But I must add a word of caution... Avoid cooked meat bones. Cooked bones can splinter and inflict serious injury to your pet's trachea and gastrointestinal tract.
If your dog has health issues, be sure to get your holistic vet's "okay" before feeding raw bones. And always supervise your dog when feeding any type of bone.
Know What's Going On Inside...
My third step for keeping your pet's mouth clean is to know what's happening inside...
Ideally, your pet should allow you to open his mouth and look inside.
If your pet isn't used to you touching or peering inside his mouth, start today to acquaint him with this important habit. Take it slowly and praise and reward him for his cooperation.
Once your dog or cat is comfortable with you touching his mouth, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. His teeth should be clean, without brownish stains.
Don't expect to see pearly whites in an adult dog or cat. Yellow staining is normal for pets that are no longer puppies and kittens. Even professional cleaning doesn't remove staining, unless a bleaching agent is applied.
Once you've inspected your pet's mouth a few times, you'll become familiar with his teeth and gums. Be sure to notice the smell of his breath and note any changes.
If you observe any of the following signs, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, preferably one who practices holistic medicine, as soon as possible:
Bad breath (especially if you notice a change)
Unusual lumps on the gums or under the tongue
Loose or bleeding teeth
Enlist the Pros to Help
Step four is a critical one that I don't want you to skip...
Regardless of whether you are cleaning your pet's teeth at home, be sure to schedule regular oral exams with your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet's mouth.
In some cases, a professional cleaning may be necessary. If your vet strongly recommends having it done, and it's safe for your pet, do it.
With a clean mouth - a clean slate, so to speak - you can vow to keep up with cleaning at home moving forward.
Annual dental exams, starting at one year of age for cats and small-breed dogs, and two years of age for large-breed dogs, are recommended for all pets.
What about "anesthesia-free" dental cleanings? I don't recommend them. These "cleanings" carry risks of injury to your pet and can't clean as deeply as traditional vet cleanings.
This new advance in dental care that I'm about to share with you in a couple of minutes, while not a replacement for professional oral exams, can potentially help keep your pet's teeth cleaner between professional cleanings.
Brushing - Still the Gold Standard for Your Pet's Oral Cleanliness
I believe step five is the most important step.... and that's to brush your pet's teeth.
I know I told you earlier that you didn't have to brush for this product to work.
Bear with me... That is still an option if your pet refuses to let you come near him with a toothbrush, or if brushing isn't appropriate for your pet.
And you'll be pleased to know that this new option by itself is nearly as effective as brushing...
However, I'm going to encourage you to give brushing a try, because as you'll soon see, you'll likely experience better and faster results if you add brushing. I know you want your pet to enjoy clean gums and teeth as quickly as possible.
Ideally, you want to brush your pet's teeth every night, or at least several times a week.
The best time to establish a solid brushing routine is when your cat or dog is young, before the age of one. Get your pet comfortable with having their jaw, teeth, and gums touched from their earliest months.
Nearly any dog or cat, at any age, can learn to accept having their teeth brushed. Be sure to ease into it slowly, offer plenty of praise and reassurance, and be generous with healthy treats!
How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth... Even if You've Never Done it Before
Brushing your pet's teeth doesn't need to be an insurmountable task. The key is to break the process down into steps and gradually work up to actual brushing.
Following these simple steps can make brushing easier and less stressful for you both:
Spend at least a week getting your pet "ready" for brushing. Massage his lips with your finger in a circular motion once or twice a day.
For the next week or so, move to his teeth and gums, massaging with your finger in a similar manner. Still no toothpaste or toothbrush yet...
Next, dab a very small amount of pet-formulated toothpaste on his lips. Spend at least a few days getting him accustomed to the taste.
Now introduce a piece of gauze and rub it against the teeth. After your pet accepts that, you can move on to a "finger brush," and finally a special pet toothbrush with soft bristles, but don't rush. Make small, circular motions on his teeth.
Add a small amount of toothpaste to the gauze or brush. Focus on the back teeth and the outsides of your pet's teeth, as that's where they are dirtiest.
Try working on a few teeth at a time. Gently massage your pet's gums with the gauze or brush. And don't forget the praise and rewards...
Congratulations! You've completed all 5 steps to helping your pet have a cleaner mouth.
The Most Challenging to Care For... And with a Greater Need?
Now that we've covered the essentials of good oral care, I realize the last step - brushing - can be the most challenging if you have a cat, a small breed dog, or simply a dog who refuses to let you near his mouth with your fingers, much less a toothbrush.
And ironically, it's often smaller animals with smaller mouths - some of those most challenging subjects - that may need cleaning the most.
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to needing dental cleansing – Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Shelties, Papillons, Pomeranians, and although far from small, Greyhounds.
The felines most prone are purebred Persians, Siamese, Abyssinians, Maine Coons, and Somalis.
And the risk of dirty teeth dramatically increases for older dogs and cats.
The solution I have found can potentially help cats and dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds.
The New Oral Care Products – Are They Safe?
Several new products - and even foods - claim to help clean your pet's teeth. They include specially treated kibble, treats, chews, oral sprays, oral gels, and even water additives.
But before you pick up a bag of one of these "oral care" formulas, here are a few facts you need to know...
To create many of these "dental care" kibble and treats, manufacturers coat the food with a man-made industrial polymer called sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP).
According to its Material Safety Data Sheet, SHMP can be hazardous to humans if swallowed. A study on rats found it negatively affected their kidneys, growth, bones, muscles, liver, and thyroid.
Just because a product may be labeled and advertised as "safe" or "all-natural," always look closely at the ingredients.
It's time to let you in on my secret weapon for fast, safe, and easy dental care results...
Introducing... Healthy Pets Dental Gel with Herbal Extracts
Together with a company in the U.S. that's been manufacturing quality herbal dental products for 10 years, we've created a proprietary formula for Mercola Healthy Pets.
It's far easier and faster to help keep teeth clean in the first place than to clean them once they are dirty.
It's so easy to use. Just squeeze the recommended amount onto your fingertip. For a medium-sized dog, that's only a fourth of a teaspoon. For a cat, just an eighth of a teaspoon.
If your pet will allow you to open his mouth, simply smear the gel over his teeth and gums. If not, place the gel on his lips, paw, or muzzle, and he'll lick it off. The more he licks, the more it will mix with his saliva and coat his teeth and gums.
When smearing the gel on your pet's teeth, focus on the back molars first. Especially with cats, this is where most of the dirt accumulates. Move to the pre-molars, canines, and then the incisors.
Have a question or comment? We would love to hear about it.
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