What Your Dogs Need for Dog Dental Health

By Jennifer Viegas

What Your Dogs Need for Dog Dental Health

Dogs are mammals as we are, so their teeth react to plaque the way ours do. Plaque is a buildup of food debris and bacteria that can eat away at tooth enamel. If it isn’t properly washed or brushed away, plaque can react with mineral deposits and turn into tartar. Dark yellow or brown accumulations on teeth provide evidence for tartar. Once established, it can be very difficult to remove.

Dental health is difficult enough for us humans to maintain, even with our regular brushings with high-tech toothpaste and drinking of water treated with fluoride. It’s no wonder that so many dogs suffer from advanced tooth decay, requiring extractions and even antibiotics if deep infections set in. Regular professional teeth cleanings for your dog at its veterinary office, along with your at-home tooth-brushing, help prevent both plaque and tartar buildup.

What your dog eats and drinks can help too. Fresh, clean water helps your dog naturally wash away oral debris. Some manufacturers now offer water additives for dogs that they say improve dental health. The dog food -- including treats -- you select is equally, if not more, important. High-quality foods for dogs, with minimal fillers and premium ingredients, help prevent bacteria from forming, as bacteria tend to love sugar and carbohydrates.

Look for dog foods that contain SHMP, which stands for sodium hexametaphosphate. Through complex chemical reactions with plaque and plaque components, SHMP helps prevent the formation of tartar. A number of scientific studies show that when dogs consume meals and treats containing SHMP, they experience up to 80 percent less tartar than do canines that are fed other foods. Dogs cannot chew sugar-free gum, of course, but consuming SHMP-containing edibles can have a similar cleansing effect.

But tooth care for dogs should begin from day one. If you stay vigilant, you will save money and you will save your dog a lot of painful extractions, and possibly even worse health complications, later in life.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/deviousrlm

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Dog Daily. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.

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