Dry Dog Food and the Myth of Cleaner Teeth

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Imagine going to your dentist and being told to forget using your toothbrush — because all you really need for good dental health is to simply eat a few crunchy tortilla chips every day.

The Truth About Dry Dog Food and Dental HealthAnd like magic, your teeth will be sparkling clean.

Sound absurd?

Well, that’s what most of us have been told about the nearly magical tooth-cleaning power of dry dog food.

Is this true? Or not?

To answer that question, let’s take a quick look at the facts.

Why Tooth Debris
Is So Difficult to Remove

There are three kinds of dental debris…

  • Food particles
  • Plaque
  • Calculus (tartar)

Food particles are easy to remove. However, plaque and tartar are different.

Plaque is the sticky biofilm that adheres tightly to every tooth surface. It requires physical scrubbing to remove.

And once cleaned away, plaque can quickly return in just 24 hours.

Left along the gumline long enough, plaque slowly turns into a rock-hard, barnacle-like crust referred to as calculus — also know as tartar.

Plaque is what you remove with your toothbrush. Tartar is the hard stuff your dentist scrapes away when you get your teeth cleaned.

Dry Dog Food Could Contribute to Dental Problems

Sure, crunchy kibble can remove some of the plaque near the tops of a dog’s teeth. But it can also be ineffective within the critical zone near the gumline.

And that’s where plaque and tartar cause their most harm — decay (cavities) and gum disease.

Even industry regulators look the other way when products claim to cleanse or whiten teeth. They simply avoid the issue altogether by labeling these marketing claims as “not objectionable”1.

In fact, since most kibbles contain a higher percentage of refined carbohydrates, dry dog foods could ultimately increase plaque and tartar levels — and thus cause more dental problems than they supposedly prevent.

In a nutshell…

Dry dog foods do not necessarily produce healthier teeth and gums

So, when choosing between canned or dry dog food, it’s OK to choose kibble. However, don’t choose it based solely on the assumption it’s better for your dog’s teeth.

A Much Better Way
to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

Although it’s not perfect, there’s a simple and more natural way to improve a dog’s dental health without resorting to less effective kibble.

And that’s using raw meaty bones.

Because of their mildly abrasive texture and their ability to flex around the teeth, raw meaty bones can help remove dental plaque.

These bones (typically from poultry) are generally considered safe and digestible for most dogs.

However, because they can splinter, never use cooked bones of any kind. And for the same reasons, avoid weight bearing leg bones from larger animals.

In addition, although the risk is small, uncooked meat can carry bacteria that can be hazardous to both pets and humans. So, use caution and common sense when handling these natural tooth-cleaning treats.

The Most Reliable Way
to Prevent Dental Disease in Dogs

The only scientifically proven way to decrease plaque and tartar is the same for dogs as it is for humans — daily brushing combined with routine tartar removal by a health professional.

Brushing Dogs TeethOf course, anyone who has tried it already knows: brushing a dog’s teeth can be one of the most challenging tasks of pet ownership you can undertake.

Unfortunately, without daily home care and professional cleanings, canine dental disease could be a real possibility.

So, if you decide to give it a try, use a baby-soft toothbrush. And maybe one of those food-flavored canine toothpastes. You could be adding years of better health to your dog’s life.

Footnotes

  1. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 128
  • disqus user

    Look up Prey model raw. Its based on the current digestive system of the dog (and cat)

  • theBCnut

    It’s not a brand name. It is finding the meat, bones and organs to feed your dog that comes closest to what they would eat in the wild. Google Hare Today and My Pet Carnivore.

  • Trinity02

    Please tell me the brand name of the food. Thank you.

  • disqus_NsXk2VlHov

    My dogs teeth were absolutely covered in hard yellow tartar (very thick-no amount of scraping could remove) and all teeth also had yellow staining. Vets were worried. Switched to a raw diet (prey model) and it literally ALL fell off within 1 month. She is 10 now and has had pearly white teeth for 4 years despite being a small breed with overcrowded teeth. She doesnt have a single yellow tooth now. Goodbye dental surgery! I will never again in my life feed krapple to a dog.

  • Doug

    Science Diet is based in By-products and so will lack the protection of our food safety laws and contain dangerous chemicals. Better to use a brand based in USDA human-grade ingredients such as Breeder’s Choice, Honest Kitchen, Nature’s Variety, Stella & Chewy’s

  • Doug

    Science diet is based in by-products and so will have dangerous chemicals and lack the protection of our food safety laws.

  • Doug

    Canned light food is best because you can give large portions that will make them happy but the calorie intake can be cut in half. You can usually hit their target weight in 30 days then go back to proper portions of much less expensive dry kibble.

  • Doug

    Soft kibble foods, are risky because propylene glycol is what is used and even if they use glycerin, it is a sign of a by-product based food that is regulated by the FDA as Diverted Unfit Food for Animal Use so, like most pet diets, contain dangerous chemicals and are not protected by our food safety law. The best for teeth is a soft kibble and that is the Nature’s Variety Raw kibble. This is a sterile raw frozen food that does not have bacteria and is best for kidney health because the portions are much smaller than canned food. Raw helps support the intestinal fauna that helps clean teeth and provide protection.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi Manny Vazquez, I would definitely feed canned over kibble, canned is more species appropriate. And it shouldn’t be too expensive, since you have a small dog. No matter what food you feed, you need to keep teeth clean, I use beef bones.

  • Manny Vazquez

    what would be the best dog food for my small shizu. I keep her on an all natural diet and I use the simply nourish brand. she doesn’t seem to like the bits though, unless I wet them and make them softer for her. I try to avoid the wet food, but I think her teeth are sensative or she just doesn’t like the bits. her gums aren’t a swollen, her teeth are in good condition and they aren’t dirty. I believe that she just prefers softer pebbles so I was wondering if there are any dog food brands that are natural and maybe the dog food pieces are more soft? or should I just give her wet food.

  • Copper

    Thanks :)

  • Copper

    Thank you so much :)

  • neezerfan

    Are all of your dogs overweight? Then you need to cut back on the amounts you’re feeding them. Feed them each the amount of food recommended for the weight they SHOULD be. IE. if your yorkie/poo is 12 pounds and should be 10, feed her the amount recommended for a 10 lb. dog. I would also choose the option for less active dogs. A special food is not necessary. Your dogs will be healthier and you’ll save money.

  • Thomas

    I feed a male Airedale terrier. Airedales are the largest of the terriers, and he is a larger than average Airedale. He weighs about 85 lbs. and I feed him 1.5 to 2 lbs. per day. I feed him a couple large thighs (or equivalent amount of pork) with some heart and tripe one day and some cheap tuna or sardines the next. If you have a small(er) dog you can scale down from there. Even a very small dog could take on a chicken leg with a little of the other stuff and not be overfed. Any time your dog is very active, more food won’t hurt.

    To start, I would recommend once a day at the same time each day. There is no need to cook anything, especially bones. In fact, dogs can eat meat that has gone bad by human standards. Their digestive system is short, so they expel pathogens quickly that would make us sick. I never feed my dog fruits or vegetables unless they are leftovers, which is exceedingly rare. If the dog has a bit of diarrhea at first, don’t give up. The stool will become firmer and smaller. Sometimes a couple days will go by between poops; the dog is using almost everything it eats. Sometimes the stool will be almost white in color. This is because only unusable bone will be expelled. Regarding bones, chicken and pork are great; they are soft and easily breakable. Avoid beef bones; they’re too hard and break teeth.

    Let me point out the issues of cost. I happen to be fortunate in that I live near a Shop Rite that has a complete butcher shop. Thus, I have access to things like tripe, beef heart, and pig feet. Also, I pay between .79 and $1.49/lb. (around summer holidays) for the chicken and between $1.04 and $1.29/lb. for the pork. Heart is $1.99/lb. and tripe $2.99/lb., but a pound of these should last you a week. Tuna and sardines from a Walmart area about .75 per can. Hopefully, you have access to something similar. So, if you feed your dog inexpensive dry food (Dog Chow), your costs will definitely go up. If you feed your dog higher end dry food (Blue Buffalo), your costs will definitely go down. Finally, make sure you have some sharp knives (especially a boning knife), some freezer space, and a little time to do play some butcher. Hope this helps.

  • Don Dressel

    Does anybody have advice for what is the best dog food for my dogs to lose weight on? We have 2 jack russells and a yorkie-poo and a collie.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    Generally, you start at feeding 2% of your dog’s body weight and adjust according to activity level and age.

    http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/calc

    http://rawfed.com/

    I started my dogs on raw with commercial products like Instinct and Primal frozen patties and raw chicken wings (my dogs are small). I would give them a few bites a day and then increased from there. And then I would give them a raw meaty bone a couple times a week like the wings or chicken thigh/drumstick. Then I started using a recipe book to make complete meals.

  • Copper

    How do you decide the amount of raw food daily compared to the dog’s weight?
    And could you please tell me how to start to feed raw a 2,5 years old dog who’s never eaten raw before?

  • Guest

    How do you decide the amount of raw food daily compared to the dog’s weight?
    And could you please tell me how to start to feed raw a 2,5 years old dog who’s never eaten raw before?

  • Renee

    RMB- raw meaty bones

  • Rabbinator

    Quickly, I’d like to point out that there is not enough grain alcohol in the solution to cause any harm, especially if used as directed.

    Taken from Petzlife website:

    Grain Alcohol Concerns:

    It is second only to water in importance as a solvent in medicine and is used particularly to extract activeconstituents from inert parts of crude drugs. This concentrates the medicinally active compounds and makes the remedy easier to dispense and consume while also improving its absorption. Combined with water to make a hydroalcoholic solvent, it acts as a preservative by preventing hydrolysis and inhibiting fermentation that would occur if water was used alone in addition to its anti-bacterial qualities.

    We asked Dr. Maier if she could make a statement about the safety of our ingredients especially grain alcohol, long term use, and how important Clinical Studies are to her.

    Dr. Maier has been using PetzLife Oral Care for over 5 years in her clinic. “I’m not really one for research data, I depend more on experience. This product has been available for more than long enough to establish an incredible safety record. I have dispensed this product to patients with diabetes, heart disease, cushing’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, etc. I have yet to see a problem in any of my patients that have used any of the Petzlife Products. I have however in the majority of cases seen a remarkable improvement in their dental health.

    Sincerely,
    Dr Susan Maier (19 yrs Holistic Veterinarian)
    Horizon Veterinary Services”

  • Broome

    Yes Kathi we have tried Petzlife because of all the reviews. But if you read the incredients it contains grain alcohol which is no way good for pets, it could kill them. As soon as I read that we have stopped using it altogether.Alcohol is dangerious to animals. Please beware

  • angela flynn

    what kind of science diet food and what is RMB

  • Kathi Crawley

    Has anyone heard of Petzlife (dental spray or gel) – great reviews for removing tartar.

  • Thomas

    I feed my dog nothing but raw meat and bones. He gets chicken thighs (bone in), pork loins or shoulders, beef heart, tripe, sardines, and tuna. Treats are pig feet or pork bones, which provide calcium. Let’s remember that the marrow provides all kinds of healthy stuff, too. It takes some work (about 45 mins) butchering the pork parts, but it supplies a week worth of food and two weeks of treats. My per pound cost is about $1.50. He eats about two pounds per day. So for less than $100/month, he eats a balanced healthy diet. It takes a little more work than kibble, but your dog will appreciate you for it. By the way, his teeth are snowy white.

  • Shawna

    I have four under 10 pounds and had a little 3 pound Chi that passed two years ago. They all have eaten turkey necks but they have to be cut in smaller pieces or the pups overeat. Chicken and duck necks are more appropriate sized for them. But even they need to be portioned if on the larger side.

    When starting a dog not already used to eating them start off with larger ones and take them away after you feel they have had enough. This will prevent them from getting to swallow pieces that are too large for them.. Seven of my current eight toy breed digs do great with bones but the eighth will swallow items that are too large. She’s choked on chicken necks, chewies and even meatballs in the canned Merrick food.

  • PS

    Can these be fed to dogs under 10 lbs?

  • Cyndi

    Great article on cleaning dogs’ teeth. You’ll probably never have to have them cleaned again… It’s all common sense to me! :)

    http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/natural-dental-prevention-common-sense-in-the-mouth/

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  • Pattyvaughn

    As long as you are watching him while he has it, to make sure he doesn’t just try to swallow it whole.

  • Mich

    Hi I have a 3 pound , 9 month old bichon maltese. Is it safe to give him occasional RMB?

  • soles

    try to get away from the dry foods with by products they are really bad Iv done a lot of research when It comes to dog foods you want the first ingredient to say just the meat name ex. Chicken, beef, and so on. He will be a lot healthier with the rmds at night but u should do a little research to see how much

  • soles

    science diet is horrible, if your going to feed dry blue buffalo is a good brand….raw is the way to go (had problems convincing the wife to let me feed him RMB but I think shes coming around)

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  • Pattyvaughn

    LawofRaw is right, but in case you didn’t understand his explanation, I give my dogs chicken necks, turkey necks, beef or pork ribs, chicken backbones and wings, etc. It’s smaller bones with meat on them. Bones that are small enough that the dog can consume them entirely. Pulling the meat off the bones and then crunching them up is the best teethbrushing a dog can get, not to mention all the other health benefits.

  • LawofRaw

    RMB is an acronym for “Raw meaty bones”. Raw meaty bones besides being a major partial source of providing your dog with the prey model diet, providing it with it essential amino acids, fat, calcium, phosphorous and other trace minerals, the natural way as nature intended, it also naturally cleans your dog’s set of carnivorous choppers by way of the dog ripping, tearing, gnawing, and crushing RMB’s using all its teeth to do so.

    Read the following page of the following website for some profound enlightening information. rawfed dot com / myths / kibble. Also read the rest of the myth pages.

    For a great 3 page raw feeding diet guide and examples of raw meaty bones, check out Dr. Tom Lonsdale’s briefly summarised such guide at rawmeatybones dot com / diet / exp-diet-guide dot pdf

  • Toby S Knight-Meigs

    Pattyvaughn: I’m not familiar with RMB’s, what is that an abbreviation for?

  • InkedMarie

    That’s awesome!

  • Pattyvaughn

    We just had Angel in Friday and our vet is always astounded at her teeth. Our vet used to own her and she had to clean her teeth yearly, but she hasn’t had them done since we got her almost 7 years ago. She was on Science Diet before we got her, I really like the difference with RMBs.

  • InkedMarie

    This time last year, my Boone’s teeth were iffy for needing a dental. He is horrible for teeth brushing so we don’t bother very often. We started feeding ground & pre made raw and give them bones to chew on. This Tuesday he went for his yearly and his teeth are better!

  • Pattyvaughn

    My JRT has stank breath too, but I’ve noticed it is much better when she has had her raw meaty bones. She also thinks that any attempts to brush her teeth must be twarted.

  • ralphmclovin

    wow i just looked them up and itsa toothbrush/dental care company, for people, that has a pet division.

    They have all kinds of pet dental products!
    Hmm, never really gave it too much thought before….

    http://www.benedent.com/index.html

  • ralphmclovin

    Wow lotsa great opinions on this subject.
    My dogs have never let me brush their teeth, so i use bones and bully sticks and such to help clean their teeth.

    Anyways, with all the talk about “ancestral diet” and such, i dont remember seeing a dentist in the smithsonian or at any zoo in the wolf exhibit….

    Recently i came across a product called “Plaque-Off” which is a liquid that you pour in their water.

    Ill say this stuff works as advertised.
    The dogs teeth are always bright white now, and that stuff even destroyed the bad breath(my JRTs mouth has always smelled like something crawled in their and died).

    I only got two bottles just to try it, and its been a awesome and yuckmouth/stankbreath-free month, but ran out 3 days ago and the breath is back, so Im going to get several bottles this weekend.
    It takes about a week or so before you notice its working, so dont give up, but just know that it stops working the minute you stop using it.

    So just some food for thought for those of us that dont have the option of brushing our dogs teeth, this stuff and some good chews/bones will work wonders.

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  • Pattyvaughn

    I don’t know how it compares now to when it first came out years ago. I used it for a while on one of my dogs, but quit when I realized it wasn’t doing her any good at all after about 3 months. She chewed a little but obviously not enough.

  • aimee

    Hi Amanda,

    Really there is no substitute for brushing. Chewing materials can result in cleaner crowns but clean crowns don’t always equate with a good oral health.

  • aimee

    Hi jellycat,

    Here a video demonstrating the difference in how the kibble crumbles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0KBol084qw

    The food did pass the VOHC protocols demonstrating effectiveness. It is an adjunct, brushing is best. I brush my guys with a crest spin brush. What do you use for your dogs?

  • aimee

    Hi Kate,This video explains it and has pics.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f2K29aaItY

    I also used to think that there was no benefit to kibble but I’ve been rethinking that ….”These results indicate that feeding a dry food diet has
    a positive influence on oral health, decreasing the
    occurrence of mandibular lymphadenopathy, dental deposits, and
    periodontal
    disease in cats and dogs.”

    http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/7/2021S.long

    I can’t say I agree with the perio statement as most perio isn’t seen and these were visual exams.

  • aimee

    Mine tend not to chew kibble either when I feed in a bowl.. it is grab and gobble. When fed as a “treat” though Brooke chews each piece on average 9 times and Jack 13 ! Really Jack! 13 chomps for 1 kibble LOL

    The kibbles are quite large to encourage chewing.

  • JellyCat

    Sinking in in kibble is a joke! This kibble doesn’t even work for cats or ferrets. Besides it crumbles just like any kibble. Even if tooth sunk in a kibble it doesn’t remove plaque from gum line where it’s really important.

  • Kate

    What’s special about this kibble though? Their website only describes it as “unique”. Seems like a marketing scam since most seem to agree now that kibble does nothing to promote dental health.

  • Pattyvaughn

    That’s what I get for not double checking something I read. Thanks for the correction. Though I don’t think that method of plaque removal would work on any of my dogs, since not one of them actually chews kibble.

  • aimee

    Iams uses SHP in their diets. T/D’s mechanism of action is for the tooth to sink into the kibble and thus mechanically remove the plaque from the tooth.

  • Pattyvaughn

    The chemical in T/D that works on tartar SHP is not healthy. Companies that use this stuff in things that our dogs eat should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no shame.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    If you’re feeding a raw diet you shouldn’t feed only RMB’s, this would be deficient in many nutrients. Dogs eating a homemade raw diet need a combination of RMBs, muscle meat, organ meat and, ideally, they should also get omega fatty acids, whole food supplements, fruits & vegetables, dairy, nuts & seeds, etc. If you’re not balancing your raw diet and feeding just RMB’s, be sure that the RMB’s account for no more than 20% of your dog’s total food intake. It would be fine to feed RMB’s as a few meals a week as long as the dog is getting a balanced commercial food as the base of his diet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajtrites Amanda Trites

    Do you suggest feeding only RMBs? I fed my dog (Lab/Border Collie) RMBs and other natural dog food recipes when I first got him as a puppy and his teeth were a lot better. In the past two years, his teeth have had a lot of tartar on them when he goes in for his yearly. I’ve been feeding him dry food because it’s a lot easier. The vet suggested that I try the Hill’s t/d this pas month, but I really hate the smell of it and corn and chicken-by-product are two of the first ingredients! Yuck! Would it still be okay to let my Dad feed him dry dog food in the mornings and then me feed him RMBs at night?

  • Pattyvaughn

    It sounds like you are doing everything to promote good dental health. I used to give my dogs Greenies too, until I found out some of the ingredients are not so great and for some dogs downright unhealthy. Try cutting them out and see if you don’t get the same great results.

  • aslat

    I give smoked raw bones (human-grade – same butcher I use) about once or twice a week as a treat, plus i brush 3x a week with a finger brush and he gets Greenies (or similar) once a day. We also use healthy mouth natural water additive (no harsh chemicals) and all of that has worked really well. our previous dog had terrible dental disease issues and getting a cleaning at the vet is hard on your dog (put under anesthesia for the procedure) and costly, so we are more careful with our new dog! we did feed our old dog Hill’s t/d for awhile to help with the teeth issue, but as someone else mentioned, i didn’t like it as a quality food, so we tried other methods instead.

  • ValerieNoyes

    Thanks Patty and HDM. I’ll see about trying something large like a turkey neck. He has has large dried trachea and did fine with those. Also large marrow bones that obviously can’t be consumed. I know my other two will be fine but I couldn’t give to them and not the big guy.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Yes, there are some who just can’t be trusted with an RMB, but it is very rare. Like HDM said give him something that is just too big to swallow whole. I’ve heard of someone who was about to give up on RMBs because he had a determined gulper. Someone suggested firmly attaching vise grips. It worked, and after a while he was able to quit using the vise grips.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Have you ever tried giving him a RMB? My dogs are all gulpers when it comes to regular food but chew their RMBs. Give him something large enough that he has to chew it – a chicken leg quarter, pork neck, turkey neck, etc. I don’t trust my large dogs with smaller RMBs such as chicken wings or necks. Just give it to him and what he does. Some hold the bone at first, but I don’t feel that does any good – obviously a dog can’t gulp if you’re holding the bone. Also, don’t freak if he swallows some pieces – it’s normal, a dog isn’t going to chew everything up into a mush like a person would. It’s fine if they get to the end of a turkey neck or something when there’s just a little left and swallow it, it’ll digest.

  • ValerieNoyes

    Patty, I’ve got a 100lb Lab/Rott cross who is a “gulper”. I’d love to give him and the others RMBs but I’m scared to death he’ll instantly swallow it whole and choke. Any advise? Are there some dogs that just shouldn’t be trusted with such things? I’d never forgive myself if something happened to him. Thanks for any input from all.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    My pugs can easily consume chicken parts, turkey necks, wings and backs, pork ribs, lamb ribs and whole sardines. For teeth cleaning I like beef ribs and marrow bones and roasted trachea. They haven’t had bully sticks in quite some time. I would like to try kneecaps next but I’m pretty stocked up right now.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Yes, hold the RMB the first time you give him one, to make sure he knows he has to gnaw it instead of swallow it whole. Stay away from weight bearing bones of larger animals as they can fracture teeth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/franrose.timgraham Fran Tim Graham

    I have an 8 year pug. Would it be ok to give him the raw meaty bones?

  • Eggnoodle

    Just reading a few older comments I notice that people are concerned about feeding bones to their dogs re hygiene. Dogs have incredibly stronger stomach acid than us and can cope with goes that have become maggot ridden. I just pour boiling water over the bone, throw it in to the garden and let the dog have it again. In the wild much of their food would be off/ maggot ridden. I also used to give FROZEN cooked sausages to my dog, as a treat, when she was a puppy. They kept her occupied for ages. She still rushes to the freezer, 3 years on, whenever she hears the door.

  • Eggnoodle

    Many years ago (probably 2 or 3 years after complete dry dog food had become popular) I had a similar discussion with my vet. He maintained that the dry food became a thin paste, after the dog had chewed it up and mixed it with saliva, which then coated the teeth. 
    I have never had a dental problem with my dogs and have never fed complete dry food until now. I have 2 dogs, one young TT and an old lurcher which I recently inherited. She has been fed on complete dry food and I have continued this. Her teeth are not good. She won’t chew bones. I know her old groomer used to scrape her teeth every 8-12 weeks, which I am sure has not done her teeth any good either. Imagine a non stick pan being scraped with the wrong scourer – it would leave microscopic score marks all over the surface. These marks then fill with the food being cooked (or eaten, in the case of the dog). When you wash the pan next it needs to be scoured again to get rid of all the food trapped in the score marks – the same with the dogs teeth. My dogs have always had a variety of different textured toys. My younger dog (3) has beautiful teeth, has been fed canned food or raw food, a little biscuit, large bones and plenty of toys. She enjoys chewing hard plastic (eg her old puppy feed bowl), rope toys, tug of war with an old sock and chewing bones that are months old. She is convinced that one day the’ll reach that last bit of marrow. 

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  • Pattyvaughn

    No, just make sure it’s fresh human grade and give it to your dog somewhere where it won’t matter that raw meat touches or that is easily cleaned afterward.

  • minglers

    I love my dog…Paris,and I want
     to try the bones ,but should I remove the meat ?
    Paris’ mom

  • http://twitter.com/DawgBlogger jana rade

    Great article, and I agree. Now, there are some kibbles that are specifically designed for this, such as the Hill’s t/d; which actually did work for our late rescue. His teeth looked horrible and it cleaned them right up. So while that is great, I think as a food the t/d is horrible.

    Chewing on meaty bones certainly helps, I’ve seen some of the dogs who are fed raw. One thing I noticed (and you mentioned that it is not a perfect method) is that some teeth end up perfectly clean and some don’t, depending on how the dog prefers to chew.

    Teeth brushing, together with meaty bones seems to work the best. Now, we brush Jasmine’s teeth twice a day. Her last dental cleaning was two years ago and her teeth are still “holding”.

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  • Christie

    Barbara,
    Could you explain what being “more diligent” means for the dogs prone to tartar- when their dental care is a raw diet? Does that mean increasing bones? Could you share what sort of raw diet you use? I have a dog prone to tartar despite regular brushing, and many enzymatic “dental” chews, and am now looking to go to raw. I think it makes sense, as the plaque and tartar itself is produced due to nutritional imbalances. Thanks.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    The pumpkin dog treats are real simple and easy to make and only 3 ingredients (unless you sprinkle in some cinnamon).  I used brown rice cereal when I made them.  They come out semi-soft.

    http://www.all-natural-dog-treat.com/dogtreatrecipe.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595635289 Monica Young Martin

    My dog gets one treat in the morning and one at night.  They are soft to chew and are small.  She has a very sensitive stomach and can’t have most of the dogfood/treats out there.  So, she’s pretty healthy and happy with the lamb and rice food and treats we give her.  You can spoil your dog by not giving so many fatty things to eat and they will be perfectly content.  

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  • Bellaamena

    Certain breeds, especially smaller toy dogs are just prone to dental issues.  I own an Italian Greyhound and the breed is notorious for dental problems. I have to be vigilant about regular brushing and periodic vet cleanings. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/haughpaw Barbara Haugh

    Ive been in dogs for 30 years and I have NEVER taken a dog to the vet for a dental and teeth are white and clean. Kibble like any carb food sticks to the teeth and creates tarter. Same is true for humans. Ive taken dogs from the shelter with teeth plagued with tarter, breath that could raise the dead and put them on raw. Within about 6 months, their teeth are clean (or much cleaner) and white. Oh I dont brush their teeth either. I will say that I do think good teeth is genetic as I have had dogs who just dont get tarter. Others had to be more diligent with their teeth to keep the nasties off.
    Dont forget that treats with alot of sugar dont help keep teeth clean. My dogs get few treats other than to kennel up when I leave. If I want to offer a snack, its human and healthy.

  • http://www.pinecreekdental.com/colorado-springs-dental-care/ Dental care colorado spring

    That makes perfect sense. I’m afraid I always thought I was helping my dog maintain great teeth by giving him those treats. Now I know better.

  • Doggonefedup

    I found that if I put beef and/or pork rib bones in a crockpot with water and 10% pineapple juice that after 8 hrs even I can bite into them without splintering the bone. I make these from time to time for my GSD dogs.  They enjoy them and it cleans their teeth at the same time. I save the both to moisten their dry foods.

  • dentists bloomington il

    Just like humans, dogs need to brush their teeth everyday. Aside from that, they need to eat the proper food that would prevent cavities and gum diseases.

  • http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/dry-dog-food-cleaner-teeth/ alexa joens

    very informative.

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  • http://twitter.com/esam7921 bobc15

    I think greenes really helo

  • Silveraceblue

    Your a moron. Dog food just crumbles as your dog chews it. It does nothing to help get under the gumline which is why it does nothing to help prevent dental disease.

  • Mary Lou

    Thanks, Seals10 ~ we actually stopped them a couple of months ago.  I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden I was worried about him chipping a tooth!  Maybe it was a dream.  His teeth still look pretty good. : )

  • Seals10

    My dog chipped one canine tooth and split and broke off the other. Three years later, the broken tooth had to be removed. So please watch out for marrow bones which at one time I thought also were great too. I had no idea that this would happen.

  • Atiana2006

    try dental chews @ Banfield Pet Hospital. great!!!!

  • Francine

    Can you tell me what your raw carbohydrate-free diet consists.  My Poodle is 2 years and had bleeding gums and alot of tarter :(((

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  • http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ sandy

    Yes, a real raw bone with or without meat on it but pulling the meat off the bone also cleans the teeth.  They do have sprays and toothpastes (Plaque Attack or something like that) and enzymatic chew treats like CET Hextra chews by Virbac, but a natural way to go would be just a bone.  There’s also this from Garden of Life (posted by another poster):
    http://www.gardenoflife.com/ProductsforLife/EXTRAORDINARYBEAUTY/BetterBreathforPets/tabid/1891/Default.aspx

    My dogs get raw chicken thighs/drumsticks, turkey necks, chicken feet, various rib bones, marrow bones/soup bones, antlers.

  • Jzellers

    I have heard that dogs lack the enzyme amylase in their saliva – amylase breaks down starches. So avoiding starches also helps keep a dog’s teeth clean. After seeing my previous dog suffer through having most of her teeth removed and with many health problems, I have been feeding my three little dogs a raw carbohydrate-free diet for over a year now. They have never been sick–I’ve heard that a healthy dog’s stomach is acidic enough to kill the bacteria that might be found in raw meat. I give them raw chicken bones (which even the 9 pounder can handle). I’ve heard you can give raw pork necks and ribs because they are also soft enough. But harder bones can chip teeth.

  • Sandrade13

    Do you mean that you literally just take a bone from a chicken? Or, is this a certain type of treat? Also, do you recommend a specific toothpaste for dogs?

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  • Nikki

    I will never understand why people always choose foods to compare dog food to that aren’t nearly as hard as the dog food itself. I know that dry dog food does NOT keep teeth as clean as they need to be, but it most certainly helps. You see, because biting into dog food is not the same as biting into a tortilla chip. No, it is more like biting into a peanut, which (if unsalted) people have been using as a good snack that helps with gums and teeth for a long time now.

    So hard foods DO help clean your teeth. That is why the bones work to help clean teeth on your dogs. And (depending on the brand, mind you) dry dog food does too. For example, I have a dog that just eats at a good pace and another that wolfs it down quick. My paced dog’s teeth are much better than the other one’s because he takes the time to chew his food.

    Get the bones if you want, feed them wet or whatever, or brush their teeth. Personally I’m a big fan of doing all three (if they would just hold still and let me scrub!)

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  • TrainerTalk

    @Gordon: “Apparently, dog trainers don’t tell us this and it has something to do with the pup, becoming better adjusted psychologically and become more loyal to its owner if it only spends time with its owner for the first 6 months of its life.”

    This is actually completely oppositional to anything any trainer or behaviorist will ever tell you. If you want a healthy well adjusted and friendly dog the critical socialization period ends around 16 weeks (not saying that it is impossible to socialize an older pup or dog but it is not as easy as it is in this window). Your best bet is to take your young dog out to meet as many different people and vaccinated animals as possible to build his confidence. Your dog will bond to you- you feed them, love them, train them, etc… they will bond regardless of how many other nice people they meet. If you wait till 6 months you risk behavioral problems such as: aggression, fear, anxiety, low confidence, etc… Good luck.

  • Sharon

    Hi Gordon,
    I have been reading about RMB’s and it seems as if chicken bones are the best and most economical … however, I have run across a few “reads” where they have stated frozen neckbones and wings are good treats! Im confused – can bones be frozen when I give it to them. Also, as Im going out tomorrow, would it be better to go to a butcher and ask for RMB’s or could I go to a supermarket and buy a package of wings/legs and give them one a day? Im just concerned that a full chicken leg or wing (from a supermarket) might make them gain weight if Im giving it to them primarily as a snack/dental cleaning tool! Thanks, again, for your help! :)

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Bobby… Since I don’t currently evaluate dog treats, you may wish to use raw meaty bones to help clean your dog’s teeth. There are a number of DFA “regulars” here that use these natural tooth cleaning methods with excellent results.

    I’d suggest reading back through this thread of comments for a very good primer on how you can supply these nutritious treats to your own pet. Hope this helps.

  • Bobby

    What is a good treat for a Dog’s teeth that he’ll like and is good for his teeth?
    The Greenies treats I buy for him give him terrible Diarrhea and the others I’ve tried he won’t eat.
    The Hartz ones I’ve seen have Wheat in them and I’d like to avoid that so…

  • Gordon

    My pleasure, Sharon. Just remember that with the RMB’s, to place them in a freezer and only place what you intend to give your dog(s), in the fridge, to thaw for at least 12 to 16 hours before hand.

  • Sharon

    Thanks Gordon! I appreciate all the information! Im finding this site very helpful! Thanks again!

  • Gordon

    Sharon – Given a dog is healthy with a healthy appetite, there would be no “left overs”, so no concern over normal bacteria is warranted. The best area to feed them raw meaty bones (RMB’s) is outside, preferably on the grass, or a designated mat.

    Butchers, some supermarkets, some pet stores, and some particular farmers are places to get raw meaty bones.

    Ideal RMB’s are chicken frames, chicken wings, chicken necks, lamb briskets (ribs), beef briskets, soup bones, marrow bones, pork bones, lamb shanks, whole rabbit carcasses etc. And all of course raw and NOT COOKED.

    Ideal feeding frequency of RMB’s are a rotation of all the above, once a day.

    Hope this helps.

  • Sharon

    I have two bassett hounds (6 & 7) who just had a dental cleaning that left the poor things bleeding excessively. I never want to expose them to that again so I was happy to see the posts on raw bones. I have never heard of this before, obviously, and have questions about feeding them raw meat. Do I go to a butcher and ask for raw meat bones? Do they typically have a lot of raw meat on them and that, in turn, does not make them sick? After reading a few remarks, would I throw away any leftovers as to not expose my dogs to bacteria? Any help would be much appreciated!!!

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  • Aimee

    Really glad to have found this. My shihtzu just prefers wet food. I’ve tried all the kibbles almost. She’ll eat a couple brands for a week at a time and then starves herself. She likes the Avoderm Chicken and Rice and I’m trying the Natural Balance Bison, Chicken and Lamb. The only thing that turns me off concerning wet food is the smell and the price. I’ve got to figure how much more I would spend on wet, but then if I think about it with all the dry kibble I’ve been through in the past few months I could have fed her for a year on the wet. Oh well. Thanks though for the article as well about wet verses dry. P.S. Gordon, there are two Aimee’s posting…don’t get us mixed up..:)

  • Mary Lou

    Quick comment for Mike P., Shameless, Gordon and others ~ we had a house full of people over today, and someone commented on how white our pup’s teeth are. Haha ~ yea for marrow bones! I was proud! : )

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Aaron… Unfortunately, since I rate only dog food products on this website, I’ve had no experience with canine dental water additives. Wish I could be more help.

  • Aaron

    Mike S or anyone else,

    What has been your experience with dental rinses that you add to the dog’s water? They claim to alter the ph of the saliva to control tartar. I know nothing is better than daily brushing, but does this at least help a little? Or does it do more harm than good?

    Thanks,
    Aaron

  • Gordon

    kathy – Generally there is no problem feeding a healthy dog with a full set of its teeth intact, chicken bones such as wings and necks. Make sure they are raw and not cooked, and supervise your Yorkie when feeding these to it for the first time. E.g. Is it a gulper or will it naturally crunch, chew and eat it? For a Yorkie, such raw chicken bones would be softer and more ideal than lamb chops.

    I hope this helps.

  • kathy

    I have always heard that chicken bones are bad for dogs – will our 5kg, 2yo Yorkie be okay with raw chicken wings or would a lamb chop bone be a better choice. I’m worried about bone splinters.

  • Jonathan

    This guy makes grass-fed beef dog and cat food… http://texasgrassfedbeef.com

  • Gordon

    J.J. – Yeah Acana Grain Free looks like a great formula. Can’t get it down under.

    If you have more puppy questions or any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them here or anywhere. I personally don’t mind answering or conveying my opinions if I am able to, otherwise I wouldn’t be on here in the first place. But like Shameless said, also do other on line searches to find numerous and numerous sources of great information. Unfortunately, “great information” is mixed with a lot of misinformation as well. So keep your wits about you and sift through the trash to get the right answers. Otherwise, the internet is the biggest virtual library on the planet.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    You might find a ranch or farm near you that has grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork. Find your state on this website – http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html
    Most farms and ranches sell bones. Some even grind up their own raw dog food.

  • sandy

    Thanks for the info. Still looking for a butcher shop!

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Hi Sandy –
    LARGE animal weight-bearing bones are gnawed on by dogs. The large bone is rarely completely consumed (sometimes exceptions). The dog will rip and tear the meat off the bone until the bone is clean, then if it’s a marrow bone, the dog will lick all the marrow. Then the dog will gnaw, gnaw, gnaw on the bone.
    SMALL animal bones are generally crushed and chomped until completely consumed. Chicken necks are quickly devoured by most dogs. Chicken wings, backs and thighs would be the next easiest chicken parts for a dog’s typical crushing ability. The chicken legs are more dense (weight-bearing bone), so would take a bit more effort for the dog to crush and eat.
    It’s usually best to start out with smaller bones that will be completely consumed.
    But some people only provide gnawing bones. When first starting out with raw, it would probably work out best if you have leisure time and a confined area – so your dog can enjoy without you worrying about a little mess.
    My dog gets his raw bones outside and he always takes them to a grassy area. When he’s done, he licks the grass clean!

  • J.J.

    Thanks Gordon & Shameless, I just wanted to make sure a raw meaty bone once a day wasn’t too much for a puppy.

    Gordon -
    Of course, they are on high quality grain free. We feed Acana topped with one of the grain free varieties of Wellness Stew or Merrick canned, all of which ate 5 star grain free foods. We’re starting to incorporate raw foods and raw meaty bones. I have never raised a dog from puppyhood before, just adult dogs, which is why I have so many puppy related questions.

  • Mike P

    I give my dog meaty beef leg bones .She can chew for hours on one 6′” bone . Her teeth look amazing .

  • sandy

    I see that chicken necks/wings/backs are given alot through these posts. What about chicken drumsticks or thighs? I wanted to start my pugs on raw bones. Thanks.

  • Mike P

    As I justed started feeding raw meaty bones for the last two weeks , I learned a little something . Gordo is right , you have to adjust the main meals . My Boxer gained 5 lbs before I noticed . I cut her food back and increased her walks a bit and she is getting back to her weight . Now on bone night I feed her less . Crazy how fast a dog can put on and lose pounds so quickly .

  • Gordon

    J.J. – IMO, arising from that dog trainer’s advice to me re this question some time ago, and Dr.s Billinghurst’s and Lonsdale’s opinions, especially pups, should get such raw bones once a day. Too often would be more than once a day. Some people give these every second day, like my own Vet. Keep in mind that raw meaty bones are not served as a full meal, but as a healthy daily snack, providing Nature’s balance of calcium, phosphorous, taurine, glucosamine, and protein, with the added benefit of daily teeth cleaning.

    So one raw chicken wing, or 2 or 3 chicken necks, or a piece of lamb chop or brisket, is great to give a dog including your 15 week old pup of 13.5lbs, on a nightly or daily basis, in addition to (Not in place of) their normal meal of whatever you give, such as kibble (Hopefully good quality grain free one) or quality canned or commerical raw balanced meal serving, etc. Even when your Aussie becomes fully grown at which it would reach around a weight of 22lbs, the above would suffice. When your Aussie reaches adulthood, you will also probably be able to give it a small lamb shank from time to time.

    With my own 2 dogs, who are each around 8.5kgs (18lbs), they get their raw meaty bones around an hour to 2 hours after their main dinner (I slightly adjust their main dinner in decreasing a serve from the brand’s recommended, to compensate for the fact that they’ll be getting a raw meaty bone each, that 1 or 2 hours later).

    Hope this helps.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    J.J. – For all your questions about puppy feeding, probably best to do some internet searches so you can figure out raw food variety for balanced diets, especially for calcium and phosphorus ratios. Raw fed puppies and dogs generally get raw meat and bones every day. Many also get a raw bone to gnaw on every day. Some people regularly alternate raw protein sources, including whole eggs and fish. For puppies, I’d probably not give a bone that was too dense until the teeth and mouth have matured. If I knew better when my dog was a puppy, he would sure get a raw meaty bone every day!
    Like Mike P says, teeth are whiter and cleaner and there is no mouth odor. Breath is fresh!

  • Mike P

    I just picked up 6 meaty raw leg bones 6 inches long from the meat locker . I got 2 a couple of weeks ago and let her go at it 3 times a week . I let her clean the bone then get rid of it . My 70 lb boxer has about 3 sessions with the bone before she cleans it . I can swear her teeth are so much whiter and no mouth odor . I just had to adjust her food intake as she gained a few pounds since I started her on the bones . I can’t wait until friday when she gets her new bone . Very cool to watch …

  • J.J.

    No problem Gordon, no offense taken. Thanks for asking the trainer. We are still working on it. I was able to give her some cooked lamb and some browned nature’s variety raw frozen medallions, which were clearly no longer raw at that point. But the point is to try to get her interested in the taste & texture of real meat, then I can hopefully give it to her more rare each time until we get to raw.

    The puppy on the other hand loves everything raw she’s tried, raw lamb, raw meaty lamb chop bone, nature’s variety raw frozen medallions, she can get enough. I’m hoping her enthusiasm will rub off on the 3.5 year old.

    Gordon & Shameless – How often is too often to give the puppy a raw meaty bone? Or, is there no such thing? I still have some lamb chop bones and also have some chicken wings in the freezer. Is once a day too much for her age or am I just paranoid. Also, how much is a good amount for her? She’s 15 weeks and about 13.5 lbs. So, would 1 chicken wing or one lamb chop bone be enough for her dinner or not enough? I know “it’s not rocket science”, but since I’m new to this I’m pretty clueless on the raw meaty bone feeding amounts. But she’s totally into it so, I’d really like to keep her on the right track from the beginning.

  • Gordon

    Oh yeah, my apologies to J.J. as I incorrectly referred to you as a he, and your dog as 4 years old in quoted question to that dog trainer. instead of 3 1/2, because at the time of writing that email to him (yesterday), I’d confused you with someone else in another forum. Too much brain overload and my memory’s starting to play up on me.

  • Gordon

    Just to clarify…re his answering my 2nd question, was in relation to me asking him about another source of mine who told me that dog trainers won’t tell the public that pups should not be exposed to others before the age of 6 months.

    Chris is way more reliable and pretty much has dismissed my misinformation as ridiculous myth. So pups should definitely be socialised as much as possible as soon as they’re weened off their mothers.

  • Gordon

    With regard to my recent questions via email to the dog trainer I often refer to, is as hereunder:-

    My question to him:
    “I wanted to ask, in all your years of dog training experience, have you ever seen an adult dog who had always had processed foods, and at the age of 4, the owner decided to present his dog with a raw meaty bone for the first time ever, but that the dog wasn’t interested? I’ve never seen
    or heard of this before, as most dogs as far as I understand it, will instinctively jump at the chance over a raw meaty bone despite never been given one before. But your day in day out experiences may have revealed such behaviour?”

    Hi answers:-

    Hi Gordon,

    Good to hear from you.

    In response to question one – seen it thousands of times. Commercial food, dopey rearing by breeders, then useless input from vets consigns these dogs to having no teeth and an early grave.

    In regards to the second, I don’t think he was pulling your leg, I think he is genuine in his stupidity!

    Sounds like most of the “dog experts” I’ve run around after cleaning up their mess.

    I think “bad” socialising is bad at any age – sounds like he was either just a wannabe or a in the security dog field.

    Ignore all dog “experts” (except me!).

    Chris

  • Mike P

    Thanks J.J.

  • J.J.

    Nature’s Variety Instinct $3.00 off to try their product, then they will send you future coupons via email if you check the box.

    http://www.naturesvariety.com/tryit

  • Mike P

    J.J. who has the coupon ?? Which company ?

  • J.J.

    Mike P. –
    They have a 5 star canned food. You can choose which product you would like to try and they will send you the coupon for whatever product you’re interested in: kibble, raw frozen, dehydrated, or canned.

  • J.J.

    Aimee –
    Thanks for sharing your training technique for tooth brushing, I really appreciate it.

  • Gordon

    With regard to leads and collars, the 6 month stage and beyond is the safest period of handling pups and dogs on a leashed collar.

    The actual dog trainer I’ve spoken with (The one who’s worked as one for 15 years and 60,000 homes – probably an exaggeration) states that for training and walking purposes, a buckle type collar is what should be used and keep the harness ones for car traveling use only. He never spoke of the choke holder collar types, but my conclusion on these are to never use them unless they are intended for bigger breeds and when being further developed in guard dog training beyond 6 months of age. But a harness type collar/restraint should definitely be used for pups under 6 months of age and for any dog of any age when traveling in a vehicle.

    I use the buckle type collars on my dogs with out a problem, and the harness type when in the car. Although the latter is a problem because they can’t sit still enough for me to put the damn things on when they know they’re going somewhere, lol.

    With what aimee explained about the process in teaching dogs to accept their teeth being brushed, and what was stated is text book stuff, and I totally agree. Text book stuff, as in, when conducting training sessions keep them short and don’t over do it. Take it slow and be patient. The virtue of patience will pay off. In modern dog training techniques, the term “positive reinforcement” is often used to convey exactly that. Unlike the old days where it was incorrectly thought and adapted, that physical punishment went hand in hand with dog training. All this causes is for your dog to become less trusting of you, and more scared.

  • Gordon

    J.J. – Likewise. I mean it is also contrary to everything I’ve read about raising pups and general canine behaviour. When this person (Not a dog trainer himself but has worked with them), said this to me, I replied by asking something along the lines of, “You mean for pups that will be raised then trained as guard dogs?”, and he replied, no. He said this is the case for all pups no matter for what reason.

    I did some hard thinking about this, and analysed it with everything I’ve read and learned and I can possibly see some possible validity behind this theory for pups of the German Shepherd, Rottweiler, or Doberman variety, and similar that would be trained as commercial guard dogs. But I can’t see it having any benefit, psychologically or otherwise for pups who would be just a warm and loving additional member of a family.

    Meagan, if I lead you astray, forgive me, and disregard the nonsense about the ‘wait till 6 months of age to socialise your pup with others’ in my last post under this thread. It wouldn’t apply to your situation despite what the particular source told me. He’s usually reliable but even I have to question that theory. He’s not the dog trainer I’ve spoken to before that knows Dr. Billinghurst. He’s unrelated in anyway and used to work for a mob who specialised in commercial guard dog training.

    However, even if there was some truth to it (I’m skeptical), when a pup reaches 6 months of age, it is still a pup and can still be trained to be well adjusted via socialising.

    I’m also wondering if it is something that particular guard dog training centre experimented with, over the course of their very long history. Who knows?

  • http://brotherscomplete.com Richard Darlington

    Aimee – WOW! Very impressive training technique and I would imagine very successful as well. Well done for figuring that out on your own because I’ve yet to find a trainer who is that knowledgeable about successfully getting a dog to enjoy tooth brushing. Healthy teeth and gums are EXTREMELY important to overall health in my opinion – in dogs and humans…and I speak from painfully acquired experience as usual.

    Mike P – sorry about those Cubs. When I lived in Philadelphia, for 25 years we couldn’t get a winning team to save our lives. Then I moved to Florida and in 2010 they had all 4 teams in the finals together in one year plus the Phillies went on a total hot streak and I missed it all.

  • Mike P

    Thanks J.J. ,I like coupons . I try to get them for canned food . Richard , yes I root for the Cubs But that is very difficult these days . Have you looked at the standings ??

  • aimee

    Richard is on the right track when he said to use beef broth on the brush. I start off many steps removed from actually brushing the dog’s teeth. First I want to condition a positive emotional response to handling the mouth. You know how a dog responds with “yippee!!” when you handle the leash because that predicts a walk? THAT’S the response I’m after.

    The dog dictates the pace of training and is free to leave the training situation at any time. I never use any type of force when training my dogs. I do use high value food rewards when training which means boring dull food in the bowl. The dog decides what a high value treat is, not me. I have used liverwurst, chicken baby food, tiny pieces of hot dog, cooked chicken breast, blue cheese etc. I train when the dog is hungry.
    I start slow… then go slower. I watch the dog to know when to proceed. If I see any avoidance behaviors (turning head away, leaving, closing eyes, tensing face, dropping ears) I know I went too fast. All my dogs I started at the neck, pairing food reward with touch, only moving forward when I was consistently getting a “yippee” response. I gradually move forward to the lips. Laying a strong foundation is critical I can’t emphasize enough, go slow. Only when the dog comes running for lip touches do I lift lip and touch teeth. Lift lip, smear food from finger onto canine tooth, praise and repeat. Over time I work into the back of the mouth. When the dog is ready, I switch to using a gauze square wrapped on my finger and wetting it with water. Using baby food, liverwurst, peanut butter .. what ever the dog likes on the gauze I start rubbing the teeth in a circular pattern and getting the dog accustomed to having the gums touched. Be brief and “reload” the gauze after each touch. From the dogs point of view you are simply smearing yummy food in his mouth. Several short training sessions I found work better than one long one. End the session with the dog wanting more. Once I had a good conditioned response I added the spin brush. At first I got the dog use to the sound by pairing with food, than to the vibration touch starting at the neck and moving forward, and eventually into the mouth. I used the same steps with the brush as I did with my finger. Over time I added more behaviors to the sequence, laying on her side, flipping to the other side and belly up for molars.

    I don’t know of any good web resources for teaching teeth brushing but the principles used are the same for nail trimming so here are a few links for that. http://www.peaceablepaws.com/articles.php?subaction=showfull&id=1282180770&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&type=Pat
    http://www.lincolnlandac.com/site/view/190693_TrainingEverydayBehaviors.pml
    Good Luck

  • http://Brotherscomplete.com Richard Darlington

    Mike P
    Got to agree with you 100% regarding the raw meaty bones being best for the teeth and guns.

    Do you live near Chicago – or do you root for the Cubs from far away?

  • J.J.

    Mike P. –
    I know you like coupons, just thought you might be interested, you can sign up for a $3.00 off coupon to try Nature’s Variety and future promotions by email as well.

  • Mike P

    Had my rescue’s teeth cleaned about 3 months ago by our vet . Prior to the cleaning we brushed her teeth every day and there was a whole lot of improvement . I have to say now with the raw bones , her teeth are so very bright white . I am a huge believer in the real bone thing .

  • http://brotherscomplete.com Richard Darlington

    JJ
    One of the ways I have used successfully is to make a beef broth from a beef bullion cube and keep the broth in the fridge. Keep dipping the toothbrush in the broth as you brush the dogs teeth because the dog will love the taste and be more inclined to let you brush. Be sure to brush the gums just as you do with yourself.

  • J.J.

    Aimee –
    Thanks for the link one of the articles I read in the puppy magazine I referred to was by Dr. Dunbar. I will definitely check out the site. How did you condition your dogs to love “tooth time” I could really use some tips with my 3.5 year old, she hates having her teeth brushed, which is one of the reasons I’m trying to get her to eat raw meaty bones.

    I will check out the harness situation tomorrow based on yours & Gordon’s comments.

  • aimee

    Hi J.J.
    Congrats on your baby. You might like this site http://www.dogstardaily.com. It is run by Dr Ian Dunbar who is known for making lure reward training for puppies mainstream. His motto for puppies is something like 100 people in the first 100 days!
    Top notch trainers, vets, and PhD’s blog there. The site is a wealth of information on raising and training dogs.

    Just to tie into this topic… using the training techniques of desensitization and counterconditioning all of my dogs are trained for teeth care. I use a crest spin brush. The dogs come running to me for “tooth time”. They lay on their sides and allow me full access to their mouth. My Lab will roll onto her back, belly up and mouth open so I can access the molars when I say “molars”

    I agree with Gordon no pulling on necks. My pups were always in harness and trained in harness using techniques as you’ll find on dog star. As adults they have continued in harness. I always keep pressure off of the neck

    Good Luck!

  • J.J.

    Gordon –
    As I believe you already know, we have a 14 week old Aussie, and as may be evidenced by my questions & comments on this site, I’m pretty anal about my dogs’ health and well being. So, when we got the puppy, I did a lot of research on raising a puppy, as I had never done so before. Everything I’ve read has been contrary to what you have heard regarding socializing puppies. My research has indicated that once they are weaned and have bonded with their owners, the more new experiences, people, places, and dogs that you can expose them to, the better. If they are too sheltered when they are young they can develop behavioral problems as a result (ie, fear of humans, fear of other dogs, other places, etc.) which can also lead to fear aggression. I have also read that you should spend as much time with your puppy as possible for the first several weeks to develop the bond, but that should include social and alone time to raise a well rounded dog.

    My research was neither clinical nor scientific, and I in no way claim to be an expert about dogs in any way, just a very caring owner whose tendency to be a perfectionist spills into all areas of her life. My research sources include “What Your Puppy Needs for a Healthy Start” published by Puppies USA & dogchannel.com, “Australian Shepherds” from the editors of Dog Fancy magazine, Australian Shepherd & Miniature Australian Shepherd forums on the internet, and several other similar internet sources. As well as the dog trainer we used for our malamute mix, who unfortunately I cannot refer you to because he died tragically last year of a brain tumor at 37.

    Based on your comments above, I thought you may be interested in another perspective.

  • J.J.

    Gordon & Shameless -
    As always, thanks for the tips. I seared a few chunks of the lamb meat this am to see if I could get the aroma to entice her, she tentatively ate a couple bites, but didn’t seem to love it. I also didn’t feed her dinner, so she would be extra hungry this morning.

    She’s a picky girl so I have had some challenges getting her to eat since we adopted her when she was 10 months old. Sometimes, she voluntarily skips meals on a regular basis. She’s not being over fed, as I am very vigilant about measurements and my dog’s weight/health. She has a deformed shoulder with no cartilage and we need to keep her lean, as extra weight will cause additional problems. So I’m pretty anal about her health and nutrition. Sometimes she just doesn’t eat.

    She’s already getting canned toppers at every meal at about 30-40% of her meals. She loves canned food (I’ve never met a dog who didn’t). So, I’m thinking maybe I should start integrating some cooked meats in the mix to see what she thinks and maybe I can gradually make them rarer and rarer to see if that works. I’ve tried giving her some Nature’s Variety frozen (beef, she’s partial to red meat) and she would only take a couple bites, then spit out the rest. Maybe it’s the texture of raw that she doesn’t like. She loves dehydrated liver training treats, so I’m also thinking about trying Stella & Chewy’s or ZiwiPeak to at least get some more real food in her. She does like raw eggs, so I try to give those to her on a regular basis. I’ll keep trying with the raw meat and bones. Thanks for your continued encouragement and advice.

  • Gordon

    You’re welcome Meagan. I hope you enjoy your 4th July holiday. That’s strange that your 3 month old pup slept through the fireworks. Pups, and small breeds in particular are notoriously startled by cracking sounds like fireworks and thunder.

    I don’t want to throw any spanner in the works figuratively speaking, but I heard, not read, from someone in the know, that pups should not be exposed to strangers until at least the age of 6 months. Apparently, dog trainers don’t tell us this and it has something to do with the pup, becoming better adjusted psychologically and become more loyal to its owner if it only spends time with its owner for the first 6 months of its life. Now I don’t know how much truth there is to that, but if there is, and if experienced dog trainers are keeping this a secret, than I’ll bet it would be because they want less well adjusted dogs around so their services could be employed. Means more money for them. Just a theory.

    Also be aware (apparently a fact), that your 3 month old pup’s neck has obviously not grown to full strength, and therefore when you might have a collared lead attached, to walk it or train to walk it and become used to leads, that you should never pull on your pup’s neck via the lead, to reprimand it, until at least the age of 6 months, when most dogs’ necks have become properly developed to full strength. After that, it is quite safe to pull on their lead.

  • Meagan

    Thanks Gordon! Today will be a great day to get our 3 month old puppy around some different people other than us and our families. She has been around fireworks once already and slept through them. She is so great!