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Does Dry Kibble Clean Dog's Teeth? Cleaning Dog's Teeth without Brushing-is it Possible?

When I worked at the Vet Surgery there was a poster on the wall of the consult room. It showed a technical 'medical' illustration of a dogs incisor tooth and a second 'technical' illustration of a piece of Kibble, specifically the one 'formed to provide an excellent teeth cleaning design'

The third medical looking illustration showed the tooth and the kibble and implyed that the specific shape of the piece of kibble would provide a scrubbing action, therefore cleaning the dog's teeth while they chewed.

I remember looking at that poster (very kindly provided by the company that makes the kibble), and thinking to myself that it seemed really logical, and the poster made perfect sense.

As my knowledge increased I began to absolutely hate that piece of marketing, so much so that I had an argument with the Vet on duty one afternoon about it.

When I challenged this implied logic, the Vet was very quick to jump to the defence of the company that produced this product ('which has done so much research about the specific shape of the dry food, obviously they know what works'), and very quick to point to the reception area which was well stocked with this product as well as all the rest in their range. Hmmmmmm.....

Here is the simple truth about this well known style of Kibble. It is an invention of the marketing company tasked with selling this product and making their client a bucketful of money.

IT IS A FABRICATION, A LIE. It does not clean teeth at all!


So how can this big pharmaceutical company just lie and get away with it?


There is no regulation in the industry around claims and promises made. They can say what they want, and they do, but wrapped up in multi-million dollar marketing so it seems logical at surface level.

Think about the promises around 'COMPLETE AND BALANCED'. It is a well known fact that not one single brand or type of food, or combination of ingredients can ever be truly 'complete and balanced' if that is the only thing your dog is fed. And yet, look at the packets of almost all brands of dry food and they all say they are complete and balanced implying that is all you will have to feed your dog for its entire life. Lies!

That's a topic for another blog, back to the amazing teeth cleaning Kibble.


Why doesn't it clean my dog's teeth like the picture promises?


A dog's saliva is different for a humans. It is missing key enzymes that humans have (who have evolved to thrive on grains, starches and carbs).


What does dog's saliva do to the kibble?

So, the main key ingredient in this carefully shaped dry pellet is starch/carbohydrate. A dog's saliva breaks it down into, basically sugars.

The simple fact is dogs have yearly dental cleanings and is more common than any other vet care that’s needed. What’s interesting about this? H***s manufactures a prescription diet called t/d Oral Health Canine which is purported to scrub away plaque. And they provide a pretty 'medical ' poster to show how the 'works'.

Can Kibble Scrub Away Plaque? Can we clean Dog's Teeth without Brushing?

Were these dogs being fed the t/d diet?

If this diet is so effective and the dogs eating other H***’s diets need yearly dental cleanings, then why not add the magic properties in the t/d food to all of their foods? Wouldn’t it prevent the dogs from having to undergo yearly teeth cleaning surgery?

It’s nice to know the dogs are being looked after, but if the dogs require yearly dental cleanings, isn’t H***’s overlooking the fact that their feeding trials might not be all that successful?

Can a diet be called 100% nutritionally adequate if the dogs eating this diet are suffering from tooth decay and dental disease?

The fact is, all kibbles, regardless of advertised benefits to the contrary, cause dental disease in dogs. Plaques, stained teeth and tartar buildup have been accepted as normal for most dogs when this is a very unnatural sign of improper diet, bacterial imbalance and chronic disease.

Making The Connection

Dental disease is at epic proportions, affecting over 70 percent of dogs and cats before the age of two. First, and most obvious, high levels of sugars and simple carbohydrates provide rapidly available nutrition for oral bacteria. Secondly, poor nutrient quality simply does not support the immune system. Third, and probably most important, though commonly overlooked, rancid foods contribute greatly to degeneration of all body tissues. The gums are either particularly sensitive or are just easily visible, but I commonly see inflamed gums in an otherwise apparently healthy animal. In either case, this provides an early warning sign for the beginning of chronic disease.

Dental disease is a sign of chronic disease that should be taken seriously

Removing plaque buildup surgically removes the plaque but does nothing to address the cause. In fact, the yearly surgery to remove plaque and tartar buildup contribute to the decline in health, as the toxic chemicals in the anaesthetic will stress the liver and immune system.

The reason the H***’s dogs pass their feeding trials, despite the food causing persistent, chronic disease? Vets accept dental disease as a natural occurrence in dogs when it isn’t. Unnatural foods lead to unnatural outcomes.

Even ground raw diets help prevent tartar build up, as the meat contains natural enzymes, and raw diets do not stick to the teeth, unlike diets that are high in starch. Kibble has long been touted as helping keep teeth clean because of its abrasive action. Have you ever watched your dog eat kibble? You have surely noticed that they don’t chew the stuff, they bolt it down whole.

When it comes to dental disease, this is certainly true. Feeding your dog a raw diet can save him from both dental disease and the yearly surgery to remove tartar and plaque caused by processed foods.

Many people don’t realise that neglecting their pet’s teeth can have wide ranging health consequences that go far beyond stinky breath and gum disease.

Small Dogs’ Mouths Require Extra Attention

A recently published large-scale study concludes that small breed dogs tend to be more at risk for periodontal (gum) disease than larger breeds.2 For the study, researchers reviewed over 3 million veterinary records across 60 breeds of dogs in the U.S. and found that gingivitis and periodontitis occurred in 18% of dogs overall.

It’s important to note that the true incidence of canine periodontal disease can only be confirmed through in-depth clinical investigation under anesthesia, however, the 18% figure is consistent with other study findings based on oral exams on conscious (non-anesthetized) dogs.

The study authors found that dogs under 6 kilos were up to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with periodontal disease than dogs over 25 kilos. In addition to body size, risk factors included a dog’s age, being overweight, and time since last scale and polish. The five breeds with the highest incidence of periodontal disease were:

  1. Greyhound (38.7%)

  2. Shetland Sheepdog (30.6%)

  3. Papillon (29.7%)

  4. Toy Poodle (28.9%)

  5. Miniature Poodle (28.2%)

Giant breeds (e.g., the Great Dane and Saint Bernard) had the lowest incidence. The researchers note that there can be several reasons why smaller dogs develop more dental issues than their larger counterparts, including the fact that they often have proportionally larger teeth (i.e., their tooth size isn’t scaled down to their body size).

Larger teeth in a smaller mouth can lead to overcrowding and increased accumulation of plaque that results in gum inflammation. Small breeds also have less alveolar bone (the bone that contains tooth sockets) compared to their relatively large teeth.

5 Steps to Help Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy, Dental Pet Treats

Cleaning Dog's Teeth without Brushing is really easy to achieve:

  1. Feed a nutritionally optimal, species-specific, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog or cat gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a kind of natural toothbrush and dental floss.

  2. If you have a dog, offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones, but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can't chew raw bones. Check out our dental range here if you are worried about bones splintering and causing harm:

  3. Perform routine mouth inspections. Your pet should allow you to open his mouth, look inside, and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you'll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your pet's breath that aren't diet-related.

  4. Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet's mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anaesthesia, if necessary.

It's easy to clean your dogs teeth - let him do it himself!

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Excellent read

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