Do Wolves Go to the Dentist?
Pet Dental Health Month
Since this is Pet Dental Health Month, we here at Northwest Naturals decided to tackle this subject. Interestingly, we didn’t have much to share since raw fed dogs who are occasionally given raw bones rarely have dental problems. Dr. Katie Kangas a Californian veterinarian writing in “Dogs Naturally Magazine” (May 2020) had some great points about dental health for our pets which I am going to summarize for the benefit of all of our dogs.
Diet and Nutrition for Dental Health
Dr. Kangas’ first point is that a pet’s diet and nutrition is of paramount importance. She suggests that a raw diet including finely ground bones and raw meaty bones are your animal’s first defense against tooth decay. This is because raw bones provide natural enzymes that help fight plaque. Here is her advice on choosing an appropriate bone:
“Veterinary dentists report that large types of raw bones, such as
Marrowbones, rarely cause broken teeth…in contrast to small
bones. This has to do with dog anatomy and how your dog chews
his bones. Larger, bulky objects aren’t chewed with the same
angle and force on the large teeth at the back of the cheek and
mouth compared to smaller and longer objects. In fact, common
items known to break dogs’ teeth are nylon bones, cooked bones,
antlers, hooves and bully sticks.”
Northwest Naturals Raw Marrowbones
Northwest Naturals provides packages of raw marrowbones in these sizes:
1” — 8 in pack
2” — 4 in pack
4” — 2 in pack
If in doubt about size, go larger to reduce any chance of choking, but always monitor your pets when eating bones.
Also our packages of freeze-dried chicken, duck, and turkey necks provide raw bone benefits, with the cleanliness advantage of being freeze-dried. Dogs love these necks which are totally consumable and are full of collagen and glucosamine as well as providing the teeth cleaning advantages of all raw bones.
Next Dr. Kangas mentions the benefits of antioxidants in guarding against chronic oxidative stress. Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants and fresh vegetables and fruits make up 18.5% of our canine diet formulas. Coenzyme Q10 has been associated with reducing periodontal disease and folate is helpful in aiding gum tissue. Both nutrients are abundant in organ meats and fatty fish.
Probiotics and Fatty Acids
Other players in the dental health field are probiotics and fatty acids. According to Dr. Kangas fatty acids “help manage dental inflammation… of the gingival tissue.” Probiotics, according to her, “provide oral health benefits when you give them orally or apply them directly to the gums…use a gel or liquid or powdered probiotic and rub it on the gums.”
Most dogs fed a raw diet will never have to have their teeth brushed, but Dr. Kangas reminds us that manual toothbrushing may still be necessary for some pets, particularly small dogs who are especially susceptible for dental problems. She recommends diluting a “pure therapeutic oil… (such as) clove, lemon, peppermint, orange, basil, myrrh and copaiba” and applying one of them to the toothbrush for added benefits. Let’s give Dr. Kangas a big “Thank you!” for some wonderful suggestions on how to keep our pet’s smiling during Pet Dental Health month and all year round!
Our dogs are simply familiar, domesticated wolves albeit many generations removed from their ancestors. Feed your dog a species-appropriate raw diet, take reasonable dental precautions and you, too, will rarely have to take him or her to the dentist.