I began reading "Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health" by Tom Lonsdale, another Australian veterinary surgeon. His book is rather disturbing as he discusses the commercial pet food industry and how the industry has such a negative impact on the health and longevity of our dogs and cats.
Like many of the veterinarians who promote a fresh, raw, whole foods diet for ultimate health for dogs and cats, he is an advocate of feeding raw meaty bones instead of commercial dog and cat food for all of the obvious reasons, but his point is well made when he discusses at length periodontal disease.
I had no idea how periodontal disease gets started, or how painful it is for a dog or cat from a very young age, if they are not allowed to chew, rip, and tear their food as nature intended. He says that some dogs and cats learn that chewing is actually painful, and go through their lives with a perpetual toothache. These poor creatures eventually need dental work under anesthesia, tooth extractions, and sometimes lose all of their teeth for no reason!
His advice is to allow our dogs and cats to have some raw meaty bones to chew on a regular basis, starting from puppyhood. The raw meaty bones need to be appropriate in size, large enough for the dog or cat chew and rip and not to choke. The action of chewing, ripping, massaging gums and stressing the teeth is exactly what is needed to keep them clean and healthy. Large, hard marrow bones are not advised as they crack and wear down teeth. It's the softer bones like chicken bones that work best.
He, like other vets, have pointed out that the kibble and canned food we find so convenient, starts by causing gum disease, causes bloat, chronic diarrhea, "allergies" causing itchy skin, flatulence and offensive odor, bad breath, even behavioral issues. There is also a connection between periodontal disease and diseases of other organs.
Although his advice to feed a lot of raw meaty bones is well-taken, at our kennel, with so many dogs to monitor, feeding whole chicken quarters for example, is not a wise choice because dogs eating raw meaty bones should be monitored to avoid choking - you really need to know what you're doing in terms of the types of raw meaty bones and the size, and, all dogs are different. I am well aware of the choking hazard, and because dogs generally like to do their chewing on their beds, a clean surface is also a must.
Our solution for clean teeth is chicken necks and rawhide. Each of our dogs loves chicken necks, and they do chew them instead of just swallowing them, so for us lots of chicken necks are the way to go. We had been adding chicken necks to their meals of NAPA FRESH a few times per week, but could easily add them every day. They crunch them and eat them right in their bowls and don't wander off with them, another plus. We also give them safe rawhide, Wholesome Hide, made from thick pieces of US sourced hides, produced with no harmful chemicals. Our dogs' teeth are generally tartar-free, even our seniors. Any tartar that accumulates, presumably from the biscuits we still give them as treats, is easily removed with a thumbnail or a dry, rough washcloth. No dentals under anesthesia have ever been required at Highmeadow Farm.
If you feed any kibble at all, it makes sense to add not only as much NAPA FRESH as you possibly can, but some raw chicken necks, or study up on how to feed raw meaty bones safely, especially if you have very small dogs, or dogs that tend to eat fast, or "inhale" their food. Wholesome Hides are another great option.
One other point to note about Tom Lonsdale's book is that he advises feeding only raw meaty bones as a complete diet. This is controversial among the many vets that recommend a fresh, whole foods raw diet, and here at Highmeadow Farm, we feel much more comfortable that NAPA FRESH, made with human grade ingredients, ground whole meat and bones, and lots of other healthy natural ingredients, is safer, healthier, and more complete. NAPA FRESH is the ultimate, and what our dogs deserve to reach the highest level of health possible, and with the addition of chicken necks to chew, we think that have the bases covered.