Battling Dog Breath with Nutrition for Pet Dental Health

The old adage of “you are what you eat” holds true, no matter if you have two legs or four. While we all know that routine dental examinations and thorough cleanings under anesthesia are vital for keeping our pet’s teeth in tip top shape, there are other things that can help the cause. Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital wants you to know all about how nutrition and pet dental health are related!

The Science of Bad Breath

When your pet eats something, particles of whatever he or she is chewing mix with saliva. Most of this goes down the esophagus and heads into the stomach for digestion, but inevitably there are small pieces of this mix that becomes stuck to the teeth. This sticky substance is known as plaque.

If not removed, plaque continues to coat the teeth and eventually becomes mineralized. This cement-like deposit is what is called tartar. Tartar is much more difficult to remove than plaque.

Both plaque and tartar can trap bacteria. While some bacteria normally live in the mouth, certain types thrive in and around these substances. The predominant bacteria that like to grow in conjunction with these dental changes produces lots of Sulphur. Sulphur is well known for being a stinky gas, so it’s no wonder that pets with dental disease can often stop a Mack truck with their breath.

Nutrition for Pet Dental Health

So what is a pet owner to do? Routine examinations and tooth brushings are the foundation of proper dental health, but it all starts with what your pet puts in his or her mouth. There are several aspects of nutrition for pet dental health to take into consideration.

The dry versus wet dilemma – The coarse nature of dry kibble pet foods has some benefits over canned diets. As a pet chews dry food, some of the rough edges of the kibble can help to knock plaque and tartar off of the teeth. This makes dry food a better choice for pets prone to dental disease in most situations, although choosing dry food alone is not usually as effective at battling dental disease near the  gumline.

Not all kibble is created equal – Some dry foods do a better job at battling plaque than others. Dental-specific diets such as Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d are made with a larger kibble size that has a fibrous texture meant to help scrub the teeth. Dental diets are a great choice for many pets, but there may be reasons we might recommend a different type of food for your fur baby. We’re always more than happy to discuss your pet’s individual situation with you.

Treating dental disease – Much like diets, there are pet treats and chews available that aim to support your pet’s dental health. These options often are designed to help scrub the teeth and clear away plaque buildup. Many treats, however, claim to improve dental health, but be sure to choose ones that are shown by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to truly help battle plaque and tartar.

Most products designed to aid in dental health work as preventatives. This means that if your pet already has dental disease, these products cannot treat the disease, but are certainly helpful in preventing progression.

If Fido or Fluffy’s mouth is a little reminiscent of a sewer pit, it’s probably time to come in for a dental examination. We are happy to work with you to put together a pet dental health plan and discuss how nutrition plays a role.