I must have the grimiest collection of canine-saliva-coated tennis balls in the city. You see, I live near an elementary school and a park where errant tennis balls hide under every bush, nook and cranny. It goes without saying that my grungy trove of tennis balls grows almost every time I walk my mouthy terrier, DJ.
A dog foraging for old tennis balls...A pretty mundane slice of life, I must say, but it got me thinking. Whenever DJ finds one of those slimy rubber orbs, he keeps it in his mouth for the rest of our walk. He's like a kid who found a hockey card on the street and won't let go of it. So precious, so real.
But here's the part that whacked me over the head like a plank of wood. A dog's mouth is not just a mouth. It's more than just an eating apparatus. A canine muzzle-mouth is essentially a set of hands, an elephant's trunk, a monkey's tail. It's your dog's tactile appendage to the world.
All the more reason to care for his mouth as you would care for your own hands. A dog can live well enough without a leg or an eye, or even his mighty cajónes, but take away his mouth and you take away his life.
Conventional wisdom says that your dog's mouth needs to be kept clean and exercised to stay in tip-top shape. And without a doubt, the best way to maintain primo mouth-muzzle care is to feed raw, (even better if you feed it frozen). You want your dog to chew, to grind, to flush his mouth with water (raw food is over 70% water). To get maximum oral hygienic benefits though, you must feed your pet raw food in a format that gets his jaws working - like jumbo burgers (not flat cookie-cutter pseudo burgers), like meatballs or like chewy chunks...Y'know, the Mrs. Meadys' format.