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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

As we continue through National Pet Dental Health Month, we want to make sure that people don’t think that a professional vet cleaning is the only strategy pet parents have at our disposal — there’s actually so much we can do! In our Blog “Have You Looked In Your Pets Mouth?” we talked about products we that can help with your pets dental health. ¬†But, did you know that diet and feeding strategies can also make a huge difference in your pet’s dental health?

Most wolves and coyotes in the wild have very strong, clean teeth. ¬†Animal experts have studied this at great length so that thankfully, most of us will never need to confirm it in ourselves! But the reason it’s true is because of their diet. These wild canine cousins regularly eat a raw diet that includes meat, gristle, fibrous tissue, cartilage, and actual bone. The chewing process itself is so abrasive to their teeth and gums that it breaks down plaque formations and “scrubs” teeth on a daily basis.

In much the same way, a raw diet can help control tartar build-up on the teeth of our pets. You may notice that most commercial raw food are prepared to some degree — ground up and often shaped into forms that are convenient to store and/or feed. However, these patties and pieces still contain tiny bone fragments that have the similar effect as a fine-grit sandpaper. When your pet chews these foods, the mild abrasive process helps to scour teeth and gums by breaking down existing plaque and tartar deposits.

As we have talked about before, kibble is like having a crunchy snack like popcorn, pretzels, or a granola bar. It does not clean your pet’s teeth or gums. Do you remember how those felt in your mouth? Did your teeth feel refreshingly clean afterward? Kibble has something in common with these snacks: It basically begins its life as a starchy carbohydrate, which is then ground into paste that’s hardened or baked into tiny nuggets that are easy to feed. When your pet’s saliva breaks these nuggets down, they revert to their starchy, pasty form inside the mouth. This paste works its way between teeth and adheres to the gum line. Unless it’s dislodged somehow, that’s where it stays. See our recent blog for some of those products that can help dislodge and clean when feeding kibble.

Raw foods, on the other hand, are composed largely of meat proteins and natural enzymes. Proteins take longer to digest, so they aren’t broken down as quickly by saliva in the mouth. Enzymes immediately go to work dissolving residues on your pet’s teeth. And of course, we have already mentioned that tiny abrasive fragments act like a scrubbing toothbrush. When you feed your pet a raw diet, starch residues around the teeth are kept to a minimum and the chewing process itself begins to work in your pet’s favor.

If you want to learn more about your pets’ dental health or adding raw food into their diet, stop into any Two Bostons and one of expert Team Members can help you!

 

 

1 COMMENT
Laurie Martin D.V.M.
March 7, 2017
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Hi Two Bostons!

Food influences dental health via stimulating salivary flow, mechanical cleansing and composition.

Fine textured moist diets result in more plaque accumulation vs. other textures and is where the adage “kibble cleans teeth” comes from.

However, dental benefit from a dry diet will vary significantly based on kibble size and texture. Large kibbles, especially those designed to allow the tooth to sink into the kibble instead of breaking upon tooth contact can have significant benefit. The cleansing effect of small kibble would be minimal. Regardless, feeding a dry diet shouldn’t be thought of as a comprehensive oral health care program.

A processed raw meat based diet would not be expected to have dental benefits. When such a diet was fed and dental health assessed and compared to those eating kibble, the processed raw meat fed subjects had much more plaque accumulation than the kibble eating counterparts (Vosburgh,et al 1982). The natural enzymes present in a raw diet can only function in an acidic environment and the mouth is basic thus rendering them useless. A mechanical effect wouldn’t be expected to occur.

Dental treats and other items do contribute to mechanical cleansing. Anything offered should be pliable enough so that your thumb nail can easily indent the surface of the item, harder materials result in tooth damage. Choose items carefully to prevent choking hazards.

While chewing on provided chewing materials can help cleanse the part of the tooth you can see, the real problem area is under the gums, an area that chewing doesn’t reach. Proper brushing is recommended to sweep debris out from the space that is between the tooth and gum which is where the real dental health problems start. If brushing isn’t possible then safe chewing items are the next best thing.

When choosing dental products always look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal which indicates the product was effective when used as directed.

Hope you and your readers find the information helpful!

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