'TIL BREATH DO US PART
Posted on August 01 2019
Fresher than a flower...
by Talia Colosimo
If you’re anything like me, you can’t resist the intoxicating aroma of puppy breath. Yes, puppy breath. (I’ve even seen candles that proudly boast that exact ‘note’.) Who knows (better yet, who cares?) about the exact chemistry behind the heart-melting scent – be it the result of a steady diet of mother’s milk or the effects of an unadulterated digestive system? All you are certain of is the spell it casts on you.
Somewhere along the lines, however, that welcome wafting of puppy breath transforms into the parrying of your pup’s snout if only to evade the hellfire spewing from it. Which, of course, is why we’re choosing to highlight the importance of doggy dental care. And why not? As humans, our general health directly corresponds to the health of our mouths, and so, it would be plain silly to assume otherwise for our four-legged friends.
As it so happens, veterinarians persistently hound dog owners to brush their pup’s teeth daily – though I think it’s safe to say the majority of us don’t follow through. And inevitably with time, age and use, we witness the accumulation of plaque and the presence of normal degradation or worse, irritated gums, abscesses or infections and nefarious odors that are too often indicative of health issues far more severe. Luckily, there are preventative measures we can take to ensure that the quality of their oral cavities is up to snuff. And truth be told, it’s not a stretch from the instructions that we are implored to follow.
Foremost, feeding your dog whole, nutritious foods (those made from meats, vegetables and fruits) will not only nourish his body, but also promote better gut health, and thus promise better breath and stronger teeth. Foods made with by-products, meals and cereal grains, on the other hand, are likely to stick around his teeth a little longer and even build up over time. And though we recommend limiting the table scraps offered to your pets, if you’re going to cave to those guilt-inducing, wanton eyes we suggest opting for the likes of fresh fruits and vegetables. Carrots, apple slices (though you must ensure there are no seeds present) and squash, for example, are replete with nutrients excellent for a dog’s dental health, and the denser and often crunchy textures lend themselves to plaque removal. Even still, allot no more than 10% of his daily intake to such snacks to avoid unnecessary weight gain, begging and other adverse behavioral patterns and even the vetoing of his dog bowl altogether. Moderation is still important.
In addition to the contents of our refrigerator crisper-drawers, are the dried meat treats specifically intended for canine consumption. (Sadly, our delectable saucissons and soppresatas are simply too fatty and sodium-laden to even be considered adequate snack options for our precious pooches.) Treats such as dried beef ears, snouts, tendons, esophagi and the ever-so-coveted “bully sticks” (perhaps, I’ll let you look those up...) provide optimal chewing action that essentially “brush” your dog’s teeth when, well, an actual brush isn’t at your disposal. Rubber or nylon chew toys and bones of the larger variety (think bovine) are largely recommended as well, though there are some veterinarians partial to the idea of excluding bones altogether. Nevertheless, if your dog is one who exercises his primal right to let no part of a cow go to waste, then ensure that the bones on which he gnaws are uncooked and larger in size as they are much stronger and will not break or splinter nearly as easily.
And if the dawn of the New Year has inspired you to adopt some healthy, new habits, what’s one more - especially for the sake of your most beloved, fur-bearing baby? If you consider things from a perspective that all things are connected, attempting to establish some sort of doggy dental routine in addition to the aforementioned suggestions, in essence, not only improves the quality of their life, it may very well prolong it. Surely, we would never expect your dog’s toothbrush to get as frequent of use as, say, that new gym membership *wink*, however, committing to your canine’s - er - canines, whether it’s once a week or twice a month, is certainly a better option than foregoing the chore altogether. Naturally, we’d encourage you to start small and work your way to a more frequent and well-established regimen.
Well. Now that YOU are undoubtedly equipped with the basics on doggy dentistry, it’s high time your dog join in on all the fun. And just how have we made this experience less excruciating for him? Well, by scouring sources low and high for tasty toothpaste recipes you can make, use, and store at home. We’ve read. We’ve researched. We’ve settled on an adapted/adaptable version of one from Organic Authority (organicauthority.com) to both polish and please the teeth and taste buds of your furry companions – cats included! Baking soda and salt are utilized as mild abrasives that will aid in the removal of plaque and stains from your pet’s teeth, while the addition of bouillon and animal-friendly herbs lend a tempting taste and smell. Lastly, coconut oil proves both palatable and purposeful as a binder of the remaining ingredients. As it’s popularity for promoting oral hygiene in humans via oil pulling has skyrocketed, coconut oil boasts a myriad of doggy dental benefits as well, from the expulsion of harmful bacteria and bad breath to reducing inflammation and improving overall gum health. And if ingested? Perfectly acceptable, nay, encouraged, as it’s aptly demonstrated to have almost panacean qualities that may reduce or slow the progression of degenerative diseases, aid in digestion, promote healthy weight and so on. In the end, we’re confident this concoction will be dog tested, parent approved.
For the Pup Paste:
6 T Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cube of Bouillon (Chicken, Beef or Vegetable)
1 tsp of Fresh Parsely or Mint, Finely Chopped
2 tsp Coconut Oil, Warmed to Liquid State
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until they form a paste. Add more coconut oil, as needed.
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, finger brush, or a gauze wrapped snuggly around your finger, apply a pea-sized amount of the toothpaste. Next, allow your pet to smell the toothpaste before you attempt to brush. If your pet opens his mouth, gently insert the brush (if using) at a 45° angle to the tooth surface with the bristles pointing towards the gum line. (At first, you may only be able to clean a few teeth, but don’t worry - with practice your dog should adapt relatively quickly. Keep in mind that some pets are more resistant than others so be patient. As your dog grows a little more comfortable with the experience, rotate around his mouth to ensure that eventually all teeth are polished.) Work the toothbrush in a circular motion, covering small areas at a time. Eventually, you’d like to aim to spend a total of 30 seconds on each side of his mouth.
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Halve the recipe if you do not intend to use daily.
Note: It needs to be mentioned that if in the event you elect not to create your own toothpaste, that a veterinarian-approved, dog-safe polish should still be utilized. Human toothpaste should NEVER be used on a pet as it contains fluoride, which can potentially be catastrophic if ingested.