Do I need to brush my pet's teeth?
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to remove plaque from the surface before it can become hardened into tartar. Plaque is a soft substance that is made up of food particles and bacteria. When the minerals in the saliva bind to the surface of this plaque, it becomes hard. This is called tartar and must be scraped off the surface of the teeth, usually under general anesthesia during a procedure called a dental prophylaxis.
Most pets age 2 and older have some degree of dental disease. Dental disease is progressive and if it is allowed to continue, it becomes irreversible and leads to illness, mouth pain and tooth loss.
Start brushing your pet’s teeth when they are young. Use a gauze pad or small piece of cloth, apply a pea sized amount of pet friendly toothpaste, and rub the surface of the teeth gently. It is best to do this when your pet is calm and relaxed and not when it is play time. Your pet will soon become used to the brushing and you can use a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth as your pet grows. Daily brushing is most effective.
If you are looking for something a bit easier to keep your pet’s teeth clean, consider a dental treat that is endorsed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). There are several brands of treats that have gone through extensive testing to prove their effectiveness. Diamond Pet Foods manufactures one such treat, under the brand name Bright Bites. If you are having a busy day and miss the brushing time, you can use the treats as an alternative. Some people (myself included) choose to use dental treats as the main method for maintaining a healthy mouth with an occasional tooth brushing session thrown in for good measure!
Alcoholic beverages; Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.
Baby food ; Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs.
(Please see onion below.) Can also result in nutritional deficiencies,
if fed in large amounts.
Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources; Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.
Cat food ; Generally too high in protein and fats.
Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeine Contain caffeine,
theobromine, or theophylline,; which can be toxic and
affect the heart and nervous systems.
Citrus oil extracts; Can cause vomiting.
Fat trimmings; Can cause pancreatitis.
Grapes and raisins; Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
There have been no problems associated with grape seed extract.
Hops ; Unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate,
elevated temperature, seizures, and death.
Human vitamin supplements containing iron;
Can damage the lining of the digestive system
and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.
Large amounts of liver; Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.
Macadamia nuts; Contain an unknown toxin, which can
affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle
Milk and other dairy products; Some adult dogs and cats
do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase,
which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea.
Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.
Moldy or spoiled food, garbage; Can contain
multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and
can also affect other organs.
Mushrooms; Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple
systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.
Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder); Contain sulfoxides
and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia.
Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.
Persimmons Seeds; can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
Pits from peaches and plums Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.
Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems;
Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive,
nervous, and urinary systems.
Raw eggs; Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases
the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair
coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.
Raw fish; Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading
to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death.
More common if raw fish is fed regularly.
Salt; If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.
String; Can become trapped in the digestive system;
called a "string foreign body."
Sugary foods; Can lead to obesity, dental problems,
and possibly diabetes.
Table scraps (in large amounts); Table scraps are not
nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet.
Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.
Tabacco can be harmful to your companion
Yeast dough; Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system,
causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.