For decades there has been an urban legend swirling around that feeding our pets processed kibble foods will brush their teeth and by cutting out the kibble it will rack up the dental bills!

You will hear pet owners say things like:

  • I feed raw but I need to supplement kibble for my pet’s teeth.
  • My cat loves fresh chicken but its teeth will go bad without kibble.
  • I mix half and half every day. I feed my pet its regular diet and the other half is a dental diet to keep its teeth pearly white.

Why is it an urban myth that feeding your pet kibble keeps their teeth clean? It scrapes against their teeth and should cause a brushing affect, right?

Fact: With millions of pets around the world eating kibble, “it is estimated that 90% of pets over 2 years of age have significant mouth disease and of that 90%, fully 50% require immediate attention.” – Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

Clearly, feeding kibble to your pet to clean its teeth is like you eating a bag of Doritos and using each chip to scrape away tarter.

Ok, so what about the dental diets from the Vets office which have been proven to reduce the amount of bacteria-laden plaque and tartar?

Description: These large pieces of kibble are high in fiber, which force the tooth to sink into the kibble and cause a scrubbing affect. They are low in protein and calcium, which limits mineralization of plaque and tartar.

According to – “It is important to note, however, that not all animals’ needs can be met with dental diet plan […] Additionally, some animals may not be able to tolerate a dental diet formula on a daily basis. In these cases, the dental food can be given as a treat instead [… ] You will need to abstain from sharing table scraps or extra treats with your pet, as this will defeat the purpose of the dental diet.”

Wow sounds like a promising diet!

Let’s have a look at what actually goes into this bag of delicious dental kibble to form those gingivitis-punching bits:

  • Brewers Rice
  • Whole Grain Corn
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Powdered Cellulose
  • Pork Fat
  • Soybean Mill Run
  • Lactic Acid
  • Soybean Oil
  • Chicken Liver Flavor
  • Calcium Sulfate

Now research the ingredients:

Brewer’s Rice: carbs are the main ingredient. Rice has 810g of starch/kg, which the body converts to sugar! Cancer is 1 in 2 dogs & 1 in 3 cats, and guess what cancer thrives on? Sugar!

Corn: A known allergen and least cost grain. 99% of corn used in pet food is genetically modified and contaminated with aflatoxins.

Powdered Cellulose: “Powdered cellulose can be made from sources including recycled cardboard and saw dust. It is a cheap nutrition-less filler used to bulk up a pet food and a low quality fiber.

Soybean Mill Run: A by-product of soybean manufacturing, used as a cheap filler. Soy mimics estrogen and can wreak havoc on the hormonal system. Approximately 90% of soy crops are genetically modified, leaving long term health affects unknown.

There you have it, a cup of almost 60% carbohydrates to triple action fight away the plaque that builds up on your pet’s teeth!

Come on folks! It’s time to wake up and understand that all these processed foods that are designed to try and clear up one problem only create more!

My advice:

Avoid feeding highly processed pet foods and feed a fresh, species appropriate diet. Cutting out the starches and sugars it takes to make kibble can be a big help. Pets evolved on 4% carbs a day, not 40% to 60%.

Couple that with some sort of teeth maintenance chews like a raw bone, and of course a check up by your vet, seems like a way better option for all!

Food advice from Doctor Karen Becker: “Raw diets – even prepared, ground raw diets – help control tartar. Raw ground bone is a gentle dental abrasive, acting like fine sandpaper when chewed, which helps remove debris stuck on teeth. The meat contains natural enzymes, and in addition, raw food doesn’t stick to teeth, unlike starchy kibble.”

Rodney Habib