Oral care is a key component of your pet’s overall health: A smart regimen can help prevent the development of serious conditions. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean and bacteria-free results in more than just healthy teeth and fresh breath. With a little know-how and effort, you can protect your pet for a lifetime of companionship.
Practice the 3Ds
Tartar and gingivitis are the most common problems seen by veterinarians. The majority of dogs will develop these problems. Unchecked, these can lead to periodontitis and serious health concerns for your pet, up to and including, tooth loss and serious illness. But you can take action to control this and promote good oral health by incorporating the 3Ds: Daily Brushing, Dentistry. and Diet.
Daily brushing of your pet’s teeth will remove plaque and slow the development of tartar. When first beginning to brush, be gradual and make it a pleasant experience. Start by using your finger. Later, introduce a toothbrush. Be sure to praise and reassure your pet while brushing. Also, reward your pet afterward with play or a walk.
Talk with your veterinarian about annual or semiannual teeth cleaning—a dental prophylaxis or prophy for short. Teeth cleaning, performed by your veterinarian, is the only way to remove tartar.
Diet is important to good oral health. The mechanical, brushing action of dry, crunchy kibbles helps remove plaque and works to scrub teeth clean. Some diets also might include ingredients such as hexametaphosphate (HMP) that can help block tartar formation. Diet, daily brushing, and dentistry helps break the plaque-to- tartar cycle and optimize oral health.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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