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Dental Home Care Products for Pets

Top Five Dental Home Care Products

                This week marks the end of February which is traditionally dental health month for pets.  While there is often no substitution for a professional dental cleaning, taking care of your pet’s teeth at home all year long is an important part of keeping pets healthy, too.  Maybe your pet does not yet have much plaque or tartar or has already had his or her teeth cleaned and you want to maintain that pearly smile.  What are the best products for banishing doggie breath and keeping those kitty kisses sweet?  We discuss five options below, but, regardless of what product or products you choose, look for the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal which, like the American Dental Association reviews and recommends dental products for pets.

  1.  Brushing is best.  Just like brushing our own teeth every day removes the sticky, bacteria-trapping plaque that accumulates on teeth, brushing your dog or cat’s teeth does the same.  While brushing daily is ideal, scrubbing pet’s teeth 3-4 days a week is still beneficial.  Anything less than that is not going to do the job.  Choose a pet toothbrush or soft bristle brush and always make sure to use toothpaste without fluoride.  Pets don’t know to rinse and spit!  Pet toothpastes with flavors such as peanut butter or poultry make the paste more appealing for our furry friends. 
  2. Dental chews are another good option, though they should be used with caution and supervision, especially for those who are gulpers.  Primarily for dogs, there are various types of chewable treats such as rawhide coated in chlorhexidine (a dental antiseptic), pressed products that mechanically remove plaque and tartar as the dog chews such as Greenies or CET Veggie-Dent and others.  It is also important to choose the correct size based on your dog’s weight to ensure it cleans the teeth and is not consumed too quickly.
  3. Dental rinses, gels or wipes are fairly easy to use and can be effective in removing plaque and bacteria to some degree.  These products are squirted directly into the mouth or wiped/rubbed on the teeth using a finger or applicator. 
  4. Dental diets and treats can be helpful for pets who do not allow you to touch or open their mouths and who do not have any dietary restrictions.  Hill’s Science Diet makes a veterinary dental diet with large kibbles that break apart and clean teeth.  Multiple types of biscuit-like dental treats are also available for dogs and cats, though some pets do not chew these treats enough to be of benefit (for example, Greenies cat treats are somewhat small).  Again, expect efficacy to vary and use with caution if your pet tends to gulp food. 
  5. Dental water additives are the easiest to use.  They are somewhat less effective at removing plaque and tartar, but they act like a mouthwash banishing bacteria which is the cause of harmful periodontal disease and they can help freshen breath.  Most cats and dogs do not object to having these products added to their drinking water and there are few restrictions to their use. 

We do not recommend extremely hard dental products like bones, antlers, hooves, Nyla bones or similar products as pets may actually break their teeth causing more harm than good.  Regardless of the products you use, make sure your pet is having routine veterinary visits to assess his teeth.  Your vet can spot problems such as fractures, infection, gingivitis and other problems, and recommend dental cleanings when necessary.  We also carry numerous dental home care products at Patton Veterinary Hospital for dogs and cats.  Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy positively affects the health of the whole body.

                This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.