What to Feed a Dog With Bad Teeth

I won't bite, but I can gum you.
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Whether your dog's teeth are in bad shape because of age or genetic problems, feeding the right food can make a difference. The mouths of full-grown dogs contain 42 teeth. In small breeds, mouths may simply be too little to accommodate all of them, resulting in dental problems.

Bad Teeth Signs

Signs of dental issues in dogs include loss of appetite caused by pain while chewing. Your dog's breath may stink or he may drool frequently. Discolored teeth, those with tartar deposits, loose or broken teeth and blood or pus in the mouth indicate the need for veterinary dental attention. If your dog suffers from a tooth abscess or his mouth swells, seek veterinary attention immediately. Your vet can recommend the right food for your dog's dental dilemma on a temporary and long-term basis.

Dry Dog Food

Your vet may sell or prescribe dog food specifically for animals with bad teeth. You also can feed your dog a high-quality dry dog food, or kibble, if he still has sufficient chewing power. Dry food doesn't stick to the teeth the way canned food does, so less plaque builds up over time.

Soft Food

While mushy food is not recommended for good dental hygiene, if your dog has no or only a few teeth left you don't have much choice. He'll basically gum rather than chew his food, and could choke on dry food if it is not chewed. Even commercial canned dog food may be too difficult for him to eat, so you may need to puree it in a blender or food processor for your best buddy.

Other Foods

Besides commercial dog foods, there are foods that he can eat easily which provide good nutrition. Scramble or boil some protein-filled eggs for him. Cooked green vegetables, including green beans, peas and broccoli, provide minerals. If your dog still has teeth, carrots help keep them clean. Plain yogurt's probiotic qualities help his digestion. Cooked turkey or chicken without skin and, of course, without bones, are good choices. Always check with your vet about your dog's dietary needs.


As an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, or dog food, feeding your dog properly from the beginning helps avoid dental problems later. Don't feed your dog only canned or soft food. Give him dry food to help clean the teeth, or special dog biscuits or chews for dental care. Ask your vet about giving raw beef bones, especially rib bones, to your dog. Do not give your dog cooked bones of any kind. Brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and stimulate the gums. Feed your dog dry food on a regular schedule. If he doesn't finish it within a few minutes, remove the bowl. Don't leave it out for him for free-choice feeding, as frequent eating encourages tartar build-up.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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