Oral hygiene is something that many people don’t view as a crucial practice for good health. It isn’t until the painful visit to the dentist that they realize how they’ve been neglecting something so crucial. It is even more serious when it comes to dogs. Were you looking for the best way to clean dogs teeth naturally?
Well today, I am going to talk about some of the most discussed natural canine teeth cleaning regimes that most of the blogs rave about. Can these natural products replace dental care and is there enough research out there to back these claims?
Continue reading this post to know what I found after doing a bit of research. Dental diseases are one of the most serious health conditions that could plague your beloved dog. Without further due, to let us start discussing the dental disease.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – Dental Disease
Dental disease is progressive and consists of a few different stages.
Gingiva means the gums, and itis means inflammation, so the first stage of periodontal disease is gum inflammation. The gum that surrounds and pockets your dog’s teeth has narrow grooves also know as the sulcus. This is where the plaque develops.
Plaque occurs when inflammation proteins from the saliva and immune cells join forces with bacteria and for a film. Not all bacteria are bad, but some can excrete waste products that could trigger the immune system. These excretions coming from the bacteria damage the gums and cause gum inflammation.
If the gum of your dog’s teeth turn red, then takes this as a sign of gingivitis. Plaque is removed with physical scrubbing, so you could remove it by brushing the teeth. It could come back the next day, which is why daily teeth brushing is so important.
Because of the progressive nature of this disease, things continue to get worse with time. As the inflammation worsens, the tissue of the gums gets damaged. With time, the sulcus ( the grooves of the gum holding the teeth in place) grows deeper and wider, giving the bacteria more room to live in.
When the sulcus becomes big enough, the plaque will migrate from the tooth and into the groove. The bacteria inside the plaque keeps on producing more by-products, triggering more inflammation. This is what drives the progression to the advanced stages of the periodontal disease.
The plaque hardens as it interacts with minerals such as phosphorus and calcium that are in your dog’s food. This turns the plaque to tartar. This worsens the inflammation, and your dog’s gum will become so irritated and red. You might even start to notice your dog’s bad breath.
Tartar is what the doctor scrapes of your dog’s teeth.
When the immune system invades the affected areas, things will get worse. Unfortunately, the chemicals the immune system releases harm the gum as well. This is when the gums begin to bleed, bone loss occurs, and the breath odor will no longer be discreet.
If the periodontal disease is left untreated, the gums will continue receding, and the gums will keep on bleeding. More bone and tooth loss will also occur.
Now that we understand how serious this is, let’s look at the top recommended natural and food based products that are supposed to protect our dogs’ teeth and prevent this disease from occurring.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – Myth-busting …
If the only reason you’re giving your dog dry food is because of its mystical teeth cleaning properties, then it is time to reconsider.
If the kibble was big, and the dog actually chewed it, it might scrape a bit of the plaque on the teeth off. However, it won’t scrape any that is within the gum.
Also, a big emphasis on “chewing” because most dogs don’t chew their kibble; they just swallow it. You could know if your dog chews or swallows their kibble by observing their poop.
Kibble is also rich in carbohydrates, which break down to sugars. If you’re only relying on kibble to take care of your dog’s teeth healthy, then their dental hygiene is going to get even worse. The oral bacteria feasts on sugar, thus increasing plaque and worsening the inflammation.
I am not saying you shouldn’t feed your dog kibble, I am just myth-busting the claims stating that kibble is powerful enough and singlehandedly capable of keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.
So if you were only feeding your dog kibble because of its oral benefits, know that it just another food product with no super benefits. It is actually a bit more harmful than the other foods your dog eats.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – Better alternatives
Alternative number one: Raw meat bones
There is a better, more natural way to grind off the plaque off your dog’s teeth. Raw meat bones, though not perfect, are definitely more effective at plaque removal than kibble.
Raw meat bones have a slightly abrasive texture. This texture aids in removing the plaque via grinding. Cooked bones sometimes splinter. This could harm your dog so stick to raw bones.
These bones (typically from poultry) are generally considered safe for most dogs, there is a small risk that the uncooked meat on the bone might be harboring hazardous bacteria.
Raw dog bones aren’t the perfect solution, but their benefits exceed that of kibble. Be careful when using any natural tooth cleaning foods, and always ask your dog’s veterinarian before making any alternative oral regime changes.
Alternative number two: Apples
Apples will provide your dog with many important vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin C. It also has dental benefits because the apple slice will scrape off some of your dog’s plaque as they chew on them. They will also help with your dog’s bad breath, which occurs once the tartar develops.
Please notice though that you have to remove all of the seeds and the apple’s core before giving it to your precious dog.
Apple seeds have small amounts of cyanide in them. The seeds release their Cyanide when the dog chews on them. Cyanide is very toxic, so don’t forget to remove the seeds from the apple.
Alternative number three: Carrots
Carrots are a healthy snack; they are full of fiber and are rich in vitamins such as vitamin A, Vitamin k, and vitamin B6. Not only are they a nutritious treat, but they also act as a natural dental stick for your dog.
Carrots will help scrape a bit of the plaque on your dog’s teeth, so it is an amazing substitute to kibble.
Alternative number four: Strawberries
Though strawberries don’t have much of an abrasive texture like apples and carrots, their benefits lie more within what’s in them.
Strawberries are rich in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin c, and all of these play important roles in boosting and supporting your dog’s immune system.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – What about coconut oil?
I have spent an entire day researching coconut oil, and after hours and hours of reading research papers and blog posts from some veterinarians, I reached the finish line, a blurred line.
I have previously researched and wrote about the topic a couple of days ago, and my opinion was mostly leaning towards not using coconut oil. You can read more about that in my Can You Brush Dog Teeth with Coconut Oil? blog post.
But the more I read, the more I am conflicted with where I stand. I am just going to share with you some of my scientific findings briefly and will leave a couple of research papers down below if you want to read more about this.
One reason why people are raving about coconut oil is that it is rich in lauric acid, which gives the oil its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. This sounds like a great hypothesis, but the few research papers done on that talk about it as an adjuvant to your dog’s daily dental cleaning routine.
Another reason why people and some veterinarians recommend this ( not all of them agree with using coconut oil instead of toothpaste) is because it improves the dog’s metabolism.
Coconut oil is ninety percent saturated fat, and saturated fat is considered to be a bad fat. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that saturated fats increase the risks of getting heart disease.
However, the counterargument these days affirms that the saturated fats in coconut oil are not like the other saturated fats. These claims are partially true because almost half of the saturated fats come from MCT.
Medium Chaine Triglycerides (MCT) are a type of saturated fat that, unlike most other fats, get absorbed by the body differently. Because of the nature of MCTs, the small molecules make it easier for the body to use it as a source of energy and thus is less likely to be stored.
What the studies show us
There are a couple of small studies that imply the possibility of coconut oil being suitable for those with heart diseases, but the research’s durations are usually less than two months. This means that we have no idea how harmful or beneficial consuming coconut oil on the daily is.
This is the reason why many people like to claim that coconut oil isn’t going to cause heart disease, but there isn’t enough research done to prove this.
However, there are other studies that give opposite results and show that they in fact negatively impact heart disease. This strengthens and in my opinion make the previously published reasrach papers on the bad effects of saturated fat more credible.
Many of the pro coconut oil blog posts for dogs mention that some research proof that is safe for dogs to consume large amounts of it, but no reference is mentioned.
That made me realize how I failed to leave my references in my previous post. I will make sure to include my references in this blog post.
The pro coconut argument also mentioned diarrhea as the only side effect, stating that anything eaten in excess will have side effects, but they left out how this could be a load on the pancreas.
One last thing, all of the researches on coconut oil and plaque were performed on the human body. No research on coconut oil consumption by dogs was done.
Remember that while people can spit the coconut oil after using it, the dogs will only be able to swallow it.
In a nutshell
This is honestly just so confusing! My personal opinion remains to stay away from ambiguous things, especially since the thing you put on your dog’s toothbrush isn’t what removes the plaques, it is the grinding effect.
Sure, coconut oil has antimicrobial anti-fungal effects, so it adds some benefits to the grinding tecnique, but what happens when they consume coconut oil on a daily bases? We still don’t know.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – The Verdict
So far, the best, well prooven way to keep your dog’s teeth clean is using cannine dental toothpaste. This is the best-proven thing to use in your daily tooth brushing regime. Kibble isn’t the solution to dental disease, so consider some of the mentioned alternatives.
Giving your dog carrots and sliced apples is really good for their general health and could help remove a little bit of the plaque on your dog’s teeth.
Brushing your dog’s teeth will only remove plaque. If there is tartar buildup, then schedule a visit to the vet. Yearly dental checkups for your dog are highly recommended.
I am very curious to know your thoughts on this topic. Have you discussed any of the natural remedies for canine dental disease with a veterinarian? What conclusions did you reach from doing extensive research? Also, tell me in the comments down below about your daily oral hygiene regime for your dog.
Best way to clean dogs teeth – References
Publishing, H. (2019). Coconut oil: heart-healthy or just hype? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/coconut-oil-heart-healthy-or-just-hype [Accessed 30 May 2019].
Hultin, G. (2015). [online] Todaysdietitian.com. Available at: https://www.todaysdietitian.com/pdf/courses/HultinCoconutOil.pdf [Accessed 30 May 2019].
Peedikayil, F., Sreenivasan, P. and Narayanan, A. (2015). Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report. Nigerian Medical Journal, 56(2), p.143.