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Feeding, Diet & Treats
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August '05

A couple of months back after much research and talking to people whose dogs are on raw diets I decided to add some beef ribs to my dogs' diet. My dogs are all very healthy but dental health is a major concern in dogs (and small dogs in particular). I had read about the wonderful effects of dogs eating the meat from and chewing on raw bones. I thought that a meat supplement to their kibble might be a good idea and I knew I wanted to try anything that would effect dental health.

When I gave them the first bones, four of them had just had their teeth done at the vet, under anesthesia, for about $150. each. Molly's teeth were the worst but since she had gone into heat before I expected she missed her turn and would have to wait until her pups were weaned. This was a blessing in disguise.

I had heard everyone's claims that bones would clean the teeth and - forgive me - I didn't believe it. I'm too used to being lied to by all the dog food and treat food companies who insist that their particular will get dog's teeth clean and keep them clean. But I figured it might help some and I was having a hard time getting myself to brush 10 little sets of teeth every other day which I had vowed I would do and had been doing for a couple of months.

After Molly had had her first four beef ribs it dawned on me to look at her teeth. I was astounded.  I took a picture of her teeth, cursing myself for not having taken one before I gave her any bones. The arrow points to some nasty plaque. That is what the most of the surface of her tooth looked like and what the entire gum line looked like.

After two more ribs more of the plaque is gone. It is like a glacier breaking up. I have never seen anything else (except a dental tool) that can remove chunks of plaque like this.

After 8 ribs the dark brown stain on the inside front (has she been sneaking out for a smoke?) has almost disappeared.

After 10 bones the gum line is almost entirely free from plaque and still improving.

As you can see, her teeth are not perfectly clean yet. I do not doubt that they will be. The lower tooth still has a lot of nasty brown on it. I considered taking her in for her cleaning but decided against it for the sake of experimentation. I want to see if all of these stains will completely go away. I am guessing they will. Molly doesn't mind my decision at all. She's willing to partake in an experiment that gives her more meaty bones.

The only objection I've found - from my vet and some others is regarding the bacteria in raw meat. As a rare steak eater I was not overly concerned about this. It is possible for there to be salmonella or some other bacteria in raw meat but canines can tolerate a whole lot more of that than humans can. A dose of e-coli that would make us deathly ill might only cause a mild digestive upset in a dog. You'll have to make your own decision. I've made mine, against the suggestions of my vet, but I'm very glad I did. (By the way, the vet's also tell me that - coincidentally - my dogs have good teeth.)

The ribs I feed my dogs are beef ribs from the grocery store. I buy a slab or package of ribs and have the butcher cut them in half since that's all these little dogs need. You can wrap them individually and toss them into the freezer. You can even give them to the dog while they're still frozen (although I only do that when I forget to thaw them). I recommend doing this about twice a week and starting as soon as you bring your puppy home. Beef ribs have a wonderful side-effect in crate training your pup. When putting a puppy in the crate you need something super yummy to get them used to being in there. In the mind of a pup or dog there is nothing yummier than a beef rib.

Revised: 01/18/13.
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