By Robert Mueller
One of the topics we are asked to discuss most often is that of dental health. We field frequent questions from what bones we recommend to how often a pet should go between dental cleanings to ensure healthy teeth for a long and healthy life.
Proper dental care begins at an early age. Pets that are in the infant stage at 2 to 6 weeks of age start their teething issues when the deciduous teeth erupt through the gums, which gives rise to pain and inflammation. It is at this time when the naughty puppy stage begins, and they will chew on whatever they can find to relieve the pain.
Raw Meaty Bones
It is my recommendation that puppies chew on a raw meaty bone instead. This also provides a more effective teething aid. Gnawing on a raw meaty bone requires effort and the neck and jaw muscles strengthen accordingly. This provides a good opportunity to educate the puppy on how to deal with natural food.
More importantly, this process provides vigorous cleaning of the oral cavity. Munching on a natural raw meaty bone will also help to dislodge deciduous teeth and help to heal damaged gums. Using this as a regular routine, the teeth will develop properly and provide better lifelong oral health. Many of our customers remark on the improvement of doggy breath once they have made the change to feeding raw meaty bones. Severe plaque build-up, sore and bleeding gums, and even calculus can easily be removed with a few meals of raw meaty bones.
When a bone is cooked, the structure becomes denatured and brittle. This is what causes bones to splinter, which can lead to serious internal injury. Raw bones do not do this. It is important to never give a dog a cooked bone from the dinner table to chew on. We also do not recommend turkey necks, as they can be a choking hazard. Any other raw bone will work.
Healthy Natural Dental Chews
We also recommend elk antler chews. These contain a large amount of marrow, and are designed to last longer than the typical bone. Most bones will last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of days, depending on the size of the bone and veracity of the animal. Elk antler chews typically last 4-6 weeks, and sometimes longer. For puppies and seniors, it would be a good idea to feed antlers that have already been split in half. Splits are a little softer to chew, so the likelihood of chipping a tooth is reduced.
Pet dentistry has become big business. Vets are recommending teeth cleaning, which requires sedation and costs that are prohibitive. The need for a dental cleaning can almost always be prevented through routine oral care. The majority of pets fed processed kibble diets will eventually need dental treatment. The reality is that the majority of plaque and tartar is caused by the artificial fillers and fat sprays applied to conventional diets to make them palatable. Because raw diets do not contain these ingredients, the amount of food that sticks to teeth is greatly reduced.
When comparing human to pet dentistry, the difference is the time factor. By the time an animal is presented for treatment, the periodontal disease is often advanced and has seriously affected the patient’s general health. Veterinarians have long suspected that, and research supports the fact, that periodontal disease can become systemic and can predispose the animal to problems such as heart failure, liver and kidney failure, and bone marrow depression. As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen creating halitosis, difficulty in eating, hemorrhaging, and oral discomfort. In fact, I find many dog guardians that consider halitosis an acceptable condition with their dog. They think it is just the way their dog’s breath is supposed to be. The bacteria from this reservoir of infection in the mouth readily enter the blood system, and thus get spread to other organs, commonly the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Without good dental hygiene, most pets will exhibit signs of dental problems within the first three years of their life. In my experience working with raw meat diets for 37 years, I can attest to the fact that eating a natural raw meat diet, rather than a heat processed food, will provide the improved oral health needed to suppress the spread of unwanted harmful bacteria to the other organs of the body. It is rare to find a meat fed dog that exhibits the doggie breath of a kibble fed dog. Maintaining proper oral health offers evidence to the claims we make for extended pet longevity.
Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. He and his wife love to travel around the world with their dog, Moxie – a Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese mix. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” monthly e-zine at The Intelligent Pet
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