A common myth we frequently hear is that dry food cleans your pet’s teeth. Unfortunately, this is simply false.
Eating kibble does not keep your pet’s teeth clean, no more than us eating potato chips to keep our teeth clean. Although dry food has numerous nutritional benefits, we discourage you from relying on kibble alone to keep your pet’s teeth clean.
When pets eat food, a soft layer of debris coats their teeth. After 7-10 days that soft material hardens and eventually becomes a calcified food material known as tartar. As this process continues, more layers continue to build up creating a “dirty mouth.” Bacterial waste products in a dirty mouth are continually swallowed and can cause digestive problems. When gums swell and bleed, this creates an open door to the bloodstream, sending swarms of bacteria to the heart, liver, kidneys and other parts of the body. Many serious health problems can start with tartar buildup, which is why prevention is essential.
Q: Why doesn’t kibble clean your pet’s teeth clean?
Dry food has a much higher starch content than other food forms. Since there’s no type of abrasive in kibble such as bones, it gets trapped between teeth and promotes the formation of tartar. Kibble is still a great food form to incorporate into your pet’s diet, but it’s important to include other food forms such as a raw diet. Raw meat contains enzymes that break down food material, as well as bones that act as an effective abrasive to keep tartar off of your pet’s teeth. Aside from a raw diet, chews are an effective way to remove tartar from the teeth.
Here’s a list of some chews recommended by our trusted veterinarian Dr. Cameron
Raw Bones and Chews
Raw bones are very pliable, and teeth penetrate through the bones and scrape the sides of teeth. This includes meaty bones with connective tissue and gristle, such as tendons, ligaments, etc. Please note that cooked bones splinter and can be dangerous, so only raw bones are appropriate. When feeding your dog or cat bones, be sure to observe them and take them away when you aren’t around your pet. Check out our tasty chews here.
Vegetables are also a great way to scrape away food debris. We recommend broccoli and baby carrots.
Dental Sprays and Brushing
Dental sprays can soften tartar, leading to a gradual reduction of buildup in the mouth. Coupled with a raw diet, appropriate chews and regular brushing, these sprays can help minimize tartar build up. Dr. Cameron recommends Leba III Dental Spray and PetzLife Oral Care Spray or gel.
It’s always important to have veterinary checkups to look for dental problems such as gum disease (gingivitis), tartar buildup, tooth problems and bad breath as many of these symptoms can lead to bigger health problems throughout the body. A dental exam can include x-rays, blood work, anesthesia and tooth cleaning. But once the teeth are clean, all of the above techniques can prevent or minimize dental tartar from building up.