You’re relaxing on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and your pup runs over to snuggle ya. He leaps up on the couch, plops his fanny right next to yours and lovingly pants with his face two inches from yours. With each puff of the hot, sticky air grazing your face, your nose fills with an ungodly stench that reeks of dirt, beef, and butt. Wherever that dog breath came from, it can absolutely not be tolerated this close to your innocent nose. You love your dog so much, but you’re definitely not fond of the fog of stank that haunts you whenever he opens his mouth.
Where does the stank come from!?
Offensive dog breath is often due to tartar build-up and bacteria on the surface of the teeth. Tartar (the accumulation of minerals, food particles and bacteria) typically accumulates at the gingival surface where the tooth and gum meet. When not routinely addressed, the gum line can become irritated and inflamed, resulting in gingivitis.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue with accompanying redness, swelling, sensitivity, and bleeding.
Unfortunately, neglect of good dental hygiene puts our animals at risk for poor dental health and, as a result, poor overall health. The bacteria that contribute to tartar can enter the blood stream through the red, swollen, and bleeding tissue. Once bacteria have invaded the body, they float around, waiting to be either eliminated by the liver or lodged somewhere in the body.
As an added pitfall, the bacteria introduced to the body through the inflamed gingiva is taxing on the immune system. The immune system plays a large role in ridding the body of bacteria, and the more taxed it becomes, the more easily a virus or chunk of mutated cells can get through. The result of a compromised immune system can be all kinds of bodily issues that contribute to poor overall health.
The animal dental treat industry is a massive industry with an unimaginable amount of products to combat poor dental health, yet nasty teeth persist. This is because dogs are scavenger carnivores and have physiologic properties that are geared toward a carnivorous diet, including:
- tightly-interdigitated teeth for ripping and tearing food
- a shortened gastrointestinal tract, and
- little to no salivary amylase.
Salivary amylase is the enzyme in saliva that breaks down ingested sugars or carbohydrates.
Since dogs are scavenger carnivores, they’re wired to consume only small amounts of carbohydrates. But the issue is that most kibble-based diets have more carbohydrates or sugars than the small amount the salivary amylase can break down effectively. This causes higher amounts of tartar development for carnivores with high dietary carbohydrate intake.
More carbs & sugars = more dental tartar = stinky breath & accumulating bacteria
What are some good dental hygiene practices?
Well for starters, diet can make a huge difference! Avoiding high amounts of carbs & sugars in your pup’s regular diet can help ease the salivary amylase’s workload. And if you can introduce a raw meat diet, it can further encourage the proper breakdown of foods. Raw meat diets are much closer to what scavenger carnivores would eat naturally, and are much easier for enzymes to break down and digest.
It’s also a good idea to keep a regular brushing schedule, too. Dogs don’t need to brush as often as humans do, but cleaning their teeth a couple times a month may work wonders for their overall dental health. Doggy dental chews are also a quick and easy way to support good dental hygiene routines.
What makes for a good doggy dental chew?
A good way to go is defense by sea plant. Sea plants accumulate a slimy biofilm on their surface, and scientists have found that these plants have a natural, protective mechanism to break down this biofilm. Because tartar is essentially layers and layers of biofilm, some dental products on the market have employed this mechanism to combat the buildup of tartar. The benefit of using sea algae to break down biofilm is that it’s completely natural. With its osmotic effect, sea algae can soften the mineral-based tartar accumulations. And when used in conjunction with a hard bone or other mechanical dental chew (ie – one that takes a while for the dog to get through), the sea algae can help break away thick, caked-on tartar even faster.
While traditional dental chews are great for lifting tartar from the lower parts of teeth, dental products that incorporate sea algae put active, tartar-fighting agents right at the gum line (the area that most dental issues develop). Just a few chomps on a sea plant-based dental treat can arm teeth and gums with the tools to effectively break down biofilm.
And all this will get rid of the stink?
That’s definitely one of the goals! Remember that good dental health is more important than just getting rid of the smell, though. Because poor dental health can produce consequences on the pet’s body internally and externally, putting good dental routines into practice can help tackle issues head on & prevent further health problems.