If you pursue the aisles of your local pet supply store, the number of dental care products available for pets is simply staggering. Dental diets, chews, rinses, and treats abound. With most pets having some degree of dental disease before 3 years of age, the need is there. But do they really work?
Understanding and choosing pet dental treats can be a difficult task to undertake. Thankfully, your friends at Godspeed Animal Care are here to help you.
Understanding Dental Disease
Dogs and cats commonly suffer from dental disease. Just as in people, dental disease, or periodontal disease, in pets can have serious and significant consequences.
Dental disease happens when plaque accumulates on the surface of the teeth. This sticky substance provides a home for bacteria that then irritate the surrounding gingival tissues. Untreated, these bacteria can also begin to destroy the periodontal ligament that hold the teeth in place and even infect the bone.
Plaque can also become mineralized over time, forming hard tartar that can further cause plaque to accumulate, leading to progression of dental disease.
If dental disease in pets is not treated, it can lead to:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bleeding or irritated gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Loss of appetite
- Infection in the bloodstream that may result in damage to internal organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver
Dental disease can have a significant impact on the health and longevity of our furry friends. This is why good oral hygiene is important in the care of our pet patients, young and old alike.
The Facts About Pet Dental Treats
Regular dental exams and cleanings under anesthesia remain the cornerstone of veterinary oral health care. After all, you wouldn’t expect to chew a stick of gum every day and never need to visit the dentist!
Home dental care is a big part of supporting your pet’s oral health, and pet dental treats can play a role in this. Toothbrushing is a great way to decrease plaque accumulation, but it can be hard for pet owners to brush all their pet’s teeth on a consistent basis.
When choosing pet dental treats to include in your pet’s oral care routine, remember the following:
Not all treats are created equal – Anyone can put a claim on their product that their treat supports dental health, but this doesn’t make it true. Look for products that have been endorsed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), an organization that independently tests dental products for efficacy.
Treats are still treats – Try to remember that just because a treat has a benefit, it is still a treat. Dental chews and the like contain calories (sometimes a lot!). Make sure to account for those calories in your pet’s diet plan.
Choose the right size – Be sure to select the correct size if the product has more than one option. Feeding a Chihuahua-sized dental chew to your Labrador Retriever is unlikely to yield the same results, and could even be dangerous.
Stay safe – Anything your pet chews on can help scrub away plaque, but it doesn’t make it a safe choice. Beware of products or items that splinter or break, as this can lead to injury or gastrointestinal obstruction. Also, avoid very hard items, such as deer antlers and marrow bones, as these items are known to lead to the fracturing of teeth.
Selecting a good pet dental treat can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t forget to call us if you need recommendations. We are happy to help you develop a home dental care program that works for you and your pet, and pet dental treats can play a role.