When my husband and I adopted our Golden Retriever, Milo, two years ago, and our French Bulldog, Maya, last year we loved their personalities but had a problem. They both came to us with horrible breath and the vet at Capital Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Elaine Kimbrough, told us they had periodontal disease brought on by poor dental care. Dr. Kimbrough had a Golden herself, Sully, and mentioned that we needed to make a serious effort to make sure their dental health was maintained.
Dental health seemed to be of particular importance to Maya, our French Bulldog. She told us that “generally, smaller dogs are more likely to develop periodontal dental disease as they have less jaw bone that supports dental health.” Needless to say, we got the message and dental health is now a major priority in our home!
Upon the entry exam at the vet, Dr. Kimbrough did clean, polish and examine Milo’s teeth and noticed a few teeth well on their way to being rotten and needing extraction. Luckily, that was two years ago and we were able to reverse the poor dental health and both Milo and Maya now have great canine oral health!
Canine Dental Health is Important
One question I asked was why dog dental care was important and what I could do? The vet explained that just like human teeth, there needed to be regular cleaning to fight plaque and tartar build-up. Dog’s overall health and wellness is directly related to dental health as a bad tooth is very painful for dogs.
Modern medicine, better diets and better educated owners all contribute to dog’s living longer these days. With longer life spans, dog dental care has become a primary concern for dog owners. Severe dental problems have actually been linked to death, so yes I got the message dental care is important!
Poor dental health can lead to dogs changing their eating habits and can force dog owners to change foods to accommodate for rotten or missing teeth. This can lead to dogs changing their behavior and can deteriorate quality of life.
Dental Health for Milo and Maya at Home
Some simple solutions that I implemented for Milo and Maya at home have helped maintain their teeth and gums. Dr. Kimbrough mentioned the gums should have a sharp edge against the teeth with pink gums. Poor dental care will begin to change the gum color with it will cause an odor, we found our culprit for the bad breath upon adoption!
We were told that both Milo and Maya had gingivitis with red and inflamed gums caused by plaque and tartar build-up. While the professional cleanings that they got helped, we were told that we needed a plan to care for Milo and Maya’s teeth at home in order to keep up their dental health.
First, we knew we had to have regular tooth brushing, which we do weekly on the weekends. We have a small toothbrush and dog tooth paste we got a Walmart. The toothpaste is chicken flavored to help with palatability and both Milo and Maya will lick the toothpaste as they think it tastes good! Once we give them a taste they will usually sit still enough for 2-3 minutes of brushing. While we have been told that we can use our fingers to brush, we still prefer to use the brush rather than our fingers.
Now in full transparency, we were told to brush teeth daily or every-other-day but I’m sorry to say that we really haven’t been able to do that, but rather the weekly brushing is what we do. Knowing that we don’t stay on top of the brushing as much as the vet recommended, we have tried to find other solutions that we can use at home to reduce plaque and tartar build-up.
Dental Products for Milo and Maya
Knowing that we had to supplement our weekly tooth brushing routine, we looked for products to help us with dental health.
For Maya, our French Bulldog, we started with the Nylabone Puppy Chew Dental Bone, which we got from PetSmart. This seemed to work for a few weeks but it was clear that Maya needed something a bit more substantial as she was getting bored. Alternatively, we started Milo, our Golden, with the Nylabone DuraChew Chew Toy large, which he also seemed to be bored with quickly.
We knew we had to get something to help with dental care that they could consistently chew on each day. We looked to natural dog chews that were long lasting and we landed on Canine Chews.
For Maya, we got the 5” Chicken Wrapped Rawhide Twists, which we purchased from Amazon. From a palatability stand-point, Maya was all over these and really chewed them down to the last bite. The twist of the chew did seem to have a good scraping action against the teeth and gums that did seem to help with plaque and tartar control. The size of the chew was fairly thin and was a perfect size for the French Bulldog. With 125 pieces in the bag, we feed one per day after potty time as a bit of reward and the bag lasts a few months.
For Milo, we needed something a bit more substantial and since he’s a fairly picky chewers we decided to go with the 8-9” Rawhide Retriever Chicken Flavor, which we also purchased from Amazon. Milo will certainly chew through the entire bone if we let him but we do try to take it away once he has chewed through about 5 inches of it. This way, we’re able to keep feeding him these daily without compromising his calorie intake.
I’m happy to report that both Maya and Milo have just had their one-year check-up with Dr. Kimbrough and they both had great reports! We did decide to do their professional dental cleaning to maintain the dental health. I do feel that we have really turned it around over the last year and am thankful for all the help from Dr. Kimbrough and the products that we have found to work. Certainly a happier group of dogs at home!