Don’t forget your pets’ dental health

Originally published in the Rolesville Buzz
March 2012

While the importance of dental care for humans is often stressed, we sometimes tend to overlook how important it can be in the health care of our canine friends. Just as a lack of proper dental care in humans can lead to numerous problems, including overall health issues, the lack of proper dental care in dogs can also result in serious issues.

Have you noticed lately that many products seem to be touting the benefits of probiotics? It seems everywhere you turn, there is a new yogurt or some other product on the market that now contains probiotics. Manufacturers claim it is the solution to all of our ailments. What are probiotics, are they really good for us and could they possibly be important for our dogs as well as us?

Probiotics and Dental Care

Probiotics are actually a type of live bacteria. While we commonly think of bacteria as being harmful, some bacteria are actually beneficial, and probiotics happens to be among them.

Everyone, including dogs, has good bacteria that live inside them. The idea behind including probiotics in your diet, or in your pet’s diet, is that we often do not have enough good bacteria in our bodies to combat the bad bacteria. It’s really a good guys vs. bad guys scenario.

When we replenish the good forms of bacteria in our bodies, they are able to flourish and combat the bad bacteria. It’s all about numbers. You want to have more good bacteria then bad bacteria in your body, and the same is true for your pet.

How do probiotics help dental issues in pets? Stop and think about it for a minute. What develops on teeth when they are not properly cared for? Plaque. What is plaque? It’s a bacteria, and not one of the good kinds.

When food is consumed, plaque builds up on teeth and in the mouth. When plaque isn’t removed it can turn into tartar, which is dead bacteria that have become calcified.

It’s important to remove plaque and tartar not just in our mouths and our teeth, but also for our pets as well. Reducing plaque and limiting tartar can help to prevent “doggie breath” and neutralize other odors.

Probiotic based oral sprays work by replenishing the good guys, or the good bacteria, in your pet’s mouth. When the good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria, they kill off the bad guys through a process known as competitive exclusion. There just are not enough resources for both the bad and the good bacteria to thrive. Increase the good bacteria, and the bad bacteria will eventually be displaced.

When looking for a probiotic oral spray for your pet, it is important to keep a few guidelines in mind.

  • First, you want to look for a productthat does not contain alcohol. This is extremely important, because alot of the sprays on the market do contain alcohol. Did you know that the high concentration of alcohol in mouthwash has been associated with oral cancer? Furthermore, alcohol just makes bad breath worse because of its drying effect.
  • Look for one that contains multiple strains of probiotics for the best results. At least 10 different strands are recommended.
  • Look for a product that does not contain genetically modified organisms. A non-GMO product will provide your pet with optimal health benefits.

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is a major commitment, but in the end your dog will live longer (yes, it can add up to three years to your dog’s life) and your dog’s kisses will bemuch more enjoyable.