Cavities in Dogs: How Shifting to a Natural Diet Can Make a Difference

Cavities in Dogs: How Shifting to a Natural Diet Can Make a Difference

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on May 24th 2024

We're no strangers to the lengths we go to ensure our furry friends are happy and healthy. Yet, amidst all the cuddles and playtime, one crucial aspect of their well-being often slips under the radar: dental health.

Just like us, our canine companions can suffer from dreaded tooth decay, too. But fear not! There's a simple yet often overlooked solution to canine dental health: shifting to a natural diet!

Dog healthy teeth

How Do Dogs Develop Cavities?

Cavities occur when certain sections of a dog's tooth enamel become damaged due to prolonged exposure to bacteria found in food.

Numerous commercial kibble diets contain high levels of carbohydrates, which break down into sugars in the mouth. Dogs lack salivary amylase to break down these carbs effectively, thus leaving excess sugars in the mouth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars, producing acids that erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities.

Some commercial kibble diets may contain artificial additives, flavors, and preservatives that promote bacterial growth and contribute to dental decay.

Over time, the enamel on your dog's tooth is destroyed, exposing the root. In severe cases, this can result in the tooth falling out or requiring extraction.

What Are the Benefits of a Natural Diet for a Dog’s Dental Health?

A natural diet, rich in whole foods and free from artificial additives, provides several benefits to your dog's dental health.

Cavities in dogs are relatively rare, primarily due to the minimal amounts of sugars and acids in natural diets.

Essential vitamins and minerals in natural foods can help strengthen teeth and gums, making them less susceptible to decay and damage.

Chewing on natural foods can help remove plaque and tartar buildup from your dog's teeth, further supporting their oral hygiene.

3 Natural Foods That Help Strengthen Dog Teeth

Natural foods strengthen dog teeth

  1. Raw Bones: Give your dog a bone once or twice a week as a special treat! Raw bones are an excellent natural chew option for dogs, helping to strengthen their teeth and promote healthy gums. Douse the bones with boiling water before feeding them to your dog. Chicken necks and the tips of chicken wings are good options, too.
  2. Carrots: Crunchy and low in calories, carrots are a great natural snack for your dog. They're not only rich in vitamins and minerals but also help clean your dog's teeth as they chew.
  3. Coconut Oil: Adding a small amount of coconut oil to your dog's diet can promote healthy teeth and gums. Its antibacterial properties can help reduce plaque buildup and fight against oral bacteria.

Incorporating these natural foods into your dog's diet improves their dental health and overall well-being.

4 Signs of Dental Health Issues in Dogs

4 signs dental issues dogs

  1. Changes in Eating Habits: Pay attention to any changes in your dog's eating habits, such as reluctance to eat hard food, chewing on one side of the mouth, or dropping food while eating.
  2. Bad Breath (Halitosis): Persistent bad breath in dogs, often described as foul or unusual, can be a sign of dental issues such as cavities, gum disease, or tooth decay. While some dog breath odor is typical, excessively foul breath warrants investigation.
  3. Red or Inflamed Gums: Healthy gums in dogs should appear pink and firm. If you notice redness, swelling, or inflammation of the gums, particularly along the gumline, it may indicate gingivitis.
  4. Visible Tartar Buildup: Inspect your dog's teeth regularly for yellow or brownish tartar buildup along the gumline or on the tooth surface. If untreated, tartar accumulation causes dental issues such as cavities and periodontal disease.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms of dental health issues in your dog, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The 5 Stages of Dental Cavities

  • Stage 1—Only Enamel Affected: At this stage, the cavity only affects the tooth's outer enamel layer.
  • Stage 2—Enamel and Dentine Affected: The cavity has progressed beyond the enamel and reached the dentine layer of the tooth.
  • Stage 3—Enamel, Dentine, and Pulp Chamber Affected: At this stage, the cavity has penetrated the tooth's pulp chamber, where nerves and blood vessels are located.
  • Stage 4—Structural Crown Damage: Significant damage has occurred to the structural integrity of the tooth crown.
  • Stage 5—Majority of Crown Lost, Roots Exposed: This stage indicates severe damage, where most of the crown has been lost, and the roots of the tooth are exposed.

Your veterinarian will use a probe to assess the severity of the cavity, which may require anesthesia for a thorough examination and potential tooth removal. Understanding the stage of the cavity is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment and management plan for your dog's dental health.

When Should You Consult a Vet about Your Dog’s Dental Health?

Look for small, darker holes that may appear on your dog's teeth, indicating potential cavities. These holes may seem small at the surface but can grow larger inside the tooth over time.

If you notice any signs of dental issues, such as tooth discoloration, discomfort while chewing, or changes in your dog's eating habits, you must consult a veterinarian promptly.

Regular dental checkups and professional exams are crucial for maintaining your dog's oral health and detecting any dental problems early on.

4 Dental Care Practices Recommended for Dogs

Dental care practices dogs

Maintaining your dog's dental health is crucial for their overall well-being. Here are some dental care practices recommended for dogs:

  1. Brushing Teeth: Just like humans, dogs benefit from regular tooth brushing. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to gently brush your dog's teeth at least 2-3 times a week. This helps remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup.
  2. Dental Chews and Toys: Provide your dog with dental chews and toys designed to promote chewing and help remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. Look for products approved by veterinary dental associations for optimal effectiveness and safety.
  3. Healthy Diet: Feed your dog a balanced diet consisting of high-quality, nutritious food. Avoid poor-quality dog food with excessive sugars and fillers, as these can contribute to dental issues such as cavities and tooth decay.
  4. Regular Dental Checkups: Schedule regular dental checkups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog's oral health and detect potential dental problems early on. Your vet can also guide you on maintaining your dog's dental hygiene at home, with professional cleanings every 3 to 5 years of a dog’s life.

Are Professional Dental Cleanings Necessary?

Professional dental cleanings are necessary but depend on various factors, including your dog's age, breed, diet, and oral hygiene care.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common health issues in veterinary medicine, affecting 80-90% of dogs over the age of three. This condition is particularly prevalent in smaller breeds and tends to worsen with age, even if your dog's teeth appear clean and white.

Professional dental cleanings performed by a veterinarian involve thorough cleaning of your dog's teeth, including scaling to remove plaque and tartar, polishing to smooth the tooth surfaces, and examination for any signs of dental disease.

Depending on your dog's oral health needs, your veterinarian may recommend annual professional cleanings.

Regular professional dental cleanings, alongside daily home dental care practices, can help ensure your dog maintains optimal dental health and prevent the development of serious dental issues.

Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dental care plan for your dog based on their needs and oral health status.

Dog happy smile

Protect Your Dog's Dental Health—Switch to Volhard Today!

Don't wait until your furry friend's dental issues become painful or severe. Take proactive steps to maintain your dog's dental health by feeding them a natural diet!

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert canine nutrition coaches are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods!

Speaking to a Volhard canine nutrition coach will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

If you want to contact one of our Volhard canine nutrition coaches, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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