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How do you provide preventive care for your dog’s teeth? Do you trust their everyday chewing will be enough, brush their teeth, provide special treats (greenies, etc.), or something else? I’d like to hear the best way you have found to care for canine teeth!

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3 hours ago, AnnaKat said:

...Do you trust their everyday chewing will be enough[?]...

Without knowing what you consider to be "everyday chewing" that's impossible to answer. From your other options I doubt your definition and mine will be the same.

I do count on my dogs' everyday chewing to be enough, but my dogs are raw fed. So because they get virtually no carbs, which is what gunks up teeth, and also get edible bones more days than not, their teeth are clean. My 14 y.o. who's been fed raw since I got him at ~1 1/2 had never had his teeth cleaned and vets comment about how great they are and how they don't need to be cleaned.

Up until I started feeding raw 20 years ago, my dogs were fed kibble but got fresh beef knuckle bones every week or 2. That kept their teeth pretty clean.

But if you feed high carb kibble (e.g. any commercial kibble) and your dog's chewing amounts to some carb laden biscuits, synthetic nylon toys and/or rawhides, then they're going to build up plaque and tartar and you're going to have to do something about it.

I have no experience with Greenies or the stuff you put in water to help prevent buildup. I have known some ppl who have and they still have had to have their dogs' teeth scaled from time to time.

 

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9 hours ago, GentleLake said:

Without knowing what you consider to be "everyday chewing" that's impossible to answer. From your other options I doubt your definition and mine will be the same.

Yes, you’re right. I should have clarified! 
 

May I ask what you’ve found in terms of how affordable it is to feed raw? I’ve done some research into it and I would prefer to feed raw but the expense is a concern. Have you found it to be much more expensive than buying a mid to high priced kibble?
 

I imagine (like people who eat better and may have fewer doctor visits) you probably save money on vet bills by feeding better quality food and keeping them in good health via diet.

Thanks for your input. Your posts are always detailed and informative and I appreciate that.

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Since I don't feed all raw or give my dogs bones, I brush their teeth and scale as necessary. I don't do it as often as I really should, but their teeth are pretty good because I use an excellent toothpaste on them. Actually, I started using it myself as well, and had more than one dentist tell me I was doing a great job of taking care of my teeth, which I had not ever heard prior to my use of this stuff. It will prevent plaque and if there already is a buildup, it will soften it and make it possible to chip it off your dog's teeth with a fingernail. I learned about it from my dentist. Expensive, but worth it. This is it:

Ortene

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I feed kibble mostly but I have found that if I give my dogs a portion of what I cook for myself (low carb meals) it makes a difference, not sure why but whatever works.  Before, when I was only feeding kibble, I would give them uncooked bones to chew on and that kept their teeth really clean.  

I won't feed Greenies.  For starters I never found they made any kind of a difference and secondly I have had a few dogs get serious diarrhea from them even when I tried cutting the recommended sized ones in half.  

Edited to say:  My dogs also have Nylabones and love them.  They help a lot too.  I can't give my dogs normal bones anymore; I have developed a bit of an OCD issue and can't touch them.  The Nylabones have been a wonderful replacement.

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One important way to keep your dog's teeth clean is to choose the right parents.  I've  had as many as five dogs at one time, all fed the same thing, all drinking the same water, and they ran the gamut from consistently nice white shiny teeth to chronically brown teeth, and it wasn't entirely age-related. 

I used to give my dogs raw knuckle bones and nylabones to chew, and I think both those things helped clean teeth.  But after one $1700 bill for a doggie root canal, and another $700 for an extraction of a slab fracture on a different dog, and I decided no more large bones.  My dental vet told me if it's too hard to dent with your finger nail, it's a hazard for  cracking teeth.  They still get raw turkey necks occasionally, but not often enough to keep the teeth clean.  I tried the stuff you add to drinking water briefly, but it's expensive and I was ending up pouring half of it down the drain whenever I freshened the water bowl, so I didn't continue using it long enough to tell whether it helped.  I now have one dog whose teeth were already turning brown by the time he was a year old (while my 13 year old's teeth stayed nice and clean with maybe a weekly tooth brushing).  So I've upped my tooth brushing to daily, and it definitely makes a difference.  It was kind of a pain at first, but really it only takes about 2 minutes, and it's now just as much a part of the daily routine as feeding and cleaning food and water bowls.  On the advice of a breeder of papillons, a breed notorious for terrible teeth, I've also started adding a good sized splash of decaf green tea to their food every day.  There is a bit of evidence that green tea may affect the growth of mouth microbes, although I'm skeptical that the nano second that the liquid is in the dog's mouth before it is gulped down can really make a difference. But, her dogs do have lovely clean teeth, green tea is cheap, and so I put it in the category of "can't hurt, might help".

 

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My dogs are raw fed, the older one has excellent clean teeth even if they are 1/3 size they should be from a habit of carrying logs around. The younger one has one area that is dodgy and shows plaque, it’s better since I switched to raw but certainly not pearly white.  As already mentioned genetics play a role, a previous border collie also had teeth that needed periodic cleaning, whilst my other dog at the time only needed dentistry when she cracked a tooth at 12. Other than a decent diet and raw meaty bones I don’t do anything special, between all the things I do with my dogs I don’t have the discipline to start brushing.

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I’ve never brushed my dogs teeth. None of them have ever needed dental work either.

Cressa at almost 15 years old has some tartar build up but she is on her own schedule. The vet wasn’t concern and it is just slight build up. 

Val at 7.5 years old still have pearly white teeth.

Parker at 3.5 years old has pearly white teeth.

They do get bones almost daily (rawhides <- Ik bad but it’s affordable for me, pork skin roll, cow ears, chicken feet, raw pork neck, and no hides). the rawhides and pork skin rolls are what I normally have on hand everything else is a treat about 1-2x a month. They also always get to choose which bone they want. I try to do different sizes and types to keep it interesting for them.

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On 1/11/2020 at 9:01 AM, D'Elle said:

Since I don't feed all raw or give my dogs bones, I brush their teeth and scale as necessary. I don't do it as often as I really should, but their teeth are pretty good because I use an excellent toothpaste on them. Actually, I started using it myself as well, and had more than one dentist tell me I was doing a great job of taking care of my teeth, which I had not ever heard prior to my use of this stuff. It will prevent plaque and if there already is a buildup, it will soften it and make it possible to chip it off your dog's teeth with a fingernail. I learned about it from my dentist. Expensive, but worth it. This is it:

Ortene

This looks like a great option. Thank you!

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On 1/11/2020 at 9:44 AM, n0mad said:

Edited to say:  My dogs also have Nylabones and love them.  They help a lot too.  I can't give my dogs normal bones anymore; I have developed a bit of an OCD issue and can't touch them.  The Nylabones have been a wonderful replacement.

I wish mine liked Nylabones but she ignores them! She loves antlers but I grew concerned about how hard they are and stopped giving them to her.

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On 1/11/2020 at 11:00 AM, Hooper2 said:

One important way to keep your dog's teeth clean is to choose the right parents.  I've  had as many as five dogs at one time, all fed the same thing, all drinking the same water, and they ran the gamut from consistently nice white shiny teeth to chronically brown teeth, and it wasn't entirely age-related. 

 

That’s a good point!
the green tea idea sounds interesting. I’ll look into that. Thank you!

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On 1/11/2020 at 1:01 PM, alligande said:

My dogs are raw fed, the older one has excellent clean teeth even if they are 1/3 size they should be from a habit of carrying logs around. The younger one has one area that is dodgy and shows plaque, it’s better since I switched to raw but certainly not pearly white.  As already mentioned genetics play a role, a previous border collie also had teeth that needed periodic cleaning, whilst my other dog at the time only needed dentistry when she cracked a tooth at 12. Other than a decent diet and raw meaty bones I don’t do anything special, between all the things I do with my dogs I don’t have the discipline to start brushing.

It sounds like good genetics and feeding raw is the best chance at caring for teeth. Thanks!

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On 1/11/2020 at 4:06 PM, SS Cressa said:

They do get bones almost daily (rawhides <- Ik bad but it’s affordable for me, pork skin roll, cow ears, chicken feet, raw pork neck, and no hides). the rawhides and pork skin rolls are what I normally have on hand everything else is a treat about 1-2x a month. They also always get to choose which bone they want. I try to do different sizes and types to keep it interesting for them.

I’ve had trouble finding something my dog enjoys chewing. She loves antlers but they are very hard and I’m concerned about her breaking a tooth. Nothing else catches her interest as well as antlers though. Thanks for your input!

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I wish mine liked Nylabones but she ignores them! She loves antlers but I grew concerned about how hard they are and stopped giving them to her.

Spit on it and rub it around with your hands then give it back to your dog.  Mine wouldn't chew them either until someone told me this; has worked every time.

Edited to say:  Depending on the Nylabone, they are probably harder than antlers.

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On 1/11/2020 at 6:30 AM, AnnaKat said:

May I ask what you’ve found in terms of how affordable it is to feed raw?...Have you found it to be much more expensive than buying a mid to high priced kibble?

I actually haven't done a cost comparison.

However, in anticipation of adopting a dog that I was told had sever digestive issues and could only eat certain types of dry food* I went shopping at a local chain pet store. I was flabbergasted by the cost of, as you call them, mid- to high end kibbles.

I know with certainty that I don't spend that kind of money feeding my dogs! I do, however, buy much of my meat from wholesalers, travel a bit of a distance sometimes (mostly time the pickups with other trips planned nearby), watch sales and close-dated markdowns at supermarkets and occasionally score freezer burned meat that people will be throwing away. I also have 3 freezers for 3 dogs -- one ~7 cf, one ~5 cf, and one ~3 cf. It may be more efficient to have one or 2 larger ones but this allows me to have the medium sized one in the house and the 2 others in the garage and sometimes when things are low to unplug the smallest one and only use it when I need it.

I also believe there's an additional savings in not having to take my dogs to the vet all the time. We still go for annual wellness exams and routine testing, but rarely have to go for anything in between. My 8 y.o.'s been testing positive for Lyme disease for 4-5 years but has never had a symptom; she cleared the infection on her own. Since feeding raw I've never had to have any of my dogs put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning, and one dog's teeth were so bad when I adopted her that the vet wanted to do it then and there. A year later she was astounded by the difference and at first thought I may have had the dog's teeth cleaned by someone else. 18 years later she still remembers this and regularly tells vet students shadowing her practice about it and that they shouldn't believe everything they're taught about dog food in vet school (her words, not mine). That dog lived to be 17 years and 10 months old. My current older purebred border collie is now between 14 & 16 1/2 y.o. according to original vet estimates and he's at least 1 1/2 years older than any previous PB I've had.

Small sample, I know, and I'm sure others have had longer living dogs, so not saying this is universal (I also had a raw fed dog who died at 3, but vet. misdiagnosis and malpractice played a part in it).

And with what's been recently published about glyphosate levels in companion animals (see article posted in Health & Genetics forum today), I believe it's another confirmation that I'm making the right choice.

*(Said dog has been with me for about 6 weeks now and has been completely transitioned to raw and is having no digestive issues whatsoever.)

 

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On 1/11/2020 at 12:00 PM, Hooper2 said:

I used to give my dogs raw knuckle bones and nylabones to chew, and I think both those things helped clean teeth.  But after one $1700 bill for a doggie root canal, and another $700 for an extraction of a slab fracture on a different dog, and I decided no more large bones.  My dental vet told me if it's too hard to dent with your finger nail, it's a hazard for  cracking teeth.

The rule of thumb I've most often heard is to avoid the weight bearing bones of large ungulates. Essentially this mean cattle, moose, elk, bison, etc. Those bones are incredibly dense, and while many dogs seem to get away with chewing them without problems, the risk is too great for breaking teeth. A lot of it has to do with how dedicated a chewer an individual dog is. I've had dogs who'd only lick out the marrow and pull the little remaining meat and connective tissue off and really not put teeth to the bone. I've had others who'd have chewed and chewed till they surely would have broken a tooth, so I just don't offer them anymore. I will occasionally get some and remove the nutritious marrow to feed separately before using the bones to make bone broth.

I'm sure there can be individual differences in tooth strength depending on a dog's genetics or nutritional history. I had one dog who broke 2 teeth on frozen chicken bones. Needless to say I thaw everything now.

Beef knuckle bones, however, are the softer joints and are completely edible. Most when cut will have a small portion of the long bone it's attached to remaining at the end. I always made sure to take that part away when my dogs had consumed the edible portion and only the part part remained. Never had a broken tooth following that practice, though others' experience may be different.

 

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On 1/15/2020 at 3:23 PM, GentleLake said:

I went shopping at a local chain pet store. I was flabbergasted by the cost of, as you call them, mid- to high end kibbles.I know with certainty that I don't spend that kind of money feeding my dogs! I do, however, buy much of my meat from wholesalers, travel a bit of a distance sometimes (mostly time the pickups with other trips planned nearby), watch sales and close-dated markdowns at supermarkets and occasionally score freezer burned meat that people will be throwing away. 

 

Apologies for all the questions, but what kind of things do you buy regularly in order to have a balanced diet? I’m thinking seriously of changing mine to feeding raw but I’m nervous about making sure I provide everything she needs. And how do you know how much to feed? 
 

I suspect my dog will have no problem eating meals if I switch to raw but currently she will go days without eating much kibble and then eat well a couple days before going back to barely eating anything. She is on the small side already and the pounds she keeps dropping and gaining show very easily. 
 

Do you incorporate parts of the meals as treats in training sessions? I also use food puzzle toys frequently to keep her busy.

Are there any good books or other resources you would recommend?

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