Is Dry Food Best For Pet's Teeth?

Pet Care & Safety
dry kibble in a measuring scoop

When it comes to feeding your pets, there are lots of moving parts and the variables involved are plenty. But what's ultimately best when it comes to pet’s teeth?

What is Dry Kibble Good For?

There are many claims that kibble is better for dental health because the chewy friction created by kibbled diets usually means less plaque. And studies do typically support the positive effect of chewed foods on dental health.

But to what extent does the shape, size, and texture of dry food really matter when it comes to plaque reduction? Does that hold true for all dogs? And, if so, are all dry diets created equal?

Turns out that some crunchy foods do almost nothing for dental health while others have passed rigorous standards showing that they do reduce plaque. To prove this, enter the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), an organization charged with determining whether dental claims on veterinary products are true or not.

The Bottom Line: Veterinary dentists say that even the most effective foods, plaque-fighting-wise, are less than five percent as effective as simply brushing your pet's teeth.

Scrutinizing the Details of Dry Food and Dental Health

Consider your pet’s chewing behavior: is every piece of kibble being chewed, or are they simply swallowed? If your pet is a non-chewer like mine, there's no way that even foods deemed highly effective for preventing tartar formation will do a thing for your gulper's teeth.

Luckily, all these issues are under serious scrutiny by pet food companies around the world. Which makes sense seeing as dental disease is a big issue in pets and their longevity has been positively correlated with oral health. It also explains why pet food companies feel a strong sense of responsibility for ensuring that dental health is optimized via pet food formulas.

So, is Dry Kibble Best?

Even with all that research, the question remains: To what extent is the average kibble diet better than canned or home-cooked diets when it comes to overall oral health? Or even raw food, for that matter?

Maybe marginally for some dogs. But research shows that cats are better off eating moistened diets due to their unique metabolic needs. The dental allure of dry diets for cats could be doing more harm than good.

Long-term studies on oral health need to be undertaken before we'll ever know the answer to this question. As it stands, kibble offers only a modestly compelling reason to recommend it, teeth-wise. However, brushing your pet’s teeth is always effective and highly encouraged.