A dog may have bad teeth for a variety of reasons. His teeth may be dirty or broken, some may be missing. He may have periodontal disease. Feeding a dog with bad teeth must take into consideration the cause of the problems with the teeth, the nutritional needs of the dog and what is needed to treat the dog's dental issues going forward. Fortunately, dogs can eat many different foods, both homemade and commercial, to accommodate their physical issues.
Dirty Teeth and Periodontal Disease
Dirty teeth are the precursor to really bad teeth. Tartar buildup leads to bacterial buildup. A foul or fishy odor to the dog's breath might be the first clue that a bacterial buildup exists. If left unattended, the tartar and bacteria can lead to tooth decay and reddened, sensitive gums. Although they can be reversed, these conditions are the precursor to periodontal disease. Once the dog's gums begin to bleed and the bone of the dog's jaw has become involved, periodontal disease has set in. Periodontal disease can be cured, but the damage it does is impossible to erase. Daily tooth care, good food choices and regular dental checkups are the best means of preventing tooth loss caused by periodontal disease.
Raw poultry bones can help clean plaque and mild cases of tartar from your dog's teeth. However, the size of the poultry part should be appropriate to the size of the dog, to prevent him from swallowing it whole or in large chunks. Always check with your vet to determine if raw poultry bones are appropriate for your dog.
Smaller dogs may benefit from chicken necks or wings, while larger dogs may be given chicken backs or turkey wings. However, since accidents can happen even with appropriate bones, make certain to stay with your dog while he chews his bone and always take them away if you must leave him. Once your dog has clean teeth, you can feed his normal diet; however, feeding the occasional soft raw bone will work just like a toothbrush and help keep your dog's teeth clean.
Cracked or Broken Teeth
You may notice that your dog has stopped playing with his recreational bone or that he has stopped eating his large kibble food with enthusiasm. These behaviors might be signs of cracked or broken teeth. Many owners choose to have cracked or broken teeth pulled. Root canal surgery is available through veterinary dental surgeons. Consider feeding your dog softer food or smaller kibbles to accommodate his reluctance to bite down while waiting for the cracked or broken teeth to be removed. You might want to feed canned food or mashed meat and rice until surgery is done. If your dog is prone to breaking his teeth, avoid any very hard foods such as weight-bearing bones from large animals.
Fixing the Problem
Once your dog has missing teeth, whether through periodontal disease or through dental surgery, it becomes more difficult to fix the problem. The best ways to treat bad teeth is to start early prevention or to keep teeth that have been cleaned free of tartar. If you notice that tartar is building up on your dog's teeth, consider some of the following options:
- Feed a grain-free kibble or a raw meat diet.
- Brush your dog's teeth daily.
- Use a dental water additive to reduce the amount of food that sticks to teeth.
- Give your dog hard recreational bones or soft, raw bones to chew on.