TERRIFIC TEEFS

 

A couple of decades ago, who would ever have imagined that 21st century dogs would have their own toothbrushes? Yet still no opposable thumbs…

 

It’s true that dogs aren’t as prone to tooth decay as human beings are, but despite the old adage that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a humans, dogs can still develop problems like tartar, plaque buildup and gum disease. Unfortunately these problems can lead to greater concerns than simply the aesthetic and olfactory unpleasantries of discoloured teeth and funky breath. Contemporary veterinary science now confirms that, like humans, these canine dental problems can lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease.

 

Luckily there are many pro-active ways you can contribute to your dog’s healthy smile! Here are a few that help keep Lulu’s teeth happy and healthy…

 

Green Apple Slices

Beef Ears

Chicken Necks

Brushing

Natural Alcohol-Free Dental Spray

 

Read on for the low-down on each…

Green Apple Slices

 

Fresh Green Apples play an important (and yummy!) part in Lulu’s dental health regime. Fresh raw apple contain malic acid which can, if fed regularly, prevent plaque and tartar build-up, reduce bacteria and help to keep teeth clean. The more tart the apple (like Granny Smith) the higher the malic acid content. I give Lulu three green apple slices after her breakfast, daily.  I always wash the apples thoroughly before slicing them to remove any residual pesticides, and remove the core (apple seeds contain traces of cyanide). The Apple Cider Vinegar I add to Lulu’s dinner, also contains malic acid making it beneficial for her oral health while systemically promoting healthy digestion, immunity, ph balance and skin.

 

 

Beef Ears

 

Lulu’s absolute favourite healthy teeth habit! I give her 1 or 2 of these delightfully grotesque little things each week. They’re a fabulous natural chew alternative for hard chewers who aren’t safe with rolled or composite rawhide chews or raw bones. Beef ears won’t shift hard tartar, but they do help wear away the soft  plaque that builds up on the teeth after a meal. Keeping plaque at bay is important as it’s the stuff that turns into tartar left unchecked. I always make sure to buy natural, preservative free Australian beef ears. Brisbane’s own Clear Dog Treats 100% Australian Cows Ears are Lulu’s favourites – I buy them in bags of 50 which makes them cost effective enough to give to her every second day.

 

NB. Always take care to know the ingredients and origin of the treats you’re feeding your dog, if you don’t make them yourself. Avoid buying any kind of dog chews or treats made in China – many of which contain toxic levels of chemicals known to cause kidney failure). Beware the phrase ‘Made From Local and/or Imported Ingredients’.

 

 

Chicken Necks

 

Aside from being an excellent source of protein and minerals, raw bones are a great help when it comes to keeping a dog’s teeth free from scale and tartar.  Unfortunately, when it comes to bones, Lulu is what’s known as a hard chewer –  in her fast and furious approach she quickly bites off chunks that are too large to swallow safely without risk of choking or blockage. Made up of smooth edged, relatively soft, tiny vertebrae bones, chicken necks are a safe solution for hard chewers. The tiny vertebrae bones are too small and soft to be a choking or blockage hazard, but the action of crunching them up does wonders to scrape unwanted grime from those pearly whites. Lulu has loved crunching up chicken necks ever since she was a puppy. I feed her three free-range, hormone+antibiotic-free chicken necks for breakfast once a week.

 

NB. Never feed cooked bones. Aside from being harder for dogs to digest, they have a dangerous tendency to splinter and potentially risk bowel perforation.

 Brushing

 

Chewing beef ears and chicken necks will absolutely help keep the points of the teeth squeaky clean and healthy, but they’re just not as effective on the sides of the teeth. Cleaning the sides of the teeth is super important as damage often occurs because tartar gets under the edges of the gums. Thank goodness for bacon flavoured toothpaste!

 

The younger you start brushing the easier it is (puppyhood is the ideal time).  Learning at a young age that having their teeth brushed is both yummy and fun will set them (and you!) up for a life with healthy nashers, so-not-disgusting breath, and all the systemic health benefits that come with it! But, contrary to the myth, you can still teach old dogs new tricks! I started brushing Lulu’s teeth at age 7 and with baby steps, praise and encouragement she took to it beautifully. The trick is to be gentle but persistent, watch for signs of anxiety (time to give it a break) and never to scald. Pausing for cuddles and praise after brushing each section helps to make it a positive experience for everyone.

 

I try to brush Lulu’s teeth 3-4 times a week (sometimes it’s more like 1-2 times when things are super busy!) using Nylabone Senior Toothpaste (bacon flavour), which she adores. After thoroughly brushing all of her nashers with toothpaste I finish up with some coconut oil on the toothbrush (which she also loves) and spread it liberally around her mouth, teeth and gums. Coconut oil contains proven antimicrobial fatty acids (notably the medium-chain triglycerides lauric, caprylic and capric acids) that can help inhibit oral bacteria1 and promote healthy teeth, gums and fresh breath. I’ve tried a few different dog-specific toothbrushes over the years, but surprisingly enough her favourite (and subsequently the most effective) is a simple human Colgate toothbrush from the local pharmacy, with medium strength bristles.

 

 

Natural Alcohol-Free Dental Spray

 

After watching the canine dental spray market develop over the last few years, and after a lot of my own research, I have only found only one brand of dental spray that is free of chemicals and alcohol and therefore safe to use on your pet – Denta-Sure by Natural Wonder Pets.  This stuff isn’t cheap, especially if you’re outside the USA and paying into shipping(!), but from my own experience I can tell you that it’s truly amazing and makes brushing exponentially more effective. Dental-Sure has a beautifully simple ingredients list: distilled water, grapefruit seed extract, grape seed extract, propolis extract and a little natural stevia to sweeten (I’ve been using stevia myself for 20 years now). Lulu loves the taste and pricks her ears up whenever she sees the bottle. The kickass ingredient is propolis (made by bees) – research has proven that it contains unique properties that stop the activity of the enzyme that causes plaque.

 

I first bit the international-shipping bullet and ordered some Denta-Sure from the USA after a really intense few months of working long hours, painting madly for an exhibition, resulting in a lapse in Lulu’s regular teeth cleaning regime (life happens sometimes!).  After a handful of months without her regular teeth cleaning, for the first time in her life, Lulu started cultivating some pretty funky breath and visible tartar. The need for an intervention became quickly apparent (oh, the guilt!) as I didn’t want to put her through the trauma of a a professional cleaning session if I could help it. Expensive international shipping? TOTALLY WORTH IT. Denta-Sure way exceeded my expectations. After just two weeks of spraying Lulu’s mouth twice daily, with one brushing session about 1 week in, her breath was back to being utterly non-offensive and the visible gunk that had built up on her teeth had noticeably diminished. After a month of spraying twice daily all the visible build up was gone and her gums returned to a happy healthy pale pink. From there on I dropped back to spraying once a day – a maintenance routine that (along with as-regular-as-I-can-manage brushing) seems to be doing a great job of stopping new plaque from forming and keeping Lulu’s mouth fresh and healthier than ever.

 

Where to get it: I purchase Lulu’s Denta-Sure from the manufacturers website in USA (as far as I know that’s the only place it’s available at this time): http://www.naturalwonderpets-store.com/natural-pet-dental-spray-p/dss2.htm

 

NB. Please do remember, if you can’t source a natural alcohol-free, chemical-free dental spray you’re better not to use one at all. The consequences of using an alcohol-based spray or one with chemical ingredients on the overall health of your dog can be far worse than the effects of plaque and tartar. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Lix NorthArtist, Illustrator, Photographer, Designer. Owned by The Lulu Bully.

 

I grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand. Forever fond of my gumboots and jumping in muddy puddles, my childhood best friends were the farm working dogs (huntaways, bearded and border collies) and the family spaniels. Animals have always been an intrinsic part of my life, I spent a lot of my youth caring for farm and domestic animals, hand rearing orphaned animals and watching and assisting farm hands and vets. One of my earliest memories is the feeling of magic and awe as a toddler watching my grandmother help a litter of puppies into the world. As legend has it, my first word was ‘woof’.

 

My passion for holistic health was born from the challenge of living with a bunch of pesky polymorphic gene mutations (MTHFR and CBS SNPs). 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered me to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care.

Disclaimer:
The content on lulubully.com is a fluid, living collection of notes, personal thoughts and experiences, regularly edited, tweaked and updated as my ideas evolve. All opinions are my own and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease. Information provided and products mentioned are not necessarily approved by any governing body or health professional. Discretion, common sense and personal responsibility are advised when applying any of the ideas expressed to your own personal situation.