Shop Online  |  My Account  |  Customer Care  |  Order Status
View Cart  | 
Search:

News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

If you look at a wild canine’s teeth, you’ll see clean, white shiny teeth.

Why? They are eating what nature intended, raw meat, bones, and organs of their prey.

If you look at a domestic canine’s teeth, many times you will find tartar buildup, yellow or brown discoloration, inflamed gums, and maybe even some loose teeth.

Why? They are eating food that has no dental benefits. It is a myth that kibble can help control your dog’s tartar. In reality, it will control tartar just as well as trying to clean your own teeth with granola. Many kibbles also contain ingredients such as sugars, carbohydrates, and starches that cause the kibble to stick to a dog’s teeth. These ingredients are also a food source for opportunistic oral bacteria, which will actually cause further tartar to form. Since these foods do not contain live nutrients and many times contain things like preservatives and dyes, they will disrupt normal flora in the body and can lead to tartar that way as well.

Many people view dental disease as a normal process when there is nothing normal or natural about it. The reason this unnatural process is happening is because dogs are eating food that they are not designed to eat. 

Raw food is the natural diet of your dog and it has a variety of benefits, with the focus of this article being to improve or maintain good dental hygiene.

Raw meaty bones are the best option to control tartar as they provide an abrasive, cleaning action on your dog’s teeth. It’s important to emphasize four areas when providing raw meaty bones to your dog.

  1. The bones must be raw. Cooked bones splinter and can cause harm to your pet.
  2. It is important to always supervise, know your dog and choose a size appropriate raw meaty bone for them. If they tent to gulp, the bone needs to be larger than their mouth or head so that they can gnaw rather than gulp.
  3. If your dog is an intense chomper, it is important to not give them a bone that is very dense as this can cause a tooth fracture. Dense bones are those which are weight-bearing bones of adult cattle, such as a marrow bone.
  4. Remember to handle raw meaty bones the same as you handle your own raw meat. Have your dog work on them in an area that you can sanitize such as a create or outside. Do not allow them to run around your house with a raw bone. Refrigerate or freeze the bone if they have more to work on later.

Raw meat contains live enzymes and probiotics. The enzymes help to keep teeth clean by breaking down bacteria on your dog’s teeth. The probiotics found in a raw diet also maintain normal balance and populations of bacterial flora in the mouth. Both also help to retain pH balance, making it less likely that any harmful bacteria can thrive in your dog’s mouth. Furthermore, it does not stick to a dog’s teeth like a dry food.

Healthy teeth & gums of my raw fed German shepherd

In terms of maintaining healthy teeth and gums, nothing compares to a raw diet. A raw diet is a species appropriate diet for our dogs, meaning it is the easiest diet for them to digest and assimilate nutrients from, as it is in the natural state that a dog’s body recognizes and utilizes. Prevention of dental disease is not feeding a kibble diet and doing regular dental cleanings. Rather, prevention is honoring the natural design of our dogs and feeding and caring for them accordingly. Their body will be better able to maintain health the way it was meant to in the first place.

Pictured are my raw feed dogs: Lolo (border collie), Bella (Italian greyhound), and Onyx (German shepherd)

Dr. Erin O’Connor is an AVCA Animal Chiropractor and ACAN Naturopathic Carnivore Nutrition Consultant. She sees patients out of her clinic, Vitality Chiropractic Center in Aurora, as well as Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva. For further information, visit myvitalitychiropractic.com or email Dr. O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com.

 

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!

 

 

melanie-waszkowski

The long awaited addition to Earth Animal’s No-Hide line is FINALLY here!  In addition to the loved No-Hide Chicken chew, all Two Bostons stores now carry the No-Hide Salmon Chew and No-Hide Beef Chew!  These new flavors are still 100% digestible, safe and made in the USA.  These chews are great because they’re a longer lasting alternative to a bully stick, and a safe (and yummy!) alternative to Rawhide.

With my husband and I filing our taxes tonight, I knew right away I had to pick up one of these new treats for my pup, Sherman, to keep him occupied while we spent a few hours in front of the computer.

The first thing that stood out to me when looking at the new flavors ingredients list was the addition of bananas and pineapple. I got excited seeing this on the list, as Sherman loves when I share the fruits or vegetables that I’m snacking on with him.  The No-Hide Salmon Chew uses vegetable gelatin, and the No-Hide Beef Chew uses Beef gelatin as a binder to hold the wrap together.  The Salmon chew No-Hide beef salmonalso provides a natural source of Omega 3 fatty acids!

In between entering tax information, I kept an eye on Sherman to see how he was enjoying the new Beef flavor.  Like the Chicken chews he’s had before, I still noticed NO mess, NO staining, and NO smell, and I could tell that he was thoroughly enjoying it.

Sherman no-hideHe first licked the “meaty” part off, and when all the good stuff was gone, continued to work on the actual wrap.  Another great thing about the No-Hide line is that it helps keep Sherman’s teeth clean.  In addition to his teeth brushing and dental chews, the No-Hide line is a chew I trust in helping control his tarter and plaque build up.  With February being dental health month, giving your dog a No-Hide chew is a fun and tasty treat that will help with their oral health.

Sherman gives the No-Hide Beef chew a 2-Paws Up!  After a few hours of doing taxes, he was reluctant to give up what he had left, but still has quite a bit left for another afternoon of chews.  Stop into any Two Bostons store to pick up one for your pup today!

MelissaG_profile

Here at Two Bostons, we’re always emphasizing the importance of regular dental care. According to many vets, taking good care of your pup’s teeth can actually increase his or her lifespan by two to three years! It’s one of the simplest ways to improve the quality of your dog’s life, and we have plenty of fantastic products to help you on your quest for awesome oral hygiene. One of our favorite NEW dental treats? Merrick Dental Chews!

Merrick is the same company that brings you those extra-yummy-looking (and extremely healthy) canned pet stews such as Turducken, Wingaling, Cowboy Cookout, and many more. Recently, we not only started carrying their matching treat line of protein-packed, grain-free, gluten-free Kitchen Bites and Power Bites (featuring adorable little shapes!), but also their brand NEW dental chew line.

MerrickDental

One of my favorite things about these all-natural dental chews is that they are all grain free, which is pretty hard to find in a dental bone! (Although it’s worth noting that even though we DO carry certain grain-containing dental treats in our stores, they contain such a small amount of grain that most dogs can handle them without issue). These Merrick chews are also gluten-free, and don’t contain sorbic acid or the color additive sodium copper chlorophylin. Another great plus? They are chicken flavored, so picky dogs who turn up their noses at some of our more “minty” treats, such as Breath-less Brushless Toothpaste or Terrabones, will love the savory taste! I know that’s why Shenzi definitely craves these dental chews. Pups will think they’re getting a fantastic new treat – while YOU know that each specially-shaped chew is actually cleaning and fighting tartar on the surface of their teeth.

Just like many of our other dental chews, Merrick dental chews come in a variety of shapes, textures, and sizes including Flossies, Texas Toothpicks, and three different bone sizes (Mini Brush Bones, Lil’ Brush Bones, and Big Brush Bones). This makes it easy to find just the right one(s) for your pup. We already know about the goodness of Merrick canned foods and treats, so I highly suggest you give these dental chews a try as well. When used in conjunction with other oral care items such as toothpaste and water supplements, they can do wonders for your dog — while saving YOU the headache (and expense!) of canine oral health problems. Stop by and see us today to try out these awesome new teeth-friendly treats!

 

 

MBB_Profile

Every once in awhile, an item comes along that not only does wonderful things for our pets, but is nearly as beneficial for us humans. A prime example is Ark Naturals BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste. This unique product helps reduce plaque buildup on our pets’ teeth, without requiring us pet parents to do much more than open a convenient bag. As a side benefit, it’s also a fantastic aid for our enunciation skills (say “breathless brushless” out loud to yourself ten times fast each day, and see if your diction doesn’t improve).

BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste has won multiple awards for effectiveness because it’s actually two products in one. Its patented, made-in-the-USA design features an all-natural, rice-based chew on the outside; wrapped around an inside core that contains edible pet toothpaste along with other products known to freshen breath, prevent decay, and support dental health. Our Maizy, who tries to eat pretty much everything, wants you to know that the entire chew is safely digestible.

According to veterinary studies, between 80-85% of all dogs and cats will begin to experience some type of dental decay by the time they’re 2-3 years old. That’s why we pet parents need to be so proactive when it comes to safeguarding our best furry friend’s healthy smile (which can have a huge impact on overall wellness and ability to chew). Manual brushing is one of the most effective ways to protect against damage on a daily basis, and we discuss how fast, easy, and fun this can be in a previous blog. But for those times when you’d like to give your canine or kitty a little added protection – or the kids are having a meltdown, or you’re simply running late for work — BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste is a highly effective (and tasty) option.

The outer shell of each BREATH-LESS Brushless chew is made with natural breath-freshening ingredients that include chlorophyl, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove. Other ingredients include rice flour, honey, and flax oil. These are all mixed, shaped, and hardened into a crunchy chew with clever ridges that help massage gums and remove food debris. The inside is made with L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (“Stay-C”), a source of vitamin C considered to be a key nutrient in dental health. BREATH-LESS Brushless does NOT contain any wheat, corn, soy, animal protein, artificial colors, or artificial flavors. Each bag is also re-sealable, and no refrigeration is required. Once opened, just store the package in a cool, dry place.

Breathless Brushless

BREATH-LESS Brushless combines a unique, ridged outer chew texture with breath-freshening ingredients and an inner toothpaste core. Together with regular toothbrushing at home, it’s an effective way to help reduce plaque and gum inflammation in your pet.

 

Another nice thing about BREATH-LESS Brushless is that you can choose from multiple sizes. There’s a “Mini” size that’s great for cats and puppies; plus a “Small/Medium” and a “Medium/Large” size. Ark Naturals recommends its product for dogs and cats 12 weeks and older; and the chew is designed to break down relatively quickly (in other words, it’s not like an antler chew), so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on pets while they enjoy it. Check out this recent video from our Two Bostons owner, AdreAnne, in which she talks about some of her favorite product features (you can also see it on Pinterest).

If you’d like to try BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste, we suggest that you begin slowly as with any new food or treat. Try giving your pet a “Mini” chew once or twice to make sure it’s well-tolerated, and then increase to 1-2 chews per day based upon your pet’s size, response, and general diet. Again, the most effective way to safeguard your pet’s dental health is to adopt some type of regular at-home brushing routine as well. There are also additional products and dietary changes that can make big improvements to overall tooth and gum health. We’ll talk about a few of these in upcoming blogs — but in the meantime, ask any Two Bostons team member for firsthand insights and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

MBB_Profile

Recently, as part of National Pet Dental Health Month, we posted a blog discussing the benefits of a raw diet when it comes to improving the oral health (not to mention the general health) of our dogs and cats. We received several great inquiries from readers who wanted to learn more. So in this blog, we’ll talk a bit more about transitioning to a raw diet — and also mention some of the brand NEW raw foods Two Bostons is adding to our already extensive selection.

First, if you’ve been thinking about transitioning your pet to a raw diet, there are a few things to keep in mind:

It’s extremely cost-effective.
Very often, allergies and ailments that our pets experience while on a commercial or kibble-based pet food diet tend to resolve (or greatly diminish) once a raw diet is in full effect. Why? Because raw diets are more consistent with the biological makeup of our canine and kitty friends, whose bodies need naturally occurring proteins, minerals, and enzymes to function optimally. Commercial pet food diets are loaded with fillers, artificial preservatives, and worrisome animal by-products that do not meet approval standards for human consumption. High-carb kibble diets are very heavy in starches and sugars while being low in natural proteins and enzymes. This often contributes to lethargy, skin and coat issues, “doggie breath,” thyroid problems, even diabetes and pancreatitis over time.

It’s extremely safe and environmentally friendly.
Commercially-prepared raw foods (such as products from Stella & Chewy’s) have some of the best and most consistent safety records on the market today. This is because many are produced in very controlled batches, and subject to stringent inspection practices that greatly minimize the incidence of things like Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter. These raw foods are made in USDA-certified facilities with extreme concern for cleanliness, humane treatment, and environmental impact.

It’s extremely easy.
Easier than you  probably think. Simply go slowly, as you would with any new dietary change. Puppies can often transition over the course of just a few days, while geriatric or ailing pets may require a few weeks. Just begin by replacing about 10% of your dog’s meals with raw food (you can fast your dog for a few hours prior to the first meal to ensure a strong appetite). Then, each day, replace another 10% of the original diet with the raw diet. If your pet rejects the food, or experiences stomach/gastric upset, simply slow the process down. Remember that one or two loose stools often signals nothing more than detoxification (a very beneficial thing), so just keep a close eye on your pet while the food transition is underway.

New Raw Foods

Two Bostons carries an extensive selection of raw foods, and our team members are specially trained to provide individualized dietary guidance. Ask about some of the great NEW foods we’re now carrying from these trusted brands!

 

STELLA & CHEWY’S DINNER MORSELS
Stella & Chewy’s is an all-time customer (and team member!) favorite that we’ve carried for quite some time. But in addition to all the terrific Stella & Chewy’s products you’ve come to know and love, we now carry frozen Dinner Morsels in a 4-pound bag. These super-convenient nuggets are tiny in size – so they’re ideal for pets of any age, even puppies and older dogs that might have trouble managing larger pieces. Better yet, they can be fed just like kibble if you like – simply pour them straight from the package into the bowl! Quick, easy, yummy, pure, super-nutritious.

RAW BISTRO
Two Bostons now carries Raw Bistro at our Springbrook store, and we can order Raw Bistro products for you at any of our stores. Based in Minnesota, in the heart of a thriving sustainable agriculture area, Raw Bistro developed its raw food and treat formulas by partnering with a holistic vet and veterinary nutrition specialist. The company has built its reputation on a strong commitment to ecologically sound production methods, local sourcing, family farm support, and humane farm animal treatment. Raw Bistro uses organic and grass-fed meats that are naturally high in the protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes domesticated pets need to thrive. Locally grown ingredients travel only short distances, so they spend less time in shipping and storage containers to retain more of their natural freshness and nutrition. This also gives them a much smaller carbon footprint.

STEVE’S REAL FOOD
A true raw pet food pioneer! Our Two Bostons Springbrook store now carries 9.7 pound boxes of Steve’s Real Food products, and any of our stores can order Steve’s raw products for you. Steve’s Real Food has been making top-quality raw pet food since 1998. In fact, Steve’s was one of the very first companies in the industry to distribute raw meat dog food nationwide. Steve’s products contain an optimal balance of meat and vegetables to make raw feeding not only easy and tasty, but extra-affordable too. To enhance this affordability, Steve’s relies on word-of-mouth for much of its advertising; so expensive promotional costs are held to a minimum. The convenient “tater tot”-sized nuggets don’t require overnight defrosting, cutting, or mixing. That means they’re as easy to feed as kibble – just pour and serve. Plus, Steve’s is working toward being one of the first pet food makers fully committed to going green. Food is packaged in bags made from soy- and water-based inks, and in a municipal composting environment the bags naturally compost within 10-40 days.

We also now carry another amazing Steve’s product: Raw Goat Milk Yogurt! Packed with probiotics and loaded with vitamins and minerals, this cool and creamy treat can be fed as a snack or used as a yummy food topper to add raw nutrition to any dry or canned meal. It’s a fantastic immune booster & digestive aid, with carrier enzymes that allow for better assimilation of vitamins and nutrients. Steve’s Raw Goat Milk Yogurt is made from free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free goat milk; and also contains added chia for a powerful boost of Omega-3s, plus coconut flour for enriched protein and fiber content. Check out our recent blog on the numerous benefits of goat milk.

Stop by any Two Bostons store today if you’d like to learn more about our extensive selection of raw food products. Our team members are always happy to offer firsthand insights that can help you customize a feeding plan for your specific pet – and get your furry friend well on the way to better dental health, overall vitality, and a lifetime of wellness!

MBB_Profile

In our last post, we talked about diet choices that can help make a big difference to your pet’s overall dental health. But there are other measures we can take as well. For example, many of us are at least aware that we can also brush our pet’s teeth at home. Whether we choose to act on this knowledge hinges on several important questions:

  • Will I need to somehow wrestle my pet to the ground in a friendly, non-threatening manner?
  • Is my pet going to feel anxious or traumatized?
  • Will I need to show up late to work, or cancel important engagements, because this is taking so long?
  • Will there be a lot of growling and/or flailing around (not just on the part of my pet)?
  • Will our prized plasma TV and/or favorite coffee table be demolished in the process?
  • Is somebody (like, say, me) going to require emergency wound care?

Believe it or not, when tooth brushing is done correctly none of these things is ever likely to happen. Brushing your pet’s teeth should never be unpleasant or stressful — for either you or your pet. In fact, it can actually be a great bonding experience. If you take things very gradually at the beginning, and offer lots of upbeat praise, both of you may actually begin looking forward to at-home tooth brushing sessions — and they can help improve your pet’s oral health dramatically.

Here are a few insights I’ve gained from learning to brush our own dogs’ teeth at home. Note that I’m using the term “dog” below, but these insights can be applied to cats as well. The important thing is to let your pet’s individual preferences dictate the pace.

Pet Tooth Brushing

A smaller toothbrush like the Triple Pet Finger Brush can help you reach around smaller angles inside your pet’s mouth — and that makes things much more comfortable for your pet.

 

Going in, keep reminding yourself that this should be a FUN experience for you and your dog. Keep your tone upbeat, and take things slowly. Keep sessions short and positive, don’t use force to restrain your pup, and keep on praising throughout the process. Again, your pet will let you know when it’s okay to advance to the next step. Give yourself some encouragement too, because you’re doing a wonderful thing for your pup’s pearly whites and overall health.

First, have your dog get used to you putting things in his mouth. Dip your finger in beef broth or peanut butter. Call your dog in a voice that means “treat” and let your dog lick your finger. Next, “re-load” your finger and rub it very lightly over your dog’s gums and front teeth. Just a few seconds is fine – when your dog pulls away, praise. Once your dog begins looking forward to this activity (usually after a few sessions), move on to the next step.

Now, wrap a small piece of gauze around your finger (dip it in the broth or peanut butter if you’d like). Gently rub your dog’s teeth in a circular motion with your gauzed finger — starting with just the front teeth if necessary. Remember to praise constantly and use an upbeat “treat” tone. Do this once per day until your dog seems comfortable.

Once you’ve reached this point, you’re ready to start using an actual toothbrush or dental sponge (a brush I especially like is the EZDOG Triple Pet Finger Brush, which has very soft rubber bristles and is completely dishwasher safe for easy cleaning). First, let your dog lick something super-tasty off of the brush or pad so that he gets used to the bristly texture. Again, approach this just like treat time. Next, add a little bit of actual toothpaste to the brush or pad. Pet toothpastes come in a range of flavors like malt, peanut butter, or poultry – so feel free to experiment and find a flavor your dog really loves. Some dogs have a bit of a sweet tooth, in which case you can also try a children’s fruit-flavored toothpaste without fluoride.

Once your pup has selected a favorite flavor, begin by letting him lick some of this toothpaste off your finger. Next, apply a dab to your pet’s gum line with your finger. Praise, praise, praise constantly while this is going on. After a time, wrap your finger in gauze and do this same thing again.

Once your pet is comfortable with this step, you’re ready to begin brushing. Talk to your pup in a very reassuring, happy, upbeat voice throughout the process, and give BIG praise at the end.  I’ve found that it’s helpful at first to brush only the upper canine teeth (the pointy ones toward the front of the mouth). These are pretty easy to reach, they’re vital to your dog’s chewing ability, and they provide good practice.  As your pup gets comfortable having a few teeth brushed, gradually increase the number every few days. Tell your pooch to “sit, stay” (or “down, stay” if that’s more comfortable) and make it feel like a game. Offer a fun reward at the end (quick belly rub, romp in the yard, small treat, game of tug or fetch, etc.)

As your pet becomes used to the tooth-brushing routine, you’ll begin to realize it takes less than five minutes each day to give his teeth a quick yet thorough polish. We do this every morning before work, followed by tons of praise and an enthusiastic ear scratch. The dogs actually run over with their tails wagging, and will even do tricks when they see their toothbrushes. It’s become a really fun activity for them – and it’s SO beneficial to their dental health.

Do you have special tips for brushing your pet’s teeth at home? Share them with us below. In our next few blogs, we’ll talk more about special products that can really support (and in many cases, greatly improve) your pet’s dental health. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask anyone on our Two Bostons team for insights and suggestions!

MBB_Profile

In our last blog, we kicked off National Pet Dental Health Month and talked a bit about safeguarding the dental health of our furry friends. Many people think that a professional vet cleaning is the only strategy we pet parents have at our disposal – but there’s actually so much we can do! Today, we consider some diet and feeding strategies that yes, truly can make a huge difference!

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 an up-close-and-personal kind of way. But the reason it’s true is mainly because of 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 domesticated pets. You may have noticed that most commercial raw foods 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 an effect similar to 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.

 

Importance of Diet

The right diet choices can actually work in your pet’s favor, breaking down plaque deposits inside the mouth and exerting a toothbrush-like scrubbing action that keeps teeth and gums healthy.

 

Now there are certain people (perhaps certain people you know, or maybe even certain people reading this blog) who say, “Oh come on, hard kibble provides the exact same benefits because it’s so crunchy.” Okay, let’s stop and think about that statement for a second. When was the last time you enjoyed a really crunchy snack like movie popcorn, or pretzels, or Grape Nuts, or a granola bar? Can you remember how it 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 back to their starchy, pasty form inside your pet’s mouth. This paste works its way between teeth and adheres to the gum line. Unless it’s dislodged somehow, that’s where it stays.

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’ve already mentioned that tiny abrasive fragments act like a scrubbing toothbrush. When you feed your pet a raw diet, starchy residues around the teeth are kept to a minimum and the chewing process itself begins to work in your pet’s favor. There are dozens of healthy, natural raw options to choose from — featuring whole-food ingredients and palatable proteins like turkey, beef, duck, venison, chicken and more. These foods have the added benefit of nutrition labels that are free of animal by-products, artificial additives and preservatives. Also, today’s commercial raw foods are prepared to extremely stringent safety standards, with safety records that rival (and very often beat) leading supermarket brands. Anyone on the Two Bostons team would be happy to help you customize a diet plan for your specific pet.

 

Raw Foods

Most raw foods available for purchase have been formulated and pre-shaped to a certain degree, to facilitate easy feeding and convenient storage. But they’re also subjected to stringent safety standards, and contain whole-food ingredients that act like a mildly abrasive cleanser on your pet’s teeth.

 

In addition to these raw foods, holistic vets will sometimes recommend raw (uncooked) bones to help clean teeth. This isn’t necessarily a horrible option, but remember that raw bones can splinter very, very easily. If your pet (like our Maizy) is an eager, avid chewer, it can take mere seconds for him/her to swallow these jagged shards — which can then damage the esophagus, tear the stomach lining, get lodged within the intestine, even cause internal bleeding. Many pet parents prefer not to risk these serious consequences. Two Bostons carries a number of much safer chewing alternatives — including Bully Sticks, Antler Chewz, Terrabones, Himalayan Dog Chews, Halo Spot’s Chews, and StarMark’s Everlasting Treat Ball — that can help your pet dislodge starchy mouth residue and clear away plaque naturally, while providing constructive stress-relief. Ask one of our Team Members for additional suggestions.

In our next blog, we’ll talk a bit about manual removal techniques such as teeth brushing (which, believe it or not, can actually be a really fun experience for your pet!). Then, in a later blog, we’ll mention certain food additive products that can help keep plaque and tartar at bay. Have dental health tips of your own? Share them with us below!

MBB_Profile

So much in life depends upon your perspective. My husband, for instance, is from Maryland; and he will openly inform you that any crab cake you’re eating, anywhere outside the Chesapeake Bay region, was “not made the right way” (which doesn’t stop me from eating them, but still). When I say the word “tartar” to my husband, he thinks immediately of a mayonnaise-based condiment. My mother, on the other hand, has turned out more pies, cakes, cookies, muffins, and breakfast breads in her lifetime than the average Panera. When I say the word “tartar” to my mother, she thinks immediately of a powdered baking ingredient.

But if I say the word “tartar” to those of us who are pet parents, it’s likely we think about teeth – or maybe more specifically, the professional dental cleanings so many pets undergo to keep tartar at bay.  It’s true that many pets today – who enjoy a domesticated lifestyle that does not require them to hunt live game and break down tough, fibrous material — have significant tartar build-up on their teeth.

 

heart day dental

During National Pet Dental Health Month, pet parents everywhere are reminded that we can do a lot to safeguard our pets’ pearly whites!

 

Tartar, in this sense of the word, is plaque that has calcified and hardened. It sits along the gum line and can irritate the soft tissue, causing an inflammatory condition we call gingivitis. Inflamed gums can pull away from the teeth, creating tiny areas where bacteria can become trapped. This process is often responsible for that stereotypical “dog breath” we associate with many of our canine friends (and dog breath, contrary to popular belief, is not normal). In its more advanced stages, though, it can also lead to periodontal disease that causes infections and bone loss – not to mention extreme mouth pain for your pet, and even problems in other parts of the body.

Many people may think “Well, that’s my vet’s job – I’ll just have my dog’s teeth professionally cleaned every so often.” This is a valid perspective, but keep in mind that a professional vet cleaning requires IV sedation, plus recovery time from potent anesthetics that can carry their own risks and complications. It’s also not inexpensive, and normally requires your pup to stay at the vet’s office for a good part of day — a stressful experience in itself.

Fortunately, in the same way that we humans brush our own teeth daily, there are ways to manage this build-up process in our pets so that the amount of plaque and tartar on the teeth is greatly reduced.  That’s not to say that your vet shouldn’t inspect your pet’s mouth, and regularly – but some of my pets have never actually needed a professional cleaning, because we’ve become so vigilant about their dental health.

 

DentalHealth_Overview

“Dog breath” is NOT normal! It indicates a bacterial buildup in the mouth. Diet strategies, anti-plaque and anti-tartar supplement products, and manual removal are all ways that we can help keep pet teeth clean and healthy.

 

If you’d like to take more control over your own pet’s dental health, it involves an easy-to-adopt management routine that can fall into any (or all) of these three main categories:

  1. Diet/feeding strategies
  2. Manual removal techniques
  3. Additive products that target plaque and tartar

None of these tactics is incredibly time-intensive or cost-prohibitive. In fact, probably the biggest challenge is getting into the habit, while making sure each measure you choose to take is palatable (and not stressful) to your furry friend.

This month, we’ll be talking about these steps in a series of dental health blogs where we’ll describe some useful techniques, dietary enhancements, and specialized products that help protect your pup’s pearly whites for a lifetime. If you’d like to get additional insights in the meantime, ask anyone on our Two Bostons team for insights and suggestions!