black and white cat holds toothbrush in paws

Important Information about Pet Dental Health

Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will have some evidence of dental disease by the age of 3? We take care of our teeth, so we should take care of our pet’s teeth as well. Dental health is very important to our pet’s overall health!

We’ll learn about periodontal disease, look at some signs and symptoms of dental problems in your pet, ways to prevent problems in the first place, get a vet’s perspective, and hear about special issues relating to cats.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is the most common dental issue our pets deal with, and it is also preventable. Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection of the gums, causing tooth decay and potential tooth loss. It begins when bacteria start to form plaque, that sticks to the teeth. Natural minerals in the mouth start to harden the plaque, turning it into a cement-like form of tartar, which firmly sticks to the teeth. At this point, periodontal disease can be stopped or slightly reversed, or it can continue to get more serious, like when the plaque and tartar spread under the gum line. The bacteria that are lying under the gum line then start destroying the tissue supporting and surrounding the tooth. These initial changes in the mouth start to change your pet’s immune system. Along with problems in the mouth, other organs in the body are directly at risk. Both the heart and kidneys are at risk for severe problems if a periodontal infection is not treated.

The disease comes in 4 stages:

  • Stage 1: mild build-up of tartar and slightly swollen and reddened gums. No bone loss.
  • Stage 2: build-up of tartar, swollen and reddened gums. X-rays will show 0-25% bone loss.
  • Stage 3: more swelling due to bone loss. Bone loss starts occurring due to plaque under the gum line. Sometimes the affected teeth can be saved, but most will need to be extracted to prevent further damage.
  • Stage 4: This is when symptoms become noticeable and a serious problem is at hand. Bad breath, visible bulge of the crown, tenderness, red gums, and decrease in appetite are all signs of stage 4 periodontal disease. There are pockets in the gums due to substantial bone loss.

Signs Your Dog May Have a Dental Issue

How are we supposed to know if our dog has periodontal disease or some other dental issue? When trying to diagnose a dental issue in our pets, look for these signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Discolored teeth and gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Ulcers/pus on gums or tongue
  • Trouble eating or chewing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Change in behavior, as in acting timid or aggressive

Prevention Is Key

It’s best if we don’t have to treat dental disease, and instead, we can just prevent it, right? Well, here’s how:

  • Brushing-this should be part of your daily/weekly routine, according to vets. This is the best way to prevent build-up on the teeth between professional cleanings. Start by letting your doggy smell the toothbrush and toothpaste, and then gradually work your way up to brushing for 30 seconds on each side of his mouth, at least, every other day.
  • Dental toys and treats like Greenies that gently scrape teeth clean and remove excess calcium in the saliva that can be deposited in teeth are a good way to prevent tartar build-up.
  • **Bones and rawhides are good at scraping teeth clean as well
  • A diet low in sugars and carbohydrates will make a HUGE difference. Make sure you are buying a  good, quality food.
  • Water additives, sprays, and gels that are plaque retardant are available
  • Regular dental check-ups, cleanings and x-rays are important
  • Act quickly if you suspect there is a dental issue, and get your doggy right in to see the vet!

*Human toothpaste should be avoided for pets as they contain harmful chemicals that should not be swallowed.

Dental Checkups

Dr. Barden Greenfield, DVM, specializes in dentistry at Memphis Veterinary Specialists. He was adamant about the importance of regular dental checkups and x-rays, “The best way to prevent dental disease is to have a dental exam during the pet’s annual checkup. Make sure that your veterinarian is looking thoroughly. It is also important that your regular veterinarian knows what to look for during a dental exam.” In some cases, dental x-rays are going to be your number one tool in combating disease. According to Dr. Greenfield, x-rays can detect 40% more issues in cats and 30% more in dogs than an exam without x-rays.

Cat Dental Health

Dental disease is no different in cats than it is in dogs. It may be difficult to get cats to accept an at-home oral health routine, though! There are specific toothbrushes made just for cats, there are finger-brushes, gels, and water additives as we already talked about. Try different pet-toothpaste flavors, or try making your own at home. Also, try brushing your cat’s teeth around people he trusts in a calm environment!

To Summarize

Maintenance and early treatment of a problem will help prevent a big issue with a big vet bill in the future. **Ropes, raw bones, and rawhide chips will entertain your dog, all the while scraping plaque off his teeth. An average Stage 4 dental cleaning with extractions and pain management will cost well over $500. And your pet may need to have this procedure performed multiple times. Untreated dental infections can also lead to infections of major organs, like the heart and kidneys, and this can threaten your pet’s life. As humans, we do all that we can to make sure we take care of our own teeth. We need to do the same with our fur babies!

**Remember, always supervise your pet with any toys or chews**

-Written by Kelsey Miner

vet examines yellow lab's teeth

Dogs, Cats, and Dental Health

Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show evidence of dental disease by age 3? That’s a scary statistic and something about which all pet parents should be worried. As people, we usually brush our teeth twice a day (at least), so what should we be doing to make sure our dogs and cats have healthy teeth and gums for their whole lives?

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Dental health is a very important part of a pet’s overall health. This February is a great time for us to check in on our pet’s teeth and gums, and commit to taking care of them all year long.

Periodontal Disease, Defined

Periodontal disease is the most common dental issue our pets deal with, and it is preventable!

Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection of the gums, which causes tooth decay and potential tooth loss. It begins when bacteria start to form plaque, which sticks to teeth. Then the plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which binds to our pets’ teeth like cement.

This is the point at which something MUST be done to stop or reverse periodontal disease, or else it will spread under the gum line and the bacteria will start to destroy the tissue supporting and surrounding the tooth.

These changes in the mouth also start to change our pets’ immune systems. This puts other organs in the body directly at risk. The heart, as well as our pets’ kidneys, are at risk for severe problems if a periodontal infection is not treated.

What to Watch for in our Pets

As pet parents, our dogs and cats rely on us to make sure they have healthy teeth and gums. A lot of this responsibility comes in the form of prevention of periodontal disease, but what should we be looking for to see if our pet’s teeth and gums have already begun to deteriorate?

Here are the signs for which we should be watching:
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Discolored teeth and gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Ulcers/pus on gums or tongue
  • Trouble eating and chewing or loss of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Tenderness or pain in the mouth
  • Change in behavior, especially around food or at mealtimes

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid all of these issues is to prevent them in the first place. Here are a few ways to make sure our pets’ teeth and gums are healthy for a lifetime:

  • The MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to prevent periodontal disease is to feed our dogs and cats a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates. This will make a HUGE difference. We should all make sure we are buying a good, quality food. Ask your favorite Hollywood Feed associate what they recommend and if your pet’s current food is the right choice.
  • Dental toys and treats like Greenies will gently scrape teeth clean and remove excess calcium in the saliva that can be deposited in teeth. Greenies are a good way to prevent tartar build-up.
  • **Bones, rawhides, and antlers are good at keeping teeth clean as well, as our dogs will chew and scrape their teeth against them. Check out this Butcher’s Block Jum-Bone.
  • Water additives, sprays, and gels that are plaque retardant are another option. Check out this Bluestem Water Additive and Bluestem Oral Spray
  • Brushing should be part of your weekly routine, according to vets. Brushing your dog’s and cat’s teeth can help prevent build-up.
  • Regular dental check-ups with our veterinarians are important as well, especially if you suspect any issues or see any warning signs.
  • Act quickly if you suspect there is a dental issue, and get your pet right in to see the vet!

*Human toothpaste should not be used on pets because they contain harmful chemicals that should not be swallowed.

Final Thoughts

Prevention and early treatment of periodontal disease is ideal. Making sure our pets are eating a low sugar, low carbohydrate food and providing them with a $5 or $10 bone regularly will help prevent a big issue with a big vet bill in the future.

An average Stage 4 dental cleaning with extractions and pain management will cost well over $500. And depending on the severity and ability to provide treatment, our pets may need to have this procedure performed multiple times.

Untreated dental infections can also lead to infections of major organs, which can threaten our pets’ lives. As humans, we do all that we can to make sure we take care of our own teeth. We need to do the same with our fur babies!

**Remember, always supervise your pet with any toys or chews**

woman pets bulldog outdoors

Bad Breath Busters

We all know the smell of puppy breath! It may not be the most pleasant of smells, but there’s also something endearing about a tiny puppy with stinky breath. However, puppies will eventually grow out of their stinky breath. If bad breath does persist into adulthood, it can be hard to find it quite as cute. In fact, we need to do something about it!

Bad breath can be prevented with a little time and energy, but if our adult dogs suddenly develop a terrible case of halitosis, then what should we do? The cause of bad breath could be as simple as a change in food or treats, or there may be reason for concern about a health issue.

Causes of Bad Breath:

 Change in Diet

happy chocolate lab outside with tongue out

 

Take a minute to think. Did your dog’s bad breath begin when you switched to a new food or treat? Have you begun using a fish oil supplement recently? Have you caught Fido eating poop? (My Skeeter has been known to eat poop from time to time, and it is highly disgusting. This is a great reason for us all to keep our yards scooped! Read How Can I Keep My Backyard Clean and Smelling Fresh and 5 Reasons to Scoop Your Dog’s Poop to learn more.)

These are all reasons that our dog’s breath could suddenly start to stink. One step we can each take is to make sure our yard stays poop-free.

If we have recently begun feeding a food high in fish oils, or giving our dog a fish oil supplement, then we should wait a few weeks until our dog’s body becomes used to digesting this new ingredient before we decide to stop using it. After a few weeks, the bad breath will probably go away if fish oil is the culprit.

If waiting it out for 4-6 weeks doesn’t work, then we may want to try changing our dog back to his old diet, or try another new food to see if his breath starts to smell more sweetly again. If our dogs’ breath smells better after switching foods, then we have found the culprit!

 Possible Medical Concern

vet examines yellow lab's teeth

 

Bad breath can also be caused by bacteria building up in our dogs’ mouth or elsewhere in the digestive tract. If our dogs develop bad breath suddenly, this may be a sign of gum disease or some other bacterial or fungal infection in the body.

Bad breath can also be a sign of a larger problem in dogs (and humans). Diseases such as cancer or diabetes may be to blame, or there may be something going wrong with our dogs’ organs.

If we try the simple fixes for bad breath I talk about below and nothing changes with our dogs’ breath, or if there are other symptoms present that lead us to think there may be a bigger issue, then it is probably time to go see our veterinarian to find out if there is a medical cause for the smell.

Bad Breath Fixes:

There are several things we can do at home to try to fix Fido’s bad breath:

1. Dental Care

 

We should focus on regular dental care for our dog. Brushing our dogs’ teeth at home will help to prevent bad breath from starting in the first place, but it can also remove any plaque buildup that has occurred. It can also help to relieve bad breath as well. Our dogs’ gums should not be red or bleeding when we give them a brushing. This is a sign of dental disease and we should take our dog in to see the vet. Read more about good dental care for our pets: Dogs, Cats and Dental Health.

2. Alternatives to Brushing

**Besides brushing with a toothbrush, we can give our pets rawhides, bones, and other chews like Greenies to help with bad breath. These treats are easy to give to our pets! I know my three dogs love to chew a raw bone or Greenie. Besides being easy for us and fun for our dogs, these bones and chews will rub against our dogs’ teeth as they chew them, scraping off plaque very similarly to a toothbrush.

3. Dental Care Products

If we’re looking for a breath spray or water additive to help with bad breath, we carry several options to suit you and your dog best! 

Zymox Breath Freshener will freshen breath by preventing bad bacteria from building up in our dogs’ mouth as well as attacking the plaque which is
already there. Just a spritz in our dog’s mouth is all there is to it!

Zymox Water Additive is a concentrated formula that we add to our dogs’ water bowl when we fill it. It is flavorless, so our dogs won’t even know it’s there. It will help clean teeth and prevent bad plaque build-up without brushing.

Bluestem Water Additive is made with coactiv+ and is scientifically prepared to freshen your pet’s breath while combatting the buildup of plaque and tartar. This simple-to-use formula is easy to administer; simply drop two capfuls into your pet’s water bowl daily for the best results.

Bluestem Oral Spray Vanilla & Mint is an easy-to-use and highly effective method of freshening your pet’s breath and strengthening his or her long-term oral health. This oral spray is a great part of a comprehensive oral health care routine that can decrease the chances of periodontal disease. Use daily for the best results.

4. Clean Bowl = Happy Mouth

We should all make sure that our dogs have clean food and water bowls! Gross things build up on water and food bowls after days and weeks of not being washed. We should aim to wash our pets’ food and water bowls with soap and hot water at least once a week. Stainless steel bowls make this very easy and are my preference.

5. Natural Remedies

**If we’re looking for a natural remedy for bad breath, there are a few things we can try. We can squeeze a little lemon in our pets’ water bowl or sprinkle some parsley over their food at dinner. Also, abrasive fruits and veggies like carrots and apples can help scrape teeth clean similarly to rawhides and Greenies (and my dogs love them).

6. Veterinary Visit

dog gets check-up

Finally, if we have tried everything to remedy our dogs’ bad breath and there is no change, then it is time to schedule a veterinary appointment. Your dog may need a professional dental cleaning or may have a health issue that needs to be diagnosed and fixed.

Remember, puppy breath is cute, but halitosis is not! Try these simple fixes to remedy bad breath, and if all else fails or if other symptoms are present, let’s make a trip to our vet.

Have you found any other bad breath remedies that work well for your dog? Let us know in the comment section below!

**Remember, always supervise your pet with any toys or chews**

woman cuddles senior retriever

Top 10 Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

When you decide to adopt a new dog, it’s very exciting! There are so many fun things you can do with your new dog and they are so very cute at any age. It is easy to imagine all of the adventures you will have with your new companion, and it can be just as easy to forget all of the responsibilities that come along with dog ownership.

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, so make the time to take a look at yourself this month and make sure you are doing the very best for your fur babies!

1. Life-Long Commitment

The first and most important thing you must realize to be a responsible dog owner is that you must commit to loving and caring for your dog for his entire life. It does not matter what health problems may come up, it does not matter what new people may come into your life, and it does not matter if you move out of your house and into an apartment. Dogs are living, breathing, feeling animals who form emotional attachments and can feel depression and abandonment thoroughly. If you cannot handle the cost and care of a dog for his entire life, then do not get a dog. It’s that simple.

2. Good Nutrition

Feeding your dog good food is the most important step to lifelong health and happiness in your dog! Talk to your local Hollywood Feed store associate about which food is right for your dog. They are trained by experts like veterinarians and nutritionists so they can meet your dog’s specific needs.

3. Lots of Water

Hydration is very important! Make sure that your dog always has a clean full bowl of water, whether he is indoors or out. Here are some fun ways to keep your dog hydrated!

4. Identification

Always keep a well-fitting collar with ID tags on your pet at all times and check regularly to make sure the fit of the collar is good, it has not become frayed, and that you can read your phone number on the ID tag. Microchipping is also very important and I highly recommend it. If anything ever happens to separate your dog from you, these are the best ways to ensure a safe return. Check out more information here.

5. Spay and Neuter

The most important thing we can do as pet-parents to help prevent homeless and unwanted animals is to spay and neuter our pets. Please take this important step, which also has added health benefits for our dogs like reducing the risk of uterine infections, certain types of cancer!

6. Exercise and Preventing Obesity

Exercising with your pet is a real bonding experience. Whether you are more relaxed and like to go for walks around the neighborhood together or if you like to camp, hike and be more adventurous with your dog, he will love it and it will help to keep him healthy. Exercise has cardiovascular benefits and will keep your dog’s waistline trim. Obesity causes so many preventable health problems in our pets just like it does in humans. Learn more about combating obesity here.

7. Training

A well-trained dog is a happy dog! Besides knowing what you expect of him and being able to fulfill it, training your dog is also important for safety and mental stimulation. Check out some of our great training blogs here: Surviving K9 Adolescence and 10 Training Secrets Every Pet Parent Should Know.

8. Regular Check-Ups

Your dog should go to his veterinarian at least once a year for a full physical exam. A head-to-tail check-up may find a health concern that you didn’t know about before it starts to cause visible symptoms in your dog. This is especially important the older your dog gets! Making sure your dog’s teeth are in good shape is also very important to his overall health!

9. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Make sure that you have a first aid kit, emergency evacuation or quarantine plans, and know some basic CPR and first aid techniques. We have the blogs to help you with this!

10. Affection

Every dog needs affection and approval from his owner. This is very important! Learn your dog’s love language! Does he like to be petted calmly? Does he like to play fetch with you? Does he love having his back scratched? Does your dog’s ultimate happiness lie in that special canned food for dinner instead of his regular kibble? Reward your dog for good behavior and love your dog every day.

happy shepherd mix with water bowl in background

What are the Benefits of Feeding Raw?

If you are curious about feeding your pet a raw or partially raw diet, then listen up! Primal Pet Foods is one of the amazing brands that Hollywood Feed carries to help meet every pet’s needs. They have frozen raw and freeze dried pet food formulas for both dogs and cats. Primal makes complete diets, formulas for mixing into other foods as a supplement, treats, bones, and fermented goat’s milk!

But, Raw Makes Me Nervous

I hear people say that they don’t believe a raw diet is safe for their pets and may make them sick. This is not true! Dogs and cats eat raw meat in the wild. As they became domesticated by humans, we fed them our raw leftovers until processing began relatively recently in the 1930s with the introduction of canned foods. In the 1950s, kibble became very popular. So, the way we currently feed our pets is pretty new to them and their bodies and it is taking its toll on our pets’ health. Issues like obesity and diabetes did not use to exist for our pets, but with the advent of processed foods in both the human and the pet food sectors, we have all started to see more medical issues arise.

The FDA requires that any foods sold for raw consumption test at 0% for salmonella, e. coli and listeria. Primal adheres to these guidelines and a random sampling of all of their foods, treats, and bones are submitted for 3rd party testing. The food being tested is held at Primal’s facility until the test results come back and only then sent to stores to be sold.

Primal prides itself on the fact that it only sources the healthiest animals with the most humane treatment for all of its products. Salmonella should not be found in healthy pigs, cows, lamb, and other four legged mammals. But healthy fowl all contain naturally occurring levels of salmonella. To kill that salmonella, Primal uses high-pressure processing (HPP). Instead of using heat, HPP uses thousands of pounds of pressure, which when applied to the food will burst single cell organisms like salmonella while leaving multi-cell beneficial organisms intact.

This means that your pet’s raw food is safe and quality checked every time! When handling any raw meat, even raw meat sold for human consumption, please use common sanitation practices including hand washing and washing of any bowls and utensils used.

Stomach Health

If your pet has a sensitive stomach, digestive issues, or regurgitation issues, then it is very likely that switching to a raw diet can help here as well.

Many people see problems when they feed their pets a food that is high starches. Our pets have trouble breaking up starches in the stomach because they are not meant to eat them. Starches actually lower stomach acidity-the acidity is what breaks down food! This is why your dog may vomit his food back up, which increases stomach acidity, and then eat the regurgitated food again with more success due to that increased stomach acidity. This is also why some pets frequently have upset stomachs.

By feeding a raw diet with Primal instead, you naturally have a high stomach acid because there is no starch to decrease it, and the raw meat has active enzymes that further contribute to successful digestion. Plus, it is way tastier than extruded kibble!

Dental Health

The food you feed your pet affects his entire body, from nose to toes, including dental health!

Raw marrow bones are a natural way to keep your dog’s teeth scraped free of tartar. Just think about it: while chewing on the raw bone, your dog scrapes his teeth repeatedly over it, like the friction of a toothbrush. This is how an undomesticated dog or a wolf in the wild keeps his teeth clean.

If we are feeding our pets a food high in starches (which turn into sugar), then it causes a lot more damage to our cats and dog’s teeth, gums and overall dental health because it is a completely different diet than what they would be eating if left to their own devices.

Dogs and cat’s bodies are meant to eat raw meat. Dogs have developed and changed over time to also eat fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet (cats, not so much). If you are feeding your pet a diet high in starch, using raw bones is a great way to help clean your dog’s teeth. This can end up saving you lots of money on dental cleanings at the vet, plus your pet will love you even more for the tasty treat! Learn more about how to safely feed raw bones here.

Better than using raw bones supplementary to clean teeth, switch your pet to a completely raw diet! This will prevent the tartar and plaque build-up from the beginning. Dental health is very important to your pet’s overall health-don’t take it lightly!

Other Benefits

Besides good dental and stomach health, feeding a raw diet will decrease the amount of stool your pet passes because he is actually using everything he eats. High starch diets contain ingredients that your pet simply poops right out without providing him any benefit. This means you are paying for food your pet isn’t using, and you have to scoop large, stinky piles of poop from your yard instead of small, not very stinky ones.

A raw diet can also increase your pet’s energy, reduce shedding, and give him a healthy and shiny coat. If you have a dog whose eyes tear a lot and leave stains, or ears that become infected and stinky-that is the result of toxins leaving the body. A raw diet can eliminate these eye and ear issues.

The Best Ingredients

Primal only uses the very best ingredients in their foods. This includes:

  • Whole Food Sources
  • Organic Fruits and Vegetables
  • Naturally Occurring Vitamins and Minerals (many companies choose to add synthetic vitamins and minerals to meet AAFCO standards)
  • Hormone and Antibiotic-Free Meat
  • Humanely Raised Animals

 

Primal also has sourcing transparency. Just visit their website to learn more.

Hollywood Feed carries only the healthiest pet foods with the best ingredients. They have a great selection of foods that can meet any pet’s health needs and any pet parent’s budget. Visit your local Hollywood Feed to talk with our highly knowledgeable staff about feeding your pet a raw diet today!