Kibble and your dog’s teeth: the ugly truth

I’ve talked to a lot of pet parents since I first started my journey into raw feeding (and helping other people learn to feed raw, giving consultations, working on Raw Pet Digest magazine, and writing two books). And one of the things I’ve heard a lot of people say is that they think that feeding a dry kibble helps keep their dog or cat’s teeth clean. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. In fact, kibble may actually contribute to dental disease.

Periodontal disease is an epidemic

Unlike us, dogs and cats can’t move their jaws from side to side, so they can’t chew their food or get rid of food stuck in the back of their mouth like we can. Unlike species-appropriate raw food diets, processed pet food tends to contribute to plaque and tartar because it gets stuck on the teeth or in the gum line And kibble contains a lot of carbohydrates (even the “grain-free” kibbles), which break down into sugar. Sugar increases plaque, and it also feeds the “bad” bacteria that live in your pet’s mouth. Plaque, of course, leads to tartar, and gingivitis, and periodontal problems.

Bad oral health is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions for our pets: tooth problems and periodontal disease are one of the top reasons pet parents take their pets to the vet, and the American Veterinary Dental Society says that over 80% of pets have “significant periodontal disease by age 3.”

How to help your dog beat the odds

Many pet owners notice their pet’s teeth have lots of tartar and plaque, and their gums are red and inflamed. They also notice their dogs have bad breath. Some people brush their pet’s teeth. Some get their teeth professionally cleaned. Often, this means they are put under, which can be dangerous and expensive. Some people buy pet dental chews. And some just ignore the issue until it gets so bad the dog needs serious dental attention.

While poor oral health is not always because of a processed-food diet, oftentimes it is. A species-appropriate raw diet, particularly one that includes raw meaty bones, however, scrapes the teeth clean, and it doesn’t leave any nasty residue on the teeth. Many dogs that are fed a species-appropriate raw diet have sparkling white teeth, healthy gums, good breath, and healthy jaws. And the best news is that a species-appropriate raw food diet can help your pet’s oral health, no matter what age they are. By feeding your pet what nature designed them to eat, you’ll help keep their teeth and gums—actually, all their systems!—healthy inside and out.

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