Oral disease is one of the most common canine medical issues. The major culprits are gingivitis or gum inflammation caused by a buildup of dental plaque and tartar, and periodontitis, an inflammation of the deeper structures of the teeth, which can develop as a result of untreated gingivitis.Both conditions are acutely painful for the dog and, if left untreated, result in the release of toxins into the bloodstream that may damage organs or escalate bone loss.
What to know
Everyone agrees that oral disease in dogs should be prevented, but the role diet plays in this is a hotly disputed area. People who feed their dogs a diet consisting primarily of raw meat and bones(see Raw Dog Food 101) report that this type of diet, where dogs gnaw on and grind bones, also keeps their teeth remarkably clean. To be on the safe side, many combine a raw food diet with tooth brushing once or twice a week. Others who oppose a raw diet because of worries about bacteria and intestinal obstruction or perforation instead rely on daily or near-daily tooth brushing and a diet that includes sterilized bones.
No ideal diet
There’s no scientifically proven right or wrong diet for all dogs. You need to determine which diet works for your dog’s health, and for you, given your budget and the time you have available. Whatever you decide, regular oral care, chewies and chew toys, and a healthy diet are all important in keeping your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy.