I’m willing to bet your clients brush their teeth every day. But what about their dog’s teeth? How often are they brushing them? This is a question you should be asking your clients.
Humans are schooled on the importance of maintaining oral health to avoid tooth decay, gum disease and all sorts of immune responses to dental infections. If our dogs could talk to us, they would have plenty to say. Apart from reminding us of when the food bowl is empty, they would be able to tell us when they had tooth pain. Groomers who identify problems with dogs’ teeth should advise their owners to consider in-home oral care if the condition is not bad enough to warrant a visit to the doggie dentist.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), by the time all dog breeds are three to four years old, 80% may have periodontal disease. A breakdown of healthy gums can allow infection to enter the bloodstream, weakening the immune system. This not only could exacerbate bone loss, but can add to problems that may affect their heart, liver and kidneys.
Groomers can assist with client education and compliance and help eliminate this alarming statistic by mentioning any oral problems to the dog’s owner. If a little tartar is present, you can suggest some in-home care. You should never advise using human toothpaste on a dog as it contains fluoride and detergents that can cause gastric upsets if swallowed. Dental sprays and gels made with natural ingredients specifically for pets are easy to use and can be effective in preventing the escalation of dental disease.
However, it is still important to read the ingredients on the dental product. Even though some may appear on the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list by the FDA, you want to consider alternatives. A few to be warned about include Polysorbate 80 (P80) (emulsifier), Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (anti-calculus) and Sodium hexametaphosphate (anti-staining). These additives could potentially have deleterious effects on dogs such as cancer, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash and mineral deficiency, as discovered through many studies.1 And with some additives, even the FDA warns that excessive consumption should be avoided due to possible side effects.
So, what are the alternatives?
It has been discovered that by using more natural ingredients you can reap similar results without the potential toxicity.
Looking for dental products that contain the following can help keep the visits to the doggie dentist at a minimum, as well support their immune system:
Propolis is a product from bees that has powerful antimicrobial properties that can kill the oral bacteria that causes cavities and reduce plaque.
Cinnamon is useful in combating tooth decay, as it is antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial.
Deer Velvet (harvested humanely from antlers without harming the animal) is rich in nutrients including calcium, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. It is incorporated into dental sprays as an anti-inflammatory and to stimulate the immune system.
Probiotics, specifically the Lactobacillus species, discourages the colonization of harmful bacteria that contributes to dental disease. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association found that probiotics were effective in treating and preventing dental disease.2
Oral health is among one of the most preventable and treatable problems, and getting your clients to take doggie oral healthcare seriously is extremely important. Groomers who discuss the dog’s wellbeing with their clients can advise on the importance of in-home oral care and encourage them to consider alternatives to the more chemically based products to keep their dogs safe. ✂️
- NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Polysorbate 80 (CAS No. 9005-65-6) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Feed Studies). (1992, January). National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12616296/
- D. Grenier PhD et al. Probiotics for Oral Health: Myth or Reality? JCDA. (2009, October). Vol. 75, No. 8.