Does your dog’s breath “knock you over” when he gets too close? Bad dog breath may be an indication of less than stellar oral health.
Dental hygiene is an important part of taking good care of your dog, so brushing and/or oral sprays should be part of his regular routine, in addition to regular vet check-ups. Fortunately for your dog, there are some foods out there that also support strong teeth and gums.
Bones (raw, not cooked)
Raw bones provide the calcium necessary for strong teeth and bones. Chewing on raw meaty bones does a great job of cleaning a dog’s teeth and helping to prevent the tartar formation that leads to gum inflammation. Raw bones also contain probiotic bacteria and enzymes that help maintain healthy bacterial flora in the dog’s mouth. These healthy bacteria act like soldiers, fighting and killing the harmful bacteria such as Streptococci sctinomyces before they take hold and multiply, causing gingivitis and other infections. Supervised chewing sessions are like a visit to the dentist without the anxiety. Dr. Cindy Kneebone suggests immature bones from lamb or chicken feet that you get from a trusted butcher. You can submerge in boiling water for five to ten seconds to kill off some bacteria before feeding.
This is a powerful antioxidant that not only supports cardiovascular health but also helps keep gums healthy. Consider adding it to your dog’s diet for long term dental support. CoQ10 is best absorbed in oil — first pressed olive oil makes a great partner. The suggested dosage is 0.25 to 1.0 mg per pound of body weight every day.
Cranberries contain numerous biologically active compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, anthocyanins and condensed tannins. Research has shown that pure cranberry juice may be just as powerful for fighting cavities as it is for bladder infections. A team of researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and New York’s Rutger’s University, found that many of the special substances found in cranberries may not only inhibit the enzymes associated with the formation of dental plaque, but can also stop the bacteria sticking to surfaces.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that a unique component in cranberry juice – a high molecular weight nondialysable material (NDM) — has the ability to reverse and inhibit certain oral bacteria responsible for dental plaque and periodontal disease. NDM has also been isolated in blueberries, raspberries, mangos, peaches, and plums.
Grapefruit seed extract
This is one of nature’s antiseptics. It can be used both topically and internally. GSE came on the scene back in the 1970s, when immunologist Dr. Jacob Harich was looking for a natural non-toxic alternative to antibiotics that would help the body resist bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. He found what he was looking for in the seeds and connecting tissue of the grapefruit. GSE exhibits significant antimicrobial activity at low concentration. Always dilute GSE before use. Place one to six drops in five ounces of water, then use a Q-tip or a gauze-covered finger to gently clean your dog’s teeth and gums.
Green tea is a rich source of flavonols. It’s made from tea leaves that have been dried in a special way to avoid oxidation of the phenolic compounds. The principal flavanol compounds in green tea are called catechins and include eipgallo catechin gallate (EGCG), which is thought to be the tea’s primary anti-cancer agent. Green tea is recognized as being beneficial to oral health. In humans, it has been shown to help prevent cavities. Check out decaffeinated freeze-dried green tea solids, commonly called green tea extract.
This herb is one of the world’s most concentrated food sources. It has potent antimicrobial properties that make it the perfect breath freshener. Parsley can be fed as a whole food or as a tincture or cool tea, as described in Mary L. Wulff-Tilford and Gregory L. Tilford’s All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets. When mixed into your dog’s food, an herbal tea provides most of what a dried or fresh herb offers. It can be added to his regular diet, where it is quickly and easily absorbed.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca)
Wild strawberries have a colourful history and have long been revered for their healing properties. The fruit acid cleans the teeth while the seeds act as an abrasive. Native Americans mashed wild strawberries into a paste and used it to remove tartar, clean the teeth, and alleviate toothaches.
Mint species including wild mint, catmint, spearmint, and peppermint, are nontoxic, and can be included in your dog’s diet to freshen breath and soothe the digestive tract. Mint is beneficial to the health of our dogs’ mouths and teeth because it helps to inhibit harmful bacterial growth, which can lead to tartar build-up.