How to Feed a Dog With No Teeth
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Tooth loss is relatively common in older dogs, especially when their oral health and hygiene have not been well maintained throughout their lives. A dog may still have some teeth, but even some tooth loss can make eating difficult. If a dog loses their canines, they can have difficulty tearing tough food. When they lose molars, they cannot grind food down for easier consumption. These animals require a diet adapted to their needs, allowing food consumption without any pain, discomfort or injury.
If you are interested in knowing more about how to feed a dog with no teeth, AnimalWised has our guide to feeding toothless dogs. This also includes some help in looking after your dog's teeth to prevent tooth loss in the first place.
The best food for dogs without teeth
Dogs are able to take care of their own oral hygiene to some extent. This is especially the case with a wild dog which only eats prey. Domestic dogs have a different diet and have adapted to living in a home with people. This means their oral hygiene needs are different and require some help from their guardians. If they don't, they will develop tartar build up, have cavities and, eventually, suffer tooth loss.
Missing teeth makes grasping, tearing and chewing food difficult. Dry feed is especially difficult to chew. For this reason, it is essential the guardian adapts the dog's diet accordingly. Such adaptations require the dog's ability to ingest the food as well as avoid any pain or discomfort.
There are two alternatives to
- Wet food: many of the commercial feeds on the market are sold in both wet and dry versions. If you ar able to buy a wet food version of your usual feed, then it can be a great alternative. If it is not available, there will be an alternative. As most toothless dogs will have lost teeth due to advanced years, they will need a feed specific to senior dogs. However, you will need to instigate the change progressively. Mix a little amount of the new feed into the old one, then increase it gradually until you only used new wet food. You may have to cut the food into smaller chunks to avoid a choking hazard.
- Moistened dry food: while a wet food alternative is usually ideal, it can be prohibitively expensive for some. In this case, you can take the regular dry kibble and add a little water. This will make the food easier to ingest. You can make it even more appetizing if you add a little chicken or meat broth, but you will likely have to make it yourself so it has no salt, garlic or other ingredients which are bad for dogs.
For a more general approach to your dog's diet, take a look at our guide to the best diet for dogs.
Homemade food for toothless dogs
If you have both the resources and the knowledge to feed the dog properly, making homemade food for your dog can be ideal solution if they have no teeth. This may, you can not only provide a soft food diet for dogs which they can ingest easily, but you can also ensure they have the best quality nutrition.
Generally, the food in a homemade diet for dogs with no teeth will use similar ingredients to commercial feed. This will include meat, fish and other proteins, as well as lesser amounts of vegetables and certain cereals such as rice. While some animals may be able to eat a raw food diet for dogs, toothless dogs will not. This means the food will need to be cooked to a texture which is easy for the dog to swallow.
Once cooked, you can chop, shred or even mash the ingredients so the dog does not need to chew them. Fresh food cooked in this way is usually more appetizing for the dog. You may need a trail and error period of knowing the best texture for your canine.
We need to ensure no bones, shells or other hard objects are included in their homemade food diet. This can further promote tooth loss. We also need to ensure we are giving them the correct nutrition necessary for their specific organism. This requires speaking to the veterinarian who can assess these needs. Their diet may need supplements in the form of taurine or other essential amino acids, as well as plenty of omega-3-rich foods for dogs.
How to feed a toothless dog
The best way to help a toothless dog eat is by adapting the diet to their needs, as explained in previous sections. Providing a diet with a soft and smooth texture will allow the animal to consume the food without suffering pain, discomfort or further injuries to the mouth. In the same way, offering cooked and mashed foods will facilitate swallowing and help to aid digestion.
You should know that some dogs can take a while to get used to consuming food without prior chewing. In these cases, it is recommended you try different textures as some dogs reject highly ground food, minced or puréed food. In the same way, you can try to offer warm food, so that it is more palatable and appetizing.
Otherwise, you will need to ensure the dog has the right amount of their food as it will not necessarily be the same as their dry kibble. Again, this is something you will need to discuss with your veterinarian. Older dogs may not be able to eat as much in one sitting, so it is usually a good idea to divide the daily amount into smaller portions. This also helps to prevent wet food, moistened kibble and homemade dog food from spoiling.
Removing hard food from a dog's diet is not only beneficial for oral health, as you can see in our article on soft food diet for dogs with diarrhea.
How to prevent my dog from losing teeth
With exceptions such as when a dog loses their baby teeth, tooth loss in dogs is usually associated with inadequate health care and poor oral hygiene. It is important to take into account a series of guidelines to prevent our pets from suffering from tooth loss when they reach adulthood.
- Dental hygiene: teeth cleaning should be done routinely from the moment their permanent adult dentition arrives, i.e. from 7-8 months of age. Toothbrushes and toothpaste for veterinary use should be used, since products intended for people can cause gastritis. To maintain proper oral hygiene it is necessary to clean 2 or 3 times a week. Take a look at our article on how to clean a dog's teeth for more detailed information.
- Chewable snacks: these types of products help to remove bacterial plaque to prevent the onset of periodontal disease in dogs. In addition, they strengthen the periodontal ligament, which helps prevent tooth loss. They also generally help avoid any common dental diseases in dogs.
- Avoid playing with hard objects: such as stones, sticks, etc. that can cause lesions in the oral mucosa or cause the fracture or loss of teeth.
- Veterinary check-ups: periodic veterinary check-ups allow oral pathologies to be detected in the early stages and early treatment to be instituted. These work to help prevent complications such as tooth loss. In addition to regular check-ups, it is important to go to a veterinary center whenever signs such as halitosis (bad breath), anorexia (lack of appetite), bleeding gums, mobile or fractured teeth, etc. are detected.
- Dental cleaning: this procedure consists of removing tartar and plaque adhered to the surface of the teeth using ultrasound equipment. Although it is not necessary to carry out this type of cleaning routinely, some dogs with a greater tendency to tartar accumulation may need them annually.
Take a look at the causes of rotten teeth in dogs to know more about how to treat and prevent tooth loss in dogs.
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