It's less unusual today than in ages past for a dog lover to tend his pet's teeth with a doggie toothbrush and pooch paste; for ages and still today, the dog's natural means of cleaning his teeth was simply munching on certain foods that scraped away plaque. A variety of hard foods are naturally abrasive and tooth-friendly, among them carrots.
Feeding carrots and other raw vegetables to dogs can help maintain a clean mouth and protect teeth from dental disease. A major benefit of chewing on carrots is that they massage your dog’s gums and enhance blood flow to the gum tissues. Carrots contain vitamin A, which is necessary for maintaining healthy tooth enamel. The minerals in carrots kill germs in the mouth and help prevent tooth damage. The carrot’s natural abrasiveness that helps eliminate the dirt that leads to plaque that forms on your dog’s teeth and beneath the gums. Carrots are great for dental health, because they help remove food particles, increase saliva, prevent tooth decay and destroy harmful germs in your dog’s mouth.
High-fiber foods, including vegetables and certain fruits, accelerate the production of saliva. Saliva counteracts the negative effects of sugar and acids created by bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates in fresh vegetables and fruits. Crunchy vegetables, such as raw carrots, not only increase saliva flow but are high in nutrients and low in calories. Saliva is an acid neutralizer, so it helps rinse food particles and sugars that could lead to plaque formation on your dogs’ teeth.
You can keep your dog’s teeth clean by brushing them daily and by offering your dog abrasive foods, such as raw bones or whole carrots and other raw vegetables every other day.
Keeping dogs’ teeth and gums clean is essential for their health throughout their lives. Eating crunchy carrots and other raw vegetables will remove food particles from your dog’s mouth. Brushing is also important for preventing plaque. This can reduce the amount of plaque and help prevent gum disease. Plaque is a biofilm made up of accumulated micro-organisms that attach to gums and every surface of your dog’s teeth. Daily brushing is necessary to keep plaque from forming and reforming every 24 hours.
The veterinarian should examine your dog’s mouth as part of a yearly checkup. Meanwhile, you should consult your vet any time your dog shows signs of mouth discomfort. Eighty percent to 85 percent of dogs exhibit signs of oral disease by the age of 3. Oral disease can cause pain-induced eating difficulty, loss of teeth and deterioration of bone. If the accompanying bacteria travel into the dog’s bloodstream, heart, liver or kidney infections may occur, leaving your dog very ill.
- USA TODAY: Naturally Whiten Your Teeth With the Right Diet
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Carrots Your Power Food All Year!
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition and Dental Health
- Dog Food Advisor: Dry Dog Food and the Myth of Cleaner Teeth
- Pet Quarterly: Don’t Brush Off Dental Disease in Pets
Maura Wolf's published online articles focus on women, children, parenting, non-traditional families, companion animals and mental health. A licensed psychotherapist since 2000, Wolf counsels individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, body image, parenting, aging and LGBTQ issues. Wolf has two Master of Arts degrees: in English, from San Francisco State University and in clinical psychology, from New College.