It might seem counter-intuitive, but raw bones can help clean your dog’s teeth and freshen their breath.
We’re probably all familiar with stinky dog breath, which often leads us to notice that our pups teeth are developing some plaque. We’ve also heard all about how we should brush our dog’s teeth. Training your dog to tolerate and even enjoy getting their teeth cleaned takes a ton of time and dedication that most of us don’t have. Let’s be honest; we’d all rather be out exploring the beauty of Powell River with our pups than brushing their teeth.
Maybe you’ve resorted to those dental chews that temporarily freshen their breath. The problem with dental chews is that most of them are carbohydrate-based, and carbohydrates make more plaque.
The dental health of our pups is something that we may not think about that often, but the American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80% of dogs develop dental issues by the age of 3! Additionally, the risk of periodontal disease increases by 20% for every year of your dog’s life.
So, what’s the alternative? How can we help our dogs maintain healthy teeth without brushing them every day? Raw bones are the easiest answer, with a few important safety guidelines. Here’s why.
Do Raw Bones Really Clean Dogs Teeth?
Yes! In the wild, canines clean their own teeth by chewing the bones of their prey. But before you stock up on bones from the butcher, there are a few things to consider. There’s plenty of concern out there about bones, and some of it is justified. You may have heard that bones can splinter and cause internal injuries to our pets. Or, that dogs can crack their teeth on them, or even swallow large bits that can cause intestinal obstructions. These things are possible, but also very preventable if you follow some simple guidelines.
- Feed Raw Bones Only
Cooked bones can splinter and cause injuries, either in your dog’s mouth or in their digestive system. Smoked bones and antlers can be too hard, causing cracks in your dog’s teeth. Only feed your dog 100% raw bones.
- Don’t Feed Dense Bones
Weight-bearing bones of large animals, like cows and bison, are extremely dense. Stay away from leg bones of large animals, as they can increase the risk of cracking teeth.
- Feed the Right Size of Bone
Feeding bones that are too large and dense can cause cracked teeth as well, and bones that are too small can raise the risk of swallowing large pieces. Ideally, bones should be larger than your dog’s mouth, so they can’t take off big chunks. For very small dogs, the rule of thumb is that if you can’t cut the bone with kitchen scissors, it’s probably too big or too hard. Ideally, your dog should spend about 30 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week, working on bones for a noticeable improvement in dental health.
- Feed Meaty Bones
While the action of scraping their teeth against the actual bone does help with teeth cleaning, the act of pulling bits of meat, gristle, and cartilage off the bone is more important. This activity is similar to what brushing and flossing do to our teeth. Serving a meaty bone is a bit messier, but much healthier, than serving a clean bone.
- All Bone Chewing Time Should Be Supervised
Dogs should never be left unsupervised with bones, or anything that they could break a tooth or choke on. Don’t forget to monitor your dog while they’re chewing.
The Best Raw Bones for Dogs
So, what are the best bones for teeth cleaning? There are a few different options, and they’re split into two categories: edible bones and recreational bones.
Edible bones don’t contain marrow. These are things like raw chicken bones: chicken wings, chicken backs, chicken necks, and turkey necks. These types of bones are full of essential minerals and nutrients, and as long as they are raw, it’s safe for your dog to chomp away at them and eat the entire thing. Because they’re soft and can be easily ground up with a meat grinder, they aren’t firm enough to scrub teeth. These are a great supplement to any type of diet, raw or kibble, but they’re not enough for teeth cleaning.
Recreational bones, such as knuckle bones, are harder, larger, and not meant to be consumed. They’re meant to be chewed on for a while, providing mental stimulation and helping to clean teeth. It’s ideal for recreational bones to have some meat, gristle, or cartilage still attached to provide all the flossing and brushing benefits. Marrow bones are an enjoyable treat for your dog, but marrow doesn’t offer any dental benefit and can cause an upset tummy for some dogs. Marrow is also high in fat and may even increase the risk of pancreatitis in sensitive dogs.
Ideally, the bones of medium-sized animals are best for dogs. Lamb bones and goat bones are excellent options for dogs because they’re still abrasive and hard, but not as dense as raw beef bones or raw bison bones.
Raw bones are an excellent option for helping to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. It’s much easier to offer your pups a raw bone 2-3 times a week than to try and convince them that tooth brushing is a fun activity.
We’ve got plenty of choices for raw bones here at our garden centre. Make sure you’re getting bones that are the appropriate size for your dog, and that still has good bits of meat and gristle to shine those pearly whites! Your dog will enjoy their exciting new treat, and you’ll love their fresher breath and improved oral health.