All posts tagged 'oral health'

Celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month!

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There is a reason why an entire month is dedicated to spreading awareness about the oral hygiene of our dogs and cats: it’s an easily remedied problem with potentially dire consequences. So, every February, we celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month in hopes that we’ll reach pet parents in a way that results in a change. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will need dental care by age three. This is often due to genetics, neglect or poor diet. Sadly, tooth and gum problems in domesticated animals are nothing new. In fact, two Ancient Egyptian fossils of cats showed signs of tooth decay!

Does My Pet Need a Dentist?

According to the American Dental Association, almost 80% of adults brush their teeth daily. And on top of that, it is natural for us to schedule professional cleanings into our annual calendar. Why should the standard be any less for our precious companions?

There are several warning signs of an unhealthy mouth. Some are obvious and others, not so obvious. As a pet parent, it is important to investigate your pet's mouth on a regular basis and check for the following:

  • Breath: When your pup swoops in for a kiss, do you detect a foul odor? Unhealthy-smelling breath is a good indicator of the presence of unfriendly bacteria in your pet's mouth.
  • Teeth: Lift the lip and inspect the teeth. Are they healthy white or are they coated in a brown film? If it's the latter, it means your pet is long overdue for a cleaning.
  • Gums: Color should be medium pink, although some dogs and cats will have black or gray spots on the gums, which is normal for some breeds. If the gums are bright red and angry looking, that could indicate a serious problem.

If you detect any of these warning signs, your companion animal would greatly benefit from a veterinary dental screening. But why wait for warning signs? Why not be more proactive? The combination of routine home checks, regular veterinarian checks and a quality diet could go a long way towards ensuring your pet's lasting dental health.

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Head Shape & Dental Health

Believe it or not, the shape of your pet's head (particularly the size of his or her muzzle) affects tooth alignment. And why is tooth alignment important for dental health? Well, perfectly aligned teeth naturally push food particles away from gums, while poorly aligned teeth can result in plaque buildups, possibly leading to an increased chance of infection.

While poor tooth alignment is typically a genetic issue, a pet's activities can also result in alignment problems. For example, tug-of-war games with towels or ropes played often over the course of years, can move teeth from their normal position. Therefore, you might want to limit such activities.

Try Something New This Month

We're incredibly pleased to announce that starting February 1st, Life’s Abundance will be celebrating National Pet Dental Health Month with exclusive savings on select products.

This is the perfect occasion to try something new and integrate it into your dog’s dental care regimen. Throughout the entire month, Gourmet Dental Treats for Adult Dogs, Buffalo Bully Sticks and Porky Puffs are available at their discounted Autoship prices ... up to 18% savings off retail!

There's never been a better time to provide your dog with yummy, nutritious treats that can actually help to maintain a healthy mouth.

A Probing Look at Probiotics

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After years of hearing about the benefits of probiotics, you probably think you know everything you need to. Chances are they were your friend to help you through the winter ambush of colds. To most minds, there’s probably no mystery left.

Given the nature of the good news plus more good news, you’re either in favor of probiotics or you’re like me, a totally pro-probiotic fanatic.

But regular doses of probiotics? Hmmmm. 

Even in the media, probiotics are discussed generically, rather than mentioning the individual helpful strains of friendly bacteria. Such overgeneralizations leave us unsure if you should be taking them, which ones to take, how often to take them, and (when you just get down to it) what exactly is it that probiotics do?

Well, I’m gonna break it all down for you, demonstrating, once and for always, just how awesome probiotics can be.

First, let’s see what “the authorities” say. Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, and YOU are the host the WHO is referring to in this instance.

But what exactly are probiotics, you ask? Well, stay with me here.

A complex ecosystem of bacteria, known as the “intestinal microbiota,” develops after birth, taking up residence in the intestinal tract. Yep, we have a whole ecosystem of bacteria shacking up in our gut. The intestinal microbiota contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the “bad” starts to outweigh the “good,” which can be due to lack of sleep, excess stress, or a bunch of other causes, it may affect your digestive system and your overall well-being.

To level off any imbalances, taking a probiotic supplement can help this whole gut situation. Maintaining a consistent level of “good” bacteria in your intestinal tract may actually improve how well it functions. Take that, “bad” bacteria!

Having adequate “good” bacteria has been shown to help support a healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system and help maintain oral health.

But all probiotics are NOT created equally. This is where it gets tricky.

There are many strains of cultures that have probiotic potential. But, each strain does different things, and each has its own little suitcase of benefits. We figure all this out in controlled studies, and we also figure out if you need a little bit or loads of a certain strain to reap its benefits.

You may have seen something on a food label (think yogurt or sauerkraut) about live and active cultures. Live cultures are microbes used to ferment foods, but not all live and active cultures are probiotics (meaning they don’t all have studies supporting specific benefits.) The “Live Active Cultures” seal was established by the National Yogurt Association to help consumers distinguish between yogurts that contain a minimum level of live and active cultures versus those that don’t.

So, bottom line, should you take a probiotic supplement?

I recommend that most people include a serving of fermented food each day (for example, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut) and take a premium probiotic supplement as insurance for good gut health and overall wellness. When you do this and your best to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, including managing stress and getting the proper amount of Zzz’s, you may just become a pro-probiotic fanatic, too!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN