Q: I just adopted a seven-year-old Shetland Sheepdog. As his previous owner did not bother to manage his dental health, he has bad breath, horrible plaque and tartar buildup on the surfaces of his teeth. What can I do to improve his condition?

A: As a responsible owner, it’s important to manage the dental health of your pet. It’s a fact that 80 percent of dogs and cats over the age of three have some form of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, these conditions are often under-treated. Some significant longterm health ramifications for having untreated gingivitis and dental diseases include heart problems, renal diseases and significant immune compromise.

Having adopted a Shetland Sheepdog that already has bad teeth, you may need veterinary intervention, such as dental scaling and polishing under a general anaesthetic. This will help remove plaque and tartar from his teeth and improve the health of his gums. Once this procedure has been performed, you can then maintain his teeth by feeding him raw meaty bones at least twice a week or use dental prophylactic chew products, like raw hides or dental chews. Some owners even choose to brush their pets’ teeth, using specialised toothbrushes and flavoured toothpastes.

In my opinion, it is safer to feed your furkid soft raw meaty bones, as opposed to having veterinary dental scaling done annually. Raw bones are certainly Mother Nature’s toothbrushes and do well in keeping your dogs and cats teeth clean. It is important that you choose those that are soft enough for your furkid to chew thoroughly within 10 or 15 minutes. I recommend raw chicken necks and wings for cats and small dogs, whole chicken carcasses for larger canines, and brisket bones or ribs for medium-sized breeds. Use them at least twice a week to maintain clean, healthy and white teeth and fresh breath. As long as the raw bones are soft, there will be no danger of your Sheltie cracking his teeth. There is no doubt that when you watch Fido chewing on a raw bone,you can see just how much he enjoys it.


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