6 In Dog

Attack of the Sugar

When I was in high school there was a girl who lived next door that was in 1st grade. I thought she had a pretty smile until I saw her cavity infested teeth up close. That was the first time I was glad that my mom had confiscated all my Halloween candy when I was a kid. Candy was a rare treat in our household and it probably saved me from a lot of teeth trouble.

I have tried to make sure to brush Kip’s teeth once or twice a week but it’s always a battle. He gags whenever I try to brush his molars and thrashes his head around this way and that. Then I discovered plaque and a little nook in the fold of his molars that I thought looked like a cavity and completely freaked out. It’s probably not a cavity, and I really hope it’s not a cavity, and the last time Kip was checked the Doctor didn’t say a word about Kip having any cavities…. but the war against plaque and cavities has officially begun.

I am determined to brush Kip’s teeth every night. To begin with, I can’t afford to let Kip have a cavity. Then there’s the scary stories on the forums where vet/dentists have to put dogs under drugs to scrape their teeth. I was fretting and wondering how on earth Kip could possibly have teeth problems when he wasn’t even eating candy! Calmly, Preston told me it was probably all that peanut butter I was giving him. Peanut Butter…?


You mean to tell me there is sugar in peanut butter?  Apparently, graduating from college doesn’t necessarily make you smart.  Here I am, well into my 20s and I didn’t even know there was sugar in peanut butter. For the past month I have been digging through forums and finding resources on dog nutrition and food while the peanut butter jar was dancing under my nose.


I ran to the peanut butter jar and turned to the ingredients. Peanuts of course. cane juice..is this sugar cane? natural oil blend, salt, molasses. My jaw dropped.  It can’t be! Whatever will I stuff Kip’s Kong with now? Peanut butter is what keeps Kip entertained while I’m at work. I felt betrayed. I’ve been betrayed by peanut butter.  It’s like I’ve been giving a spoon full of candy to Kip every other day. No wonder Kip loved peanut butter.

From this shock I have been checking the ingredients list for his treats as well. I found cane molasses in his Wellness “Wellbites” Chicken & Lamb flavor treat. Surprise surprise there was blackstrap molasses in the ‘Missing Link’ Omega-3 supplement. Except his kibble, everything seems to have molasses mixed in.

While sugar isn’t the only reason for bad teeth, there’s a reason why dentists don’t hand out candy in their office. I want to avoid sugar in Kip’s diet as much as possible. I’m not going to throw out all of Kip’s Wellness treats, but once I’m done I’m going to switch to the Wellness Pure Rewards treat line. According to the ingredients on their website, both the Wellbars and Wellbites have molasses in them. Their Pure Rewards are jerky bits that don’t have molasses in them.  The Ziwi Peak (New Zealand brand) Premium Meat and Mussel treats also don’t have molasses in them.



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  • 47

    Dogs don’t get cavities.

    Dental caries or ‘cavities’ are mostly a human thing. Dogs do suffer from dental diseases such as gingivitis, and instead of cavities they get a build up called calculus. It starts with a thin yellow staining, and then grows into this monstrously thick brown stuff. Its red gums and that thick brown stuff you need to worry about, not cavities!

    Speaking as another paranoid dog mom, here are some things you can do to help though:

    1. Keep brushing, and specifically get those back molars. I know he doesn’t like it, but he’ll get used to it. I cue my dog with the phrase “Pop the hatch!” When I want those back teeth, and he opens his mouth wide. (Otherwise I pry his mouth open, and he’d rather do it himself.) Hold his beard hair while you’re working if you need more control.

    2. Get the oral water additive.

    I originally got it for horrible puppy breath, and now I love it because its added insurance for those back teeth that are so hard to get.

    3. Find things your dog will chew on.

    Every time your dog scrapes his teeth and massages his gums, it helps get his teeth cleaner. I wouldn’t use greenies…google the warnings on those before feeding them.

    4. Use your finger nails.

    If you see a suspicious looking yellow spot, scratch it with your finger nails. A lot of times it’ll come off when its a small little yellow stain. You can’t do that so easily with the big tough brown ones!

    5. Finger brushes frequently work better than toothbrushes for stubborn dogs. I don’t know why.

    As for the peanut butter, ask around for “Adams 100% natural penaut butter”

    Ingredients: Peanuts. (Contains 1% or less of salt.)

    Hope that helps. Sorry to write a post in your comments section!

    • Kim

      I stopped using Greenies when I found out about those warnings in the Amazon ratings people left. I got him an antler chew but I read (I believe it was in the whole dog journal) that they can be too hard for your dog’s teeth and cause chipping on the molar tips. Kip didn’t seem really interested in the antler chew anyway. I know for certain that he likes bully sticks but they tend to be pricy so it’s not something I can buy for him regularly. I’ve been trying the ark naturals Breathless Plaque Zapper in his water and it’s certainly helped with his bad breath. It sais for therapeutic use I’m supposed to give it to him twice a day for at least 4 weeks. I don’t think that Kip has too much plaque so I’ve just been giving it to him a few times a week.

      I did see that peanut butter with only peanuts at the groceries but I want to take this opportunity to look for other options to stuff Kip’s kong with. I might try yogurt although I’d probably have to freeze it. I’m glad to hear that dog’s arn’t prone to cavities but I guess I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for the yellow/brown stuff you mentioned. I think I’m seeing a little bit of yellow on some of his teeth so I’m going to up the Plaque Zappers and brush his teeth daily.

      Out of curiousity, what oral water additive do you use?

      • 47

        I use tropiclean’s fresh breath. I’m not set on it though. It’s the first one I’ve tried. I keep using it because it seems to work

  • 47

    er…the typo on peanut butter was unintentional. It’s supposed to be Adams 100% Natural PEANUT butter…

  • i dont think dogs get cavities do they?? well i try to brush my two’s everyday and that hasn’t stopped them from developing a little plaque in the way back teeth. it’s the reason i got a special toothbrush that wraps around the molars. after they’re done with the teeth brushing i give them a dental treat or a bully stick. they both help at scrape at what i can’t get. also about ghe peanut butter, i have known about the sugar addition for a while now. before i got the dogs, i was already feeding my daughter sandwiches made from organic natural no sugar added peanut butter. she actually has preferred it since she tells me it tastes like eating peanuts. basically thats’s all it is, is a peanut paste. it has to be kept in the fridge once opening and you have stir everytime you use since sometimes the peanut oil seperates from the peanut butter. there are many brands out there, but the one we most commonly use is the one i thinks its mostly widely available. the brand is maranatha. i think i spelled it correctly, hopefully? since i give it to my daughter it was only natural that i would give it to yuki and rocket as well. oh, also i have read molasses is actually good for dogs because it has vitamins and minerals in it and dogs can process it better than refined sugar. i think it’s fine if used sparingly. i wouldn’t stress out so much, you’re doing the best you can and when you find out that you may be doing something wrong, you just learn from it. i used a dental spray made for dogs and never once thought to look at the inngredients, since it was formulated for dogs. after months of using it i looked and realized it contained xylitol which is very toxic to dogs. at first i was shocked about how irresponisible this company was. i allowed myself to feel gulity about it for a split second, and just threw it out. i took ot as a learning experience and now i will read the back of anything i fees yuki and rocket.

    • Kim

      Kip has plaque on the teeth in the way back too. I have the toothbrush with three sides but he gags and uses both paws to push my arm away. I’m glad to hear that dog’s don’t get cavities. I was panicking for a moment there! I decided to not worry too much about the molasses in his supplement and treats for now, but this has given me a new habit of checking the ingredients of everything I pick up at the store!