Have you ever wondered why vets place so much emphasis on clean doggie teeth? Well, the reason is fairly straight forward: Hardened plaque buildup, aka tartar, creates the perfect playground for nasty bacteria.
Sitting right under the gum line, they can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and enter a dog’s bloodstream, which is how they travel to vital organs such as the heart and kidneys where they then wreak havoc and cause major illnesses.
So how do you reduce tartar buildup on your dog’s teeth? I’ve learned to do that by providing my two pups with chews, from their early puppy days until today, 5.5 years later. Chews help scrape plaque off their teeth, keep their jaws exercised, and provide mental exercise.
Puppy Buzz Cleaning His Teeth With A Bully Stick From BestBullySticks.com
Bonus: They keep them busy for a while, which comes in handy when I need to adult…you know, talk to clients, work on my dog walking and pet sitting schedule, clean the house, pay bills…the *fun* stuff.
I found a great article from Dogs Naturally Magazine explaining tartar buildup more in depth: A Natural Approach To Tartar Build Up.
Back In Our Kibble Feeding Days
Back in our kibble feeding days, I combined chews like antlers and bully sticks with brushing the pups’ teeth, on average 3-4 times per week. That combination did the trick for us.
Although most kibble brands claim that eating their food will help keep a dog’s teeth clean, I wasn’t able to observe that in my dogs, or any of my client dogs for that matter.
It might have to do with the fact that most dogs don’t really chew their dry food, but swallow it whole instead. That’s certainly what Missy did – she’s a gulper, always has been. Maybe because she was the runt of her litter of 9, who knows?
Buzz ate at a slower pace than she did, but I still wasn’t able to observe that kibble kept Buzz’s teeth clean, although he didn’t gulp it down like Missy.
I believe that his behavior had to do with his gourmet dog tendencies…he was the reason why I had to keep rotating flavors and kibble brands since the alternative would have been a starving Buzz. He gave me that appalled “Mommy, you really want me to eat this? I don’t think so!” look on a regular basis. He’d step away from his bowl until I’d add some oomph with wet food (sticks to doggie teeth for sure btw!) and veggies/fruit.
Now that both pups are on a raw food diet, Buzz is just as much into his food than Missy. He has never second-guessed my choice of raw food, whether it be pre-made raw or prey model raw, and finished as fast as Missy.
Nowadays: Raw Diet, Raw Meaty Bones, Chews
As mentioned above, both pups have been on a raw food diet for almost 2 years now. It contains natural enzymes that keep a dog’s teeth cleaner than dry food, but there’s still a little buildup when they’re fed only ground raw food.
That’s why I also feed raw meaty bones 3-4 times per week as well as chews such as pig ears, hairy cow ears, and bully sticks several times per month.
I found that this combination – raw food, raw meaty bones, chews – keeps the pups’ teeth clean.
Raw Meaty Bones
Mother Nature made raw meaty bones soft and pliable (unlike cooked bones that splinter), making them a wonderful toothbrush for dogs. Besides that, they contain the perfect ratio of calcium/phosphorus which is needed for a healthy dog skeleton.
That’s why they’re an essential part of the prey model raw food diet (besides muscle meat and organs). I purchase them at our local grocery store, Darwin’s Natural Pet, Raw Paws Pet Food (save 10% with my code K9Savings site wide), and Raw Feeding Miami.
Please feel free to check out the following two blog posts to learn more about raw meaty bones:
Hairy Beef Ears
It took Missy 12.5 minutes to finish her hairy beef ear. Raw Feeding Miami carries the dehydrated beef ears and sells them in sets of two for $5.85.
Bully sticks are nothing other than bull penises, and boy do dogs love chewing on them! They come in different lengths and thicknesses and are therefore a good fit for a variety of dog breeds, from Dachshund to Great Dane. At BestBullySticks (affiliate link), they come in thin, standard, thick, jumbo, and monster.
Did you know that BestBullySticks offers military discounts?
The condition of a dog’s teeth is an important indicator of that dog’s overall health, so it’s important to keep them clean. I have found the combination of feeding a raw diet containing natural tooth cleaning enzymes, raw meaty bones and offering chews on a regular basis to be helpful in keeping the pups’ pearlies clean.
How do you keep your dog’s teeth clean? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!