If you happen to be concerned about your pet's dental and gum health , Dr. Jan Bellows, veterinarian specializing in dental treatment explains on his website that (www.dentalvet.com) some form of periodontal disease do affect over 85% of dogs and cats over the age of four.
The veterinarian adds: "Although it's been a decade of heightened awareness on the importance of dental care by the veterinarians and pets owners, periodontal disease is now the most common infection encountered in veterinary practice."
Dogs and cats puppies begin their life with healthy mouth: gums should be pink, stable and not swollen and should hold the teeth steadly.
Overtime a thin layer of plaque begins to form over the enamel of the teeth.
If nothing is done, the plaque slowly becomes tartar, a hard brown bacterial layer, that not only becomes more difficult to remove but begins to inflame the gums. That is how gingivitis or gum disease occurs both in dogs and cats as well as humans.
Once tartar increases on your animal's teeth his gums will become red, swollen and bleed easily when touched. This condition will progressively worsen and pain will increase. Our pet may drool more than usual, refuse to eat or have difficulty eating, and have a bad breath. These are all signs of tooth decay.
Gingivitis is reversible in early stages before it becomes periodontitis which first causes receding gums ( gums that pull away from the teeth making them look longer) and then tooth loss.
Here a variety of suggestions to prevent gingivitis:
1. Clean the pet's mouth: wet a small cloth with warm water and rub the teeth gently. This will remove daily food debris. If our animal allows us, we can brush his teeth with a toothbrush and a toothpaste for pets.
2. Since pets can't floss, offering them appropriate objects they can chew is always recommended. Special snacks are avaliable on the market for this purpose, but we should avoid artificial bones that are hard to digest and put our pets at risk of choking.
Raw diet followers (BARF) give raw bones of the right size, but they never give cooked bones of any kind as they can break while chewing and produce dangerous splinters. Always supervise your pet when he chews bones or snacks of any kind.
3. Supplements: Dr. Andrew Jones who is a veterinarian and a writer believes that there are supplements that can benefit dogs and cats who are prone to gingivitis (http://www.theallineed.com/home/07033181.htm).
This veterinary suggests adding lactoferrin to food.
Propolis is another recommendation for gingivitis as according to this doctor, propolis acts as an antiseptic and soothes sore gums.
Tamara Jankoski writes in this article "The Remarkable Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract" (The Incredibles Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract) that grapefruit seed extract is the preferred choice among holistic veterinarians as it has been shown to have exceptional borad-spectrum antibacterial properties.
Grapefruit seed extract is a natural concentrate of vitamin A, C, E, minerals, selenium, zinc, antioxidants and bioflavonoids that stimulate the immune system and prevent cellular aging caused by free radicals.
Doctors have found that grapefruit seed extract appears to be effective in various conditions including gingivitis in dogs and cats (http://www.appliedhealth.com/AHS-Journal/Newsletter/The-Remarkable-Benefits- of-Grapefruit-Seed-Extract /).
Grape seed extract, which is also a bioflavonoid, helps heal gingivitis and inflammation of the mouth, strengthens blood vessels and protects them thanks to its antioxidants.
4. If your pet does not like teeth cleaning with a toothbrush or with a cloth, there are natural products that combine the benefits of grapefruit seed extract, and propolis extract in the form of sprays or gels they can be applied on the teeth.
When using a spray, just spray on the animal's teeth twice daily until plaque and tartar are gone and then just spray once a day as maintenance.
In order to totally remove the plaque/ tartar you will need to use a toothbrush to help pull away the plaque after at least two weeks of spray/gel application. Although we are already used to brush our four-legged friend's teeth, this spray or gel makes a big plus to their dental health.
A home plan for dental cleaning should be as simple as possible and if followed consistently should prevent gingivitis to affect our pets.