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Dental Month

  • Posted on
  • By Meri Book Allen
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Dental Month

When your feline friend or canine companion has red gums,yellow teeth, and stinky breath, it could be a sign of serious oral disease that could, if left untreated, lead to devastating affects on your pet’s quality of life.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and that means it's time to get educated!

Dental Disease is more than just a cosmetic issue. When your feline friend or canine companion has red gums,yellow teeth, and stinky breath, it could be a sign of serious oral disease that could, if left untreated, lead to devastating affects on your pet’s quality of life. Neglecting your pet’s teeth and gums can cause chronic pain issues that may even be at the center of certain behavioral problems. That’s why National Pet Dental Health Month, observed all through February, is so important.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some kind of oral disease by the age of 3. It’s one of the most common problems faced by our four-legged family members. Take this month to check your pet’s oral health, and make sure you know how to care for their teeth. National Pet Dental Health Month is the perfect time to call your veterinarian and schedule a dental check up for your furry family members.


What is Periodontal Disease and How Does it Develop?

Periodontal disease primarily affects the gums, teeth, and the supporting structures of the teeth. Secondarily, internal organs are negatively impacted by periodontal disease.

It all starts with bacteria, as tooth surfaces are coated with a thin layer of plaque (bacteria) hours after eating or cleaning. Within days, plaque accumulates and becomes yellow tartar that’s visible to the naked eye. Weeks later, tartar mineralizes into shell-like calculus. Gingivitis (gum inflammation) develops throughout the process and permits easier entry of bacteria into the bloodstream. Periodontitis (bone loss) ultimately occurs, which weakens the tooth’s attachment to the underlying alveolar bone.

Periodontal disease has four stages:
Stage 1 Gingivitis—redness at the gum margin and presence of bad breath
Stage 2 Early periodontitis—less than 25% support loss
Stage 3 Established periodontitis—between 25-50% support loss
Stage 4 Advanced periodontitis—greater than 50% support loss


Besides the Mouth, Are Other Organ Systems Affected?

Periodontal disease has health consequences beyond bad breath and tooth loss. Vital organs including the heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas are affected. Additionally, the immune system becomes taxed by the constant need to prevent oral cavity bacteria from entering the body and is less able to perform day-to-day functions like tissue repair and stress management.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease established an association between mouth bacteria and the development of Alzheimer’s disease in humans, so there’s likely a comparable correlation occurring in the mouths and brains of dogs and cats having periodontal disease.

Overall, your pet’s entire body is negatively affected by periodontal disease, especially as the condition progresses to Stage 3 and 4. Permitting the condition to go untreated increases the probability that internal organ damage will occur. Additionally, tooth loss or the need for extractions is more likely with advanced periodontal disease.


How is Periodontal Disease Treated?

Owners can assess their cat or dog’s degree of periodontal disease by gently lifting the muzzle (“lips”) and pulling back the cheek margins on both the right and left side to look for evidence of tartar, calculus, and gingivitis that may not be apparent when the mouth is closed or partially open. If such changes are seen, then your pet needs a professional evaluation, cleaning, and possibly other treatments (tooth extraction, etc.).

The most thorough dental cleaning is performed when a pet goes under general anesthesia, which permits cleaning under the gumline, thorough teeth polishing, x-ray assessment of the attachment to the teeth and underlying bone, and dental extractions (if needed).

Pets having mild periodontal disease and those that are very cooperative may be candidates to have their teeth cleaned without going under anesthesia (non-anesthetic dental) provided it’s done by a veterinarian or certified veterinary technician.

General anesthesia is actually the safer procedure, in part because it involves the use of an endotracheal tube to deliver oxygen and anesthetic gas directly into your pet’s respiratory tract. The endotracheal tube protects the trachea (“windpipe”) and lungs from infection by mouth bacteria aerosolized when a scaling device removes plaque, tartar, and calculus from the teeth. Additionally, there’s no struggling on the part of the animal patient who may not be so appreciative of the attempt to scale his teeth. Gingivitis and dental disease occurring under the gumline are painful conditions, so any procedures used in their attempted resolution will cause your pet to experience discomfort that otherwise could be avoided during an anesthetic procedure.

By the way, your pet is never “too old for anesthesia.” He certainly can be “too unhealthy,” but there’s never a “too old” status that should prevent you from most-thoroughly addressing his dental disease. Would Grandma not go under anesthesia to have surgery to resolve a potentially life-threatening problem just because she’s 80? I think not.

Your veterinarian’s physical exam and diagnostics tests (blood, urine, and fecal testing, x-rays, ultrasound, etc.) can diagnose normal or abnormally functioning organs (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc. and determine if your pet is or is not a good anesthetic candidate. Of course, sick patients can be made healthier so that anesthesia will be safely performed under the guidance of an experienced veterinarian and veterinary technician team.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some kind of oral disease by the age of 3. It’s one of the most common problems faced by our four-legged family members. Take this month to check your pet’s oral health, and make sure you know how to care for their teeth. National Pet Dental Health Month is the perfect time to call your veterinarian and schedule a dental check up for your furry family members.


Keeping on top of your pet’s dental health has lasting positive effects. Even more good news, some studies suggest that maintaining oral health can add up to five years to your pet’s life!


Here's some recommendations from some of our staff:

Sam's Signature Necks & NorthWest Naturals Necks

Before we delve into the many benefits of raw poultry bones, it is important to first make the distinction between feeding raw poultry bones and cooked poultry bones. Many of us are familiar with the fact that we should never, ever feed cooked poultry bones to dogs, but do you know the reason behind this warning? First off, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of raw poultry bones:

  • They are soft and flexible
  • They can be easily crushed, without splintering
  • They do not splinter when broken
  • They contain naturally occurring moisture and cartilage

When a poultry bone has been exposed to heat through the cooking process, many things change. First of all, the chemical structure of the bone is altered. Water, cartilage, and blood vessel structures are removed and the bone becomes dry and brittle. It is no longer flexible, and without the connective tissues and moisture intact, it will easy snap into small, sharp pieces. It is the dangerously sharp pieces that pose the highest threat to our pets. Not only can the sharp edges puncture the trachea, intestines, and bowels, but they are no longer digestible and will stay intact through the digestion process, increasing the risk of damage to the pet. It is very important to monitor our pets (especially those scavenging dogs!) to make sure they do not have access to cooked poultry bones.

Raw poultry bones are not only safe for our pets to eat, but they offer many additional nutritional benefits to a pet’s diet, such as:

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Enzymes and amino acids
  • Calcium, phosphorous, and other trace minerals
  • Low-fat meat source

The Glucosamine and chondroitin found in raw poultry bones are in a “bio-available” form, which means that they are already in the most digestible and ready-to-use, natural form. For example, this differs from a dry glucosamine supplement because a pet would have to first re-hydrate the dry supplement and then try to pull something useful from what is available, which is often not the complete amount of what is fed. A natural bio-available form is absorbed by the intestines in the regular digestion process and nearly every bit of the glucosamine is usable. In fact, it is encouraged to replace the use of glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements with three weekly feedings of raw poultry bones in a size appropriate for your pet.

Enzymes and amino acids not only aid in digestion and the formation of proteins in the pet’s body, they are also an excellent way to clean the pet’s teeth. Through the chewing process, the enzymes are actually more effective in breaking down tough layers of plaque than daily brushings!

Maintaining proper calcium and phosphorous levels in your pet’s diet is essential. Again, the calcium and phosphorous found in raw poultry bones are in a bio-available form and can easy be used by your pet.

Poultry bones offer a low-fat source of meat and nutrients that can be used to replace up to three of your pet’s regular meals per week. Choose poultry bones that are appropriate for the size of your pet and simply feed only the poultry bone for that meal. Always supervise your pet when feeding raw meaty bones.

In addition to all of the nutritional benefits, raw poultry bones are fun for your pet! Adding variety into your pet’s diet allows you both a break from the monotony of feeding the same meal every day and allows for varied sources for nutrition. It is very natural for dogs in the wild to seek out and chew on the bones of their prey and they enjoy the process.

Chicken and turkey necks are similar in makeup in that they have a nearly identical amino acid chain, but they do have a couple of nutritional differences. Turkey is higher is selenium, iron, and zinc, and is a slightly leaner meat. The Chicken Necks include more flesh on the bone and have the skin attached, which is a great source of those natural omega 3’s and 6’s.

Some things to keep in mind when feeding raw poultry bones:

Some dogs can “gulp” the whole bone. This means that they will swallow the whole bone without chewing it. This is actually a very natural way for a dog to eat in the wild, since they do not have the ability to move their jaw from side to side to grind and chew their food. A raw bone is considerably easy for a dog to digest and so it shouldn’t cause any digestive issues, as long as your dog is in good health and the bone passes down their esophagus without problem. However, we always suggest that when you feed a raw poultry bone to a “gulper”, you hold half of the bone in your hand and let them chew off a small piece first.

Always feed raw poultry bones in a supervised environment. The backyard is a great place to offer one to your pet, but you can also try the bathtub (for smaller pets) or on a sheet in the kitchen. Just remember that this is a raw poultry product and any surfaces or materials that have come in contact with the poultry should be cleaned and disinfected.

Poultry bones can be given to dogs of all ages, but when feeding to a senior pet, or one who has compromised tooth health, be especially diligent in making sure they can handle the raw bone well.

Poultry bones can be used as meal replacements for your pet for up to three meals a week. There is no exact formula for how much raw bone your dog should have instead of their regular meal, but you can estimate based on the size of your dog and the amount of food they usually receive.



Answers Pet Food

Take a Bite Out of Oral Disease 

  • •Oral disease is prevalent among dogs (and cats). It’s a common belief within caregivers and some vets, that kibble or dry edibles clean pet’s teeth. It’s absolute nonsense. Kibble is high in starch (even grain free) which breaks down into sugar that feeds bacteria.
  • •Recommended by Veterinarians “Answers foods provide optimal nutrition to keep the tissues of the oral cavity at their healthiest level. Answers has unique products to help with the mechanical removal of plaque, namely fermented chicken and pig feet. These are great for dogs to chew on for healthy gums and teeth. They naturally “brush” teeth clean while being chewed, scraping away plaque. Fermentation provides good bacteria that help prevent plaque from forming and is wonderful for overall oral health. Fermented chicken and pig feet are also a good source of glucosamine from cartilage that supports bone health. Of course, what a veterinarian sees as tools for dental disease prevention, pets regard as yummy, fun treats. Oral disease can be deadly, and chances are that your dog is at risk. Defy the odds and prevent oral disease in your dog with the Answers approach.” ~ Dr. Doug

ProDen PlaqueOff Powder®

Dental care is unfortunately one of the most overlooked health issues pet owners are concerned with
Plaque bacteria constantly form in the mouth of all cats and dogs. Once plaque has calcified into tartar it can no longer be brushed off with a toothbrush. In many cases it has to be removed by a vet, using ultrasound.

ProDen PlaqueOff® Powder is a dietary supplement, suitable for both cats and dogs, which can help with good oral hygiene. A completely natural product.

ProDen PlaqueOff® Powder comes in a granulated form which is easily added to food every day. It is rich in natural iodine and contains important vitamins and minerals, and is free from artificial colours, preservatives, gluten and sugar. Specially formulated to appeal to our feline friends, ProDen PlaqueOff® Powder Cat contains all the benefits of ProDen PlaqueOff® Powder, but with added brewer’s yeast.






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