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The Biggest Doggy Dental Myth

The Biggest Doggy Dental Myth

. 2 min read

Here’s a question for you: when is the last time you brushed your teeth with a handful of pretzels? You know, other than that one time in college when you were severely hungover?

It’s an absurd idea, of course, but when it comes to your dog’s dental health, there’s a big fat myth persisting that dry kibble keeps your dog’s teeth clean. Like most big fat myths, there’s a little bit of truth mixed in with a whole lot of BS, so let’s break this down to understand.

Here’s what you’ll find in most dog’s teeth:

● Food particles - tiny bits and pieces of your dog’s food (plus whatever he found on the pantry floor)

● Plaque - a sticky film on tooth surfaces

● Tartar - thick, hard layers of calcified plaque along the gumline

In the past, it’s been argued that as dogs chew dry dog food it acts as an abrasive to clean the teeth of plaque and tartar. This is most likely from studies conducted in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘60s that showed overall better oral health for dry food-eating dogs versus their canned food-eating counterparts. A more recent study from 1996 showed no significant difference in dental health for dry food-eating dogs. So, this myth was born out of old information that showed some correlation, but certainly not causation. In short, that was a steroid-fueled jump to a conclusion. And this myth could potentially cause your dog pain and sickness down the road.

To be clear, dry dog food isn’t necessarily bad for your dog’s health, but it’s not the equivalent of brushing twice a day while humming the national anthem. (What, you don’t do that?) Plaque and tartar buildup are the primary causes of periodontal disease in dogs and are fairly easy to manage if you take some initiative. Make like a CEO and delegate this shiz to the right parties:



Who’s In Charge

Food particles

Your dog. Most of these small pieces will be washed away by water, saliva, his own tongue, or your leather sandals you keep leaving out.


You. If you don’t already, it’s time to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Twice a day is ideal, but if that’s not practical because of your dog’s temperament or your own failure to accomplish anything after 8:30 p.m., do it as frequently as possible. A soft, human toothbrush works fine, but use a canine toothpaste (look for “VHOC-approved” stamp) or some doggy dental wipes. You can also supplement teeth brushing with rawhide and knucklebones, which can help clean teeth with an hour-long gnaw.


Your dog’s dentist. Yup, your dog needs a dentist who can go after this tartar with the right dental tools (*shudder, cringe*) at least once per year. Need help finding a dog dentist? Start here.

There you have it. We’ve busted an age-old myth, set the record straight, and set up a game plan for good dental health for your dog. How about a handful of pretzels to celebrate?

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out

Gabby Slome

NYC native. Certified canine nutritionist. Equestrian. World traveler. Columbia Business School grad. Healthy eater. Mom to the best mutt in the world, (well according to me), Pancho.