How to keep your dog's teeth clean

How to keep your dog's teeth clean

It's that time of year again. Leaves are starting to turn, the temps are getting cooler, and it's candy season. So in honor of Halloween month we at Brown Bear thought it would be a good time to talk dental hygiene. 

This is a controversial topic and one with misconceptions so let me preface this blog post by saying this is my opinion but one held by others in the raw feeding community.

Public enemy #1 for dental disease is sugar. In a dogs diet we don't and shouldn't see candy as a culprit for tooth damage but what breaks down into simple sugars? Starch. Starchy carbohydrates are a major contributing factor to tooth decay and bacterial imbalances in a dog's mouth. Think about eating a dry bowl of cereal and how it clumps and wedges itself into the gum line. Kibble does the same thing to dogs. 

An old myth is that kibble scrubs teeth clean, but that could not be further from the case. Disagree? Lift up your pup's gums after a kibble meal and see the starchy clumps of food that will break down into sugars. 

There are tons of doggy toothbrush and dental treats out there, and some of them do a good job. However, there are a bunch that contribute to the problem even more by causing an imbalance to the natural beneficial bacteria in your dog's mouth; so it is important to be choosy when selecting both foods and treats. 

There is a better way to feed and help prevent dental disease; by eliminating high starch diets and replacing them with raw feeding. Raw does several awesome things for your dog's mouth:

1) Eliminates odor. Yes you heard me right. The bacterial balance in your dog's mouth is maintained by a beneficial population that you reinforce when feeding raw. It contains natural enzymes and good bacteria that naturally keep tooth decay down and improve breath. It has amazed me how much our dog's breath has improved after switching.

2) Cleans teeth. This is done by enzyme and bacteria activity mentioned above, and is a fantastic route to a healthy mouth. Instead of worrying with costly yearly cleanings and scrubbing your dog's mouth out, this feeding method does it for you.

3) Keeps sugar levels down. Raw is not starchy and sugary so it helps prevent the leading cause of tooth decay in dogs by not including high sugars in the diet.

Our favorite raw company is Answers pet food, and they win by a long shot! They are balanced, sustainable, organic, non-gmo, certified humane, and use ZERO plastics. I love that they are small batch and fermented as well! If you are wondering about cost, the average sized dog (50lbs) would be around $5-6 per day. 

Moist low glycemic freeze-dried and kibble diets are definitely better than the starchy kibble alternatives. We just recommend 3 things if you go this route:

1) Make sure the starches in your dogs food are low on the glycemic index. Look for ingredients like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. We are fans of Steve's Real FoodGrandma Lucy's Freeze dried diets, don't let their small size fool you! The 10 pound bag of Grandma Lucy's should last you about a month for an average sized dog. The 1.25 pound bag of Steve's should last about 5 days for an average dog.

2) Always add water to these diets, yes even kibble. Adding moisture this way help improve more than just dental health.

3) Give a teeth cleaning treat after each meal, we are big fans of Sam's Yam's Sweet potato chews and Lamb Marrow horns.  A raw meaty bone per week is also a great idea.

 About the author:

Jessica Morton, PAS has been working in the animal nutrition industry for 8 years, and owns Brown Bear Barkery and Outfitter. She lives with her husband and fur-children Tulip and Lyra in Greenville, SC. 

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