure. Your pet may be sent home with post-op pain medication, particularly if there were extractions. Your vet may also recommend having a sealant put on your pet’s teeth to help reduce tartar formation, and send you home with plaque prevention gel that you apply to your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. All of these extra items will, of course, add to the cost of your pet’s teeth cleaning; however, they may be necessary as well as helpful to your pet in the long run.

Most vet clinics ask that you drop your pet off for their teeth cleaning first thing in the morning, and pick them up late in the afternoon. Although dental procedures are usually done in the morning, your pet needs to stay at the clinic for most of the day to ensure that they recover from the anesthesia without complications. Most do not charge extra for this hospitalization, though.

You can help keep the cost of pet dental treatments down by doing some at-home care. Brush your pet’s teeth regularly, and apply the plaque prevention gel (if your vet recommends it). Like anything “new,” learning how to brush your pet’s teeth – and actually doing it – might seem intimidating at first. But if you ask your vet to show you how it’s done, take it slow, and be patient, most dogs will adjust to regular brushing. Cats generally put up more resistance to having their teeth brushed, and some will never really accept it. My advice is to keep trying, and be sure to use the specially formulated pet toothpaste.

Professional pet dental treatments, coupled with regular at-home oral care, can help you keep your dog or cat’s teeth (and their body) in good health. And, National Pet Dental Health Month is a perfect time to schedule your pet’s teeth cleaning appointment!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

By Julia Williams

To raise awareness of how essential it is for pets to receive regular oral care, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and several other veterinary groups sponsor National Pet Dental Health Month in February. Which means, now is the perfect time for responsible pet owners to “brush up” on oral care for their pets.

Bad pun aside, pets whose owners neglect their oral health will likely suffer more than “doggie breath” and ugly yellow teeth. Poor dental hygiene can lead to periodontal disease which may cause swollen and tender gums, bleeding, and painful lesions in the mouth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss, infections and other serious health problems for pets, including damage to their heart, liver and kidneys.

AVMA President Dr. James Cook said, “Just as the public has come to realize that their own oral health is linked to their overall health, veterinarians want people to understand that dental health care is essential to maintaining the health and well-being of the family pet.”

Although many pet owners have had to make spending cutbacks in these challenging economic times, Dr. Cook warns against skimping on veterinary oral care. “Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets,” he said. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease as early as three years of age.

Symptoms to watch for include: very bad breath, excessive drooling, pawing at the face or mouth, bleeding or inflamed gums, visible tartar on the teeth, a change in eating or chewing habits, sensitivity around the mouth , loose or missing teeth, refusing to eat, poor self grooming, and personality changes.

It’s important to be aware of how your pet typically acts, so you can spot changes quickly. It’s especially crucial for cat owners, since felines are adept at hiding their pain. Because I work from a home office, I’m around my cats quite a bit, and can usually tell when one of them doesn’t feel well. But anyone who makes a conscious effort to familiarize themselves with what constitutes “normal” behavior for their pet, should be able to discern when they might be ill or in pain.

Prevention is the best “cure” for dental disease in pets. Alas, although you can train a canine to fetch, roll over and play dead, teeth brushing will never be part of his doggie bag of tricks. Same goes for cats. So what’s a responsible pet owner to do, to ensure that their beloved animal’s oral health is up to par?

The first, and really the easiest, is to make sure you take your pet to see your veterinarian at least once a year to have their teeth examined. The AVMA and many vets actually recommend six-month dental checkups for pets. It makes sense, considering that dentists advocate twice-yearly teeth cleaning for people, and unlike our pets, we can brush and floss between cleanings. The frequency your pet will need its teeth cleaned depends upon many things, among them diet, individual breeds and at-home dental care.

Every pet owner should learn how to brush their pet’s teeth, which can extend the time between professional teeth cleanings at the vets. The best time to start a regular brushing routine is when your pet is young. It’s far easier to get puppies and kittens used to teeth brushing than it is for adult animals; nevertheless, you can begin to do it at any age. Most dogs and many cats eventually accept the teeth brushing routine, and some actually enjoy it. I can’t say my cats like me messing with their mouths, but they do tolerate it.

If you’ve never brushed your pet’s teeth before, ask your vet to demonstrate it for you. I had a hard time getting my cats to open their mouths until my vet showed me how to do it, and I couldn’t believe how much easier it was after that! Your vet can also provide you with a special toothbrush and pet toothpaste, or you can buy them at your local pet store. Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog or cat’s teeth though, because it isn’t made to be swallowed. Pet toothpaste comes in poultry, seafood and other “animal-approved” flavors that may make the teeth brushing procedure more palatable.

February may be designated as Pet Dental Health Month, but providing oral care for your dog or cat all year long is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Here’s to clean teeth, fresh breath and healthy pets!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Oral Hygiene and Your Dog

By Ruthie Bently

Good oral hygiene is as important for canines as it is for humans. Our dogs can get cavities, crack a tooth, and get plaque buildup on their teeth. They can even get gum disease if their teeth are not taken care of properly. Dogs don’t get as many cavities as we do, because they don’t have access to the sugars that we have in our foods or beverages. However, veterinary dentists are noticing a rise in cavities in dogs that are fed dog treats which are high in sugar. CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® treats are a great choice for a healthy dog treat. They contain high quality chicken and turkey meals, whole grains, essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, and their crunchy texture helps scrape away plaque and tartar.

Dogs can crack their teeth if they are chewing on something that is too hard for them, so if you have a very oral dog you might want to consider a hard rubber toy with a bit of flex to it. If they are an aggressive chewer, try a toy that is bigger than their mouth; this way they can’t bite down on it too hard. You can even smear peanut butter in some of these toys to keep your dog occupied.

A dog suffering from gum disease can experience pain and dental issues as they get older if it is not treated. It can also lead to health issues with their kidneys or heart. By getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed when they are as young as possible, you are helping them stay healthier in the long run.

Bad breath is caused by bacteria, and if your dog has it, they might also have a problem with plaque or tartar. If the plaque or tartar is bad on your dog’s teeth you may want to consider a professional cleaning. There are both veterinary dentists and homeopaths that can perform the service for you. In most cases, a veterinary dentist will have to anesthetize your dog to clean their teeth.

There is a bright spot in all this – whether your dog is young or old, there are many good cleaning products on the market for your dog’s teeth. There are actual dog toothbrushes, which are smaller than ours to fit a dog’s mouth. There are also finger toothbrushes and even a wrap that goes on your finger like a piece of gauze. As for toothpaste, there are several varieties with flavors like beef that are sure to please a dog. When purchasing toothpaste for your dog’s teeth, make sure you do not use human toothpaste, because they have chemicals, abrasives and sweeteners in them that can be harmful to dogs.

Although it’s preferable to start your dog on their road to good oral health when they are a puppy, dogs of any age can be taught to accept having their teeth brushed. There are even toys for those dogs that are hard to win over to getting their teeth brushed. These toys have grooves in them that you can apply the toothpaste to, and then you give the toy to your dog and let them play with it. They get their teeth brushed while they are playing and they think you have just given them a treat. Not only that, they will remember and it will be that much easier the next time. As with anything else you are trying to teach your dog, consistency, patience and praise will win the day.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.