'Bone A Day' Dental Trial

Dental (teeth) health and periodontal (gum) disease in cats and dogs is an issue that receives a lot of attention in veterinary medicine – and for good reason. The mouth is the first part of the cat and dog’s digestive system, and if the teeth and gums aren’t healthy then it can mean big problems for the rest of the body. When bacteria accumulates on the teeth, it forms a visible, sticky layer known as plaque. Plaque can be easy to scrape off the teeth, but when left alone it forms harder, darker layers on the teeth – this is what we refer to as tartar or calculus. Too much solidified tartar on a tooth can be extremely difficult to get rid of even with veterinary intervention.

Bacteria on the teeth can cause gum inflammation (swelling and redness). This is an early stage of periodontitis, a disease that affects the structures that support the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral tissue damage, gum recession and tooth loss. Bacteria and bacterial toxins may even enter the bloodstream at the gumline and cause further damage to internal organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart.

Tooth and gum disease isn’t always easy for pet owners to notice until it is quite progressed. Animals – especially cats – are good at hiding it if they are in pain, and often don’t show any discomfort until they are too sore to eat properly. At this point a veterinary visit is usually required, which tends to require heavy-duty cleaning of the teeth under anaesthetic and often involves multiple tooth extractions.

Jimbo’s has always believed in the natural magic of raw food when it comes to helping our pets live longer, healthier, happier lives, and dental health is no exception to this philosophy. We wanted to prove to you that you can help prevent tooth and gum disease while maintaining dental health in your pets easily at home, so we set up a Dental Trial with the help of some furry volunteers. These four-legged participants opted to go on to a purely raw food diet and eat a bone a day to see if this made any difference to their dental health. Over the course of three months we regularly checked their teeth and gums to see if there was any change in their dental health, and we are excited to share our positive results with you.

If you would like to get a copy of the 'Bone A Day' Dental Trial as below, you can download a pdf version here.



What did the Jimbo’s Dental Trial involve?

The Team at Jimbo’s began the Dental Trial by calling for volunteers in a newsletter earlier in the year. We found eight dogs that fit our criteria and were excited to trial a raw food diet. These dogs were of mixed breeds, ages and sexes (you can see their photos at the top of this report), and had varied meal plans which all included an amount of dry food and/or supermarket dog roll. Their owners signed them up to our feeding programme for the next few months.



Our criteria for finding dogs were as follows:

  • Dog participant (and owner!) had to be willing to travel to Jimbo’s Headquarters roughly once a fortnight for several months,
  • Dog had to be comfortable having his/her mouth handled, and needed to be able to remain still for dental photographs,
  • Dog’s diet could not currently contain regular bones,
  • Dog’s owner had to be happy to feed only a structured raw food diet designed by the Jimbo’s Team for three-four months.

The first step after recruiting our Dental Trial stars was to transition each dog onto its new diet – this means we slowly introduced Jimbo’s into each dog’s current diet so that their tummies did not get upset by any sudden changes. Any time you make a big change in your pet’s diet we recommend allowing a bit of a transition time. Meat in comparison to dry food, for example, requires different bacteria and enzymes for digestion. Taking several days to change the food over completely gives the stomach time to acclimatise to what it needs to do. We allowed a maximum of 14 days to completely transition the Jimbo’s Dental Trial dogs onto their raw food diets.

The Jimbo’s Team designed a 100% raw food diet that worked to a recommended ratio of 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal.



Below is the general feeding plan that each dog followed:

  • 50% Jimbo’s Beef,
  • 50% meat/offal/bone all-in-one product (either Jimbo’s Chicken Sausages OR our Power Patties),
  • A size-appropriate bone a day (either Jimbo’s Veal Bones OR our Chicken Necks).

Once each dog was fully transitioned onto this diet the trial ran for another three months.



Photos of each dog’s teeth and gums were taken at the initial visit (before the raw food diet was implemented), roughly once a fortnight after this, and at the final consultation three months after the 100% raw diet had started. Each dog’s mouth received a visually-identified ‘dental grading’ from 0-4 depending on the amount of plaque/tartar apparent on the teeth, swelling and redness of the gums and inflammation of the gumline. Our dental grading system was structured as follows:

  • Grade 0: None or a very small amount of tartar, no gum inflammation, no gum recession.
  • Grade 1: Mild tartar, none or a very small amount of gum inflammation, no gum recession.
  • Grade 2: Moderate tartar, some gum inflammation, no gum recession.
  • Grade 3: Moderate tartar, obvious gum inflammation and some gum recession.
  • Grade 4: Severe tartar and calculus, severe gum inflammation and recession.

NOTE: By our grading system if a cat or dog’s teeth is classed as Grade 3 or higher this means moderate-severe periodontal disease is evident. Damage to gum tissue by this point is irreversible, but dental hygiene could be managed through appropriate treatment. Veterinary intervention is usually required to remove the stubborn tartar on the teeth, and – especially in the case of Grade 4 teeth – dental extractions are often required to remove the source of infection.



At the initial consultation with the Jimbo’s Team, our eight trial dog participants showed the following dental grades:

  • Grade 0 = 2 dogs
  • Grade 1 = 4 dogs
  • Grade 2 = 2 dogs

For the dogs with Grade 0 teeth, we wanted to prove that our raw food diet could maintain their great standard of dental health.

For dogs with Grade 1-2 teeth we wanted to show that our raw food diet could improve their dental health.



So tell us, Jimbo’s! What did you find?

Our final results were exciting! We found that 100% of the dogs maintained or improved their dental hygiene scores.



The final dental scores at the end of the trial were as follows:

  • Grade 0 = 4
  • Grade 1 = 3
  • Grade 2 = 0

Both dogs that began the trial with Grade 0 teeth maintained this excellent standard of dental health. Two dogs that were originally scored with Grade 1 teeth finished the trial with Grade 0 teeth. One dog with Grade 2 teeth finished the trial with Grade 1 teeth.

Unfortunately the results of one (Grade 2) dog had to be removed from our findings because it transpired that the dog had not been fed the provided bones for the duration of the trial. This dog’s teeth had not improved by the end of the trial.



The Jimbo’s Dental Trial was carried out because we wanted to prove what we already knew – that a species-appropriate diet including a bone a day can improve or maintain dental health in our furry friends. In this trial we used dogs that had various standards of dental health, which ate various diets (all including a form of dry kibble and/or supermarket dog roll). After transitioning each dog onto a 100% raw diet with a size-appropriate bone a day we found that within two weeks the incidence of plaque and tartar on the teeth began to reduce. By the end of three months we found that much of the tartar originally identified on various dogs’ teeth before the start of the trial had been completely removed. All of the dogs who finished the trial showed either improved dental hygiene, or maintained dental hygiene.

These findings are important to us because we are big believers in the ways that raw food can help our pets live longer, healthier, happier lives. When cats and dogs chew size-appropriate, raw bones, the mechanical action of doing so helps to scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth. By removing or reducing bacteria present on the teeth, periodontal disease can be prevented and a high standard of dental health maintained – and feeding bones is a great way to do this naturally. We recommend chicken necks for dogs under about 6kgs and all cats, and Jimbo’s Veal Bones for dogs over about 6kg. For this trial we fed all the dogs on a 100% raw diet, but would suggest that even if your pet is not on a completely raw diet feeding a bone a day or every second day would be a great place to start for better dental health.


For any questions or queries about this Dental Trial or to get in touch with one of the Jimbo’s Team, give us a call on 0800 PET FOOD or email us at jimbo@jimbos.co.nz