Bleh. I hate brushing my own teeth. Do you really think I'm going to brush my dogs teeth? Rather than tell you you're not doing enough for your dogs oral health if your don't brush them daily. I'm going to talk about how your dogs mouth and saliva work and what you can do to create a healthy mouth without the toothpaste and toothbrush.
If you read last months blog on OptaGest you read that Amalase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates. Your human mouths contain Amalase which breaks down starches; this is one of the markers of an omnivore or an herbivore. Dog mouths lack Amalase in their mouths. They do however, have Amalase later in their digetive tract. It isn't added till the pancreas and small intestine. This may be because Amalase does best in a neutral ph environment. Dog's stomachs are incredibly acidic. Due to this lack of salivary amalase; starch doesn't get broken down or removed. All of this starch is a great meal for bacteria which loves a carb based diet. These bad bacteria can cause potentially serious health issues.
How to get the starch out:
Simple answer: The more meat the better. If you can do a raw diet then more power to you. Kibble by nature is usually at least 20% startch. Many kibbles are over 50%. Raw diets contain 80-95% meat and the remaining percentage is usually made up of veggies and vitamins. Dropping the carbohydrate percentage down from 20% to 2-5% is a huge deal. Will a raw diet eliminate or prevent dental issues forever? No, of course not. It is however, a massive step in the right direction. If raw is not an options move to a kibble that has more meat, less startch, and less sugary starch. For most dogs I like to see at least 60% meat in their kibble if at all possible. Check out future blogs on Nature's Logic, Farmina, and Earthborn Holistic.Your dogs dental health will be just one of the many benefits.
Some of the best tooth cleaners out there are bones. Preferably knuckle types but any bone will scrape and clean teeth. For the small dogs we sell a huge number of roasted kneecaps. This spring we will be getting a new freezer and have enough space to carry frozen bones and necks. These are excellent for teeth any many other aspects of your dogs health. If real bones aren't for you (yet) then don't forget about long duration chew bones like Nylabone or Benebone. As your dog chews the material grows rough on the edge allowing for it to clean along the gum line.
Gel the easy out for toothbrushing:
Finally there are several gels which do not require brushing. You squirt them in the gums along the sides of the mouth. Dogs don't really like it so they work their mouths and spread the gel around for you. We carry Petzlife brand and hear that it does wonders for our clients dogs.
However there are dental issues that need medical attention like tooth decay, abscess and others. Take advantage of Dental Health Month and take your dog in for a oral exam. All dogs are different just like humans. I haven't had a cavity for 18 years. My wife gets at least 1 a year. Your dogs dental needs will be different from others. But all dogs will benefit from meat, bones, and a little gel.
Further reading - Integrative Veterinary Care Journal on enzymes, saliva, and meat.