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How can I keep my dog’s teeth clean?

Q: My golden retriever bitch is now three years old. She was easy to train and works steadily out shooting. Her problem is not training but she builds up a lot of tartar on her back molars. My vet advised regular cleaning with a brush and dog toothpaste plus giving her raw marrow bones and special chews. The brushing is hard work, the chews have made no signficant improvement and I am reluctant to give her raw bones in case that makes her hard-mouthed. Is that a real possibility?

Golden retriever in field

Feeding your dog raw marrow bones will prevent tartar build-up on its teeth and won't make its mouth hard.

A: The build-up of tartar on dogs’ teeth seems worse in those dogs that are fed on all-in-one kibbled dog foods, especially when it is soaked with water before feeding. A more natural diet avoids this build-up occurring. A dog needs to chew to keep its teeth clean and raw marrow bones will have the desired effect. I have never fancied nor had the time to sit down twice a day to brush a kennel-full of dogs’ teeth but instead feed marrow bones on a regular basis.

All my dogs work out on shoots and retrieve large quantities of game during the season without any signs of hard mouth developing with the use of marrow bones. Raw ones are by far the best and will last for days but they are not always easy to obtain. I buy cooked ones by the sackful, which seem to do the same job but unfortunately are easier to consume and can result in quite a mess the next day in the kennel. It is a very natural thing for a dog to eat bones and it certainly will not cause yours to become hard-mouthed.