The most common problem that affects dogs' mouths is gum disease and keeping your dog healthy includes taking care of their oral hygiene. Taking care of your dog’s teeth and giving them a healthy diet can decrease their risk of oral diseases later on. Untreated dental disease can cause tooth loss and other painful infections in your dog’s body. 

Bad breath can be a common sign of oral disease in your dog. It's natural for your dog's breath not to smell great. But if your dog’s breath is overwhelming, it may be caused by periodontal disease or decaying teeth. 

Dental disease can be painful, but most animals are extremely good at covering up the signs and will rarely stop eating.

Look out for:

  • difficulty picking up food
  • bleeding or red gums
  • loose teeth
  • blood in saliva, water bowl or on chew toys
  • strange noises when eating
  • pawing at mouth/face
  • dribbling

If in any doubt, ask your vet.

Checking your dog’s gums and teeth every few weeks will help you know what’s going on in their mouth. Their gums should be pink. If they are white, red, or swollen, you might want to schedule a visit to the vet. Dental disease can cause a lot of pain and after years of tartar, plaque, and bacteria build up, your dog could have an infection, inflammation, or decaying tooth.

Tooth decay can happen over time. It starts with plaque building up and hardening into tartar. Untreated tartar and plaque buildup below the gumline can be difficult to remove and damages the tooth. 

Untreated tooth decay and infection can lead to periodontal disease. This can be life threatening to your dog. Brushing regularly and managing your dog’s oral health can prevent tooth decay. 

Brushing your dog’s teeth might not be something you’re aware you need to do. But it can be a great way to prevent plaque buildup. Unlike humans, you don’t need to brush their teeth daily. Your dog may not like having their teeth brushed at first, but making a routine out of it and getting them excited can help. 

There are many different products on the market that claim to reduce tooth decay from Seaweed supplements to dental chews and your vet may recommend a dental which would involve a General Anaesthetic, which always carries a risk, and most owners find that once their dogs teeth have been cleaned by a vet the tartar builds up far more quickly than it did before.

Raw beef bones as chewing items to reduce dental calculus in dogs


Methods: Eight 3-year-old Beagle dogs were observed in two study periods. In the first study, the dogs each received a piece of bovine femur daily and in the second study, a piece of bovine femur SB (spongy bone). The first study lasted 12 days and the second 20 days. Dental calculus was evaluated using image integration software.


At the start of the studies, dental calculus covered 42.0% and 38.6% of the dental arcade areas, respectively. In study one, the chewing reduced the established dental calculus area to 27.1% (35.5% reduction) after 3 days and after 12 days the dental calculus covering was reduced to 12.3% (70.6% reduction).

In study two, the dental calculus covered 16.8% (56.5% reduction) after 3 days, 7.1% (81.6% reduction) after 12 days and 4.7% (87.8% reduction) after 20 days. The CB (compact bone) remained largely intact after 24 h, but SB was reduced to smaller pieces and in some cases totally consumed after 24 h.

No complications such as tooth fractures, pieces of bone stuck between teeth or intestinal obstructions were observed during the studies.

Conclusions: Chewing raw bovine bones was an effective method of removing dental calculus in dogs. The SB bones removed dental calculus more efficiently in the short term.




Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.