Myth: Dry dog cereal type commercial food/kibble is good for your dog’s teeth. Don’t feed a wet food diet because that is bad for your dog’s teeth.
I remember repeating that over and over again to clients, as instructed to by the veterinarian I worked for. I remember assisting with surgeries as he removed the calculus buildup along the gum line from countless “kibble-only” dogs.
Then I began taking classes on anatomy & physiology, nutrition, and animal husbandry. And it hit me: there is no way in the world that dry dog food is good for a dog’s teeth. Dry dog food is primarily made up of carbohydrates. These are broken down into simple sugars by an enzyme in saliva called amylase. That means that when kibble is chewed up in the mouth (and coats the teeth via the saliva) it is essentially coating the teeth with simple sugar. That sounds like a recipe for tooth decay and gingivitis if I ever heard one!
Wet Food is Better and I Can Prove It
Wet food is better for your dog’s teeth. Don’t believe me? I want you to eat a saltine cracker or two without anything to drink.
How do your teeth feel? Do they feel clean? Would you replace your toothbrush and paste with a sleeve of saltines?
I didn’t think so.
Now rinse or brush out your mouth. Eat a bowl of chunky applesauce.
Tell me, which food stuck more to your teeth? Which food is more likely to coat the teeth in carbohydrates, which are broken down directly into sugar by the enzyme found in saliva called amylase?
Oh yes, the dry cracker and certainly not the applesauce. Yet the myth of dry food “cleaning the teeth” still abounds. Would you ever clean your teeth with a handful of dry cheerios or a bowl of goldfish crackers? No? Yuck. Me either.
Dry dog food might possibly scrape a little at the teeth, mechanically removing some plaque on the crowns and surfaces of the dog’s back teeth. Whoopee. That doesn’t help at all. In all the years I assisted with doggie dental cleanings I never once saw the doc scrape tartar off the biting surfaces of teeth, for either kibble or wet food eaters.
The buildup and cause of decay and gingivitis is always along the gum line. Kibble is simply never going to sweep along there and wipe out the plaque. Kibble does not even touch the surfaces of the large front teeth, which are needed for holding and tearing meat. Kibble does nothing but coat the teeth in grainy-dry carbohydrates, primed to turn to simple sugar and rot the teeth of the dog right out of his head.
Doggie Dental Hygiene
There is no magic cure. No amount of chews and bones and toothbrush-shaped treats or calculus dissolving chemicals sprayed onto kibble is going to clean your dog’s teeth for you in any kind of meaningful way. Would you gnaw on a strip of beef jerky and expect your teeth to be clean?
The only way to ensure your dog has clean and healthy teeth is to
- ensure you are feeding him a very low carbohydrate diet
- ensure he isn’t getting too much sodium and is getting lots of moisture in his food as well as in the form of water (dehydrated dogs cannot produce enough saliva to help wash away the germs that cause plaque).
- Brush his teeth for him using a toothbrush or even a washcloth wrapped around your finger (daily if at all possible)
So there you have it, myth busted. Kibble isn’t good for your dog’s teeth and I’m not going to start brushing my teeth with Ritz any time soon, either. This is yet another disgusting way that dog food manufacturers lie to push their product. This is something that Colgate-Palmolive tells veterinary students who are learning in school to push their prescription crap.
It is kind of ironic that a large toothpaste company would be advocating that anything or anyone keep their teeth clean using dry cereal instead of a natural diet full of moist, non-sticky foods and fresh water and a toothbrush.
You can use flavored doggie toothpaste if you want to. I use plain baking soda (just a tiny bit) when I need to. It is very simple to train your dog to sit still for dental cleanings. Since this is something you should try to do every single day it doesn’t take long to get your dog used to the routine and trained to sit still and tolerate the oral disruption