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TREATS AS A TOOL FOR DENTAL HEALTH

Posted by Susan Bero on

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs, affecting 76% of all canines in the United States. According to a 2016 study by Banfield Pet Hospital, there has been a 23.3% increase in the prevalence of dental disease in dogs since 2006, with steady growth each year.  Greyhounds are notorious for teeth that seemingly attract plaque. Some people are religious about brushing their greyt’s teeth, but many of us struggle with doing it regularly.  Today, I’m going to talk about two natural treats that could help with cleaning your pup’s teeth. 

Chicken Feet 

If brushing your dog’s teeth is not your thing, or your dog will not tolerate it, then try giving them chicken feet instead. When dogs chew on them, this process will naturally remove plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth. Chicken feet might not be the prettiest dog treat, but they are worth a look, as they offer valuable health benefits for our Greyhounds. Chicken feet can act as edible and fully digestible toothbrushes, supporting gum and dental health.

Aren't Chicken Bones Dangerous for Dogs?

Most of us have heard never give chicken bones to a dog. No matter how often repeated, this advice is only partially correct. It is true that the bones of cooked, boiled or fried chicken should not be given to a dog. In fact, you should never give your dog cooked bones of any type. The cooking process dehydrates the bones, making them far more likely to splinter and break. Splintered ones can puncture an organ and lead to life-threatening complications.

Raw or dehydrated (dried) chicken bones are both considered safe and fully digestible. In contrast to cooked chicken bones, their texture is rather soft and brittle. When chewed, they will crush, but not break into pointy objects. Besides some tiny bones, chicken feet mostly consist of skin, connective tissue and cartilage. This is what makes them easily digestible. This also includes their nails. If you feel uncomfortable about them, just cut them off.

Chicken feet are naturally rich in protein, glucosamine and chondroitin. Protein is an important source of energy that should, according to the National Research Council, account for 10% of the diet by weight of an adult dog. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural compounds which are building blocks of cartilage and connective tissue. Countless recent studies have shown the powerful positive effects of the oral supplementation of glucosamine and chondroitin on joint health, arthritis and consequently the overall mobility of dogs and cats. Veterinarians will often recommend glucosamine and chondroitin to treat your pet’s arthritis. If you prefer to give your Grey natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin rather than in pill form, you may want to consider chicken feet. Based on studies, each chicken foot has about 450 mg of glucosamine. This makes them one of the cheapest sources of arthritis treatment for dogs. So we see that chicken feet are not only good for improving your dog's teeth and gum health, but also beneficial for joint pain.

 Where to Buy Chicken Feet for Dogs?

Raw chicken feet are often available in farmers markets, butcher shops, and sometimes in the meat department of grocery stores. I pay $1.98/lb for fresh ones at WalMart (labeled “Chicken Paws”). If you are not into raw feeding, go for dehydrated chicken feet instead, available at pet stores and online. Start slowly and see what your pup thinks of this new treat.

 Beef Marrow Bones

Should you give marrow bones for dogs as a recreational chew? There are pros and cons to this question.  Ask most raw advocates and you’ll hear that raw bones play an important role in their dog’s diet. We are talking today about them as an occasional treat

The Pros

Digestible bones (comprising up to 10% of the diet) provide the necessary calcium your dog requires, and are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. The marrow is rich in fat and therefore high in calories. Consider this if you are trying to put weight on your Grey. Chewing on the relatively soft bone can also help keep teeth tartar and plaque free. Some dogs can be calmed during times of thunderstorms and fireworks by busily chewing a raw marrow bone.

The Cons

On the flip side, raw bones can present a danger. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says, “Bones or bone fragments in some raw diets can result in intestinal obstruction or perforation, gastroenteritis and fractured teeth.” According to DogTipper.com, if you are going to give your dog large marrow bones, give the bones as a fresh treat but then, once your dog has chewed out the marrow and the bone begins to dry, discard the bone. As it dries, the bone becomes harder and more brittle, more likely to splinter into dangerous pieces or to break a tooth.

Where to get them?  Ask at your local supermarket or butcher shop if you don’t see them, as they will most likely have raw bones. Pet stores increasingly have fresh/frozen options, and of course online. 

If you’re worried about a mess in the house, give raw bones outside or indoors on a washable towel, rug or blanket. Don't forget to supervise raw bone chewing at all times.

As with many aspects of life with dogs, choosing whether to serve raw bones or not to your dog is a matter of personal choice, depending on your dog, your dog’s chewing habits, and your schedule. If you are not sure about feeding raw bones, please consult with your veterinarian, so that you can make an informed decision for your dog.

We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever given marrow bones or chicken feet to your Greyhound? Please leave a comment below.


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