Q: My 13-year-old dog has lost most of his teeth, and I’ve noticed that he’s starting to have difficulty eating. Are there any soft yet nutritious foods you can suggest for him?

A: Firstly, I strongly recommend having your vet examine his teeth. If your dog has lost most of his teeth by natural decay processes (rather than through removal by your veterinarian during a dental visit), then it is quite likely that his remaining teeth are also quite rotten, and thus painful. This would explain why he is having difficulty eating. These bad teeth need to be removed (under anaesthesia), and your vet is the only one who can advise you on this. Once done, you should see a huge improvement in your furkid’s ability to eat. 

One of the main causes of tooth decay in domestic dogs is poor diet—many over-consume processed foods, and are not fed enough soft raw bones, which are the equivalent of Mother Nature’s toothbrush for dogs and cats. That said, since your old boy has lost most his teeth, it is probably too late for him to begin chewing on bones. The best “soft food” diet is a good raw food diet. It can be in the form of a frozen raw diet (like K9 Natural or BARF), or you can use an easier freeze-dried or semi-raw diet (like Honest Kitchen). Unlike tinned, sachet, and dry foods that have to be cooked at very high temperatures, these diets retain 100 percent of their natural nutritional value, making it a much better option for your senior dog. They are also soft due to their high moisture content (either naturally or by rehydration). As an added boon, raw diets are low in carbohydrates and hence do not promote plaque and tartar formation in the same way that processed foods do. 

There are also many products on the market that’ll help with the maintenance of your dog’s oral hygiene: Fake bones (like Greenies), prescription kibble (like Hill’s T/D Diet), and water and food additives that help control plaque. If you choose additives, make sure to avoid any products that contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol. They have been proven to be toxic to dogs and cats.

Personally, I would use dentistry to correct any rotten or painful teeth, followed by a good quality raw diet, and an all-natural water additive called Healthy Mouth (which kills off plaque forming bacteria).