The Natural Way to Avoid Costly Cleanings
I’ve gotta be honest here. I used to brush Harriet’s and Beverly’s teeth each day. I even flossed between two teeth that were really close together in poor Bevi’s mouth. I have become lazy about this. Shame on me! Dogs are meant to clean teeth as they would in nature. Raw meaty bones are the best tool to maintain clean teeth and they provide nutrients like calcium for your dog. Species appropriate care for teeth allows you to avoid expensive cleanings.
To my credit though, I provide a natural raw species appropriate diet and add digestive enzymes to their food. The food and the enzymes within the food and the supplement help to break down buildup. Enzymes are fragile and die off very readily so being that I do not provide fresh killed meat, I add additional enzymes to compensate.
Dogs need to have that mechanical chewing to assist with cleaning the teeth. Dogs who refuse to chew on these bones need to have their teeth brushed. Raw bones (with meat on them) also contain enzymes. The enzymes and the mechanical action of chewing break up plaque and tartar and maintain healthy teeth and gums. I get their meaty bones and their food from Raw Paws. They carry a dozen different types of bones. I give my dogs raw bones around 3 – 5 times per week. I buy bones by bulk and store them in the freezer. I have an old blanket that I lay onto the kitchen floor and they just go at it. I used to gate them into the kitchen, but now they know to stay in there while eating.
Dogs naturally enjoy chewing. Aside from cleaning teeth, chewing raw bones provides mental stimulation and physical activity.
Those of you who have read my articles know that I am VERY picky to say the least. When the girls are finished, I have a bit of heavily diluted doggie shampoo that I wash their front paws with, rinse with water and then wipe their paws dry. I also wipe down their muzzle area with a damp paper towel. It’s not a big deal, but I like to keep them clean after eating the bones. If your dog is a resource guarder, raw bones might not work out well. You don’t want to try to remove something from a dog who becomes aggressive when you remove the bone.
Choosing Bones for Your Dog:
It is critical that you choose bones that are suitable for your dog. One of my little dogs has fragile teeth so I give them 1/3 of a duck neck each that I get from Raw Paws because tough bones are likely to break little Beverly’s teeth.Some of the softer bone options include turkey necks, duck necks, chicken necks, chicken backs, and meaty goat bones (they are really small). Raw Paws has a dropdown menu to find chews to suit dogs based on the size of your dog. This is very helpful. I use poultry shears to cut them to size. My girls do not gulp them down like vacuums so they are fine with them.
NEVER boil, heat, or cook bones. Raw bones must be served raw then removed as soon as they are finished. They become dry and splinter and become unsafe. Cooking destroys the nutrients that help to clean the teeth. When bones are not raw, they can become brittle and splinter. Do NOT save the bones or let the bones linger. After your dog is given the bone, discard it soon after the meat is gone so your dog can gnaw and pull at the meat on the bone. After that chew “session” remove that bone and throw it away. My dogs usually take around 20 minutes to a half hour to finish up. They chew up the necks really well. The girls love the cartilage which contains lots of nutrients. It is fine for them to chew up and swallow the cartilage.
As with any chew products, you want to check to make sure that your dog is ok. When my girls begin to tear the bones apart into little pieces, I remove the little pieces because they might be sharp. I keep the bones in the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge before giving them to the girls. Do not rinse the bones; just give them the defrosted bones. If your dogs are food possessive, you might need to separate them so they don’t fight over them.
Small dogs with fragile teeth tend to do well with chicken carcasses, wings, and necks (turkey, chicken, goose…). For larger dogs you can feed soft bones like rib bones which can be chewed up and digested.
* Raw bones are typically not recommended for dogs with pancreatitis because of the fat content. You can ask your holistic vet if you can feed really lean meaty bones. Most conventional vets do not have the necessary education about what dogs need to eat.
* Dogs with teeth that fracture easily do better with bully sticks or bones that are really meaty. When the meat is chewed off you can remove and discard it.
* Dogs who gulp stuff down are safer with larger meaty bones. A bone that is the close to the length of your dog’s head will prevent him from swallowing it. When the meat is gone, remove the bone and discard it.
Dangers & Cautions:
Oral injuries: This includes broken and fractured teeth. Bones like marrow bones are very hard and might lead to tooth fractures. I learned this the hard way when Beverly fractured a couple of her teeth when I gave her (and Harriet) bones that were too hard). Stick with bones that have more meat and bones that are softer (like poultry necks and backs). Sharp pieces can scratch inside the mouth. Make sure the bones are not dried out or cooked. These injuries are most common when brittle bones break apart into sharp pieces.
Blockages: Bones can get stuck in the throat and cause a blockage this happens when dogs eat too fast and swallow large piece of bone.
Obstructions: Sharp pieces of bone can become lodged and stuck in the stomach and the intestines.
Every chew product on the market has upsides and downsides. I choose to give my dogs raw bones. I like to give them the poultry necks which are great for smaller dogs. They are not tough on the teeth and can be eaten completely (cartilage is a great source for calcium).
Make sure the bones are meaty and raw so that your dog can chew off the meat and you can discard the bone soon after.
Kimberly Gauthier. “Our Dogs Love Them, but Are Raw Bones Safe for Dogs?” Keep the Tail Wagging. Keep the Tail Wagging, 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://keepthetailwagging.com/are-raw-bones-safe-for-dogs/>.