Okay, I know you get tired of hearing it. Every time you see the veterinarian she tells you that you should be brushing your pet’s teeth. But, seriously. Doesn’t the vet know that I find it difficult to follow my own dentist’s recommendations for MY teeth every day, let alone my pet’s teeth?
I get it. Truly I do.
I still have to tell you how to care for your pet’s teeth… because if I don’t tell you how to prevent dental disease, you’re going to be upset with me when you have a very expensive bill for tooth extractions later in your pet’s life. Not to mention the possibility of heart, liver, and kidney disease that is associated with severe dental disease.
So, humor me, just one more time. I’m going to try to make this easy!
The GOOD, BETTER, and BEST of pet dental health goes like this:
GOOD: Water additives and dental gels
These products are relatively new to the pet-product scene, and so there aren’t many that get the veterinary seal of approval. One water additive, Dog::Essential Healthymouth, is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) which is a group of leading board certified veterinary dentists from around the world.
It works just like you’d think it does – you add the liquid to your pet’s water daily, and it helps slow the accumulation of dental plaque. It helps a bit in pets with otherwise healthy mouths, but isn’t going to do much if your pet already has significant dental disease.
BETTER: Dental chews and treats
You’ve seen them in the pet store. It seems like every treat, toy, and food is screaming at you that it’s Great For Your Pet’s Teeth! Freshens breath! Eliminates Dental Tartar!
The marketing is fabulous. I would love to believe it, too!
Unfortunately, no treat or toy is going to magically make your pet’s dental disease disappear. Certain chews and treats, however, can minimize the build-up of dental plaque, thereby slowing the progression of dental disease.
Not all treats and chews are created equal. Look again for the VOHC seal of approval! I personally prefer Greenies and C.E.T. chews for this category. One per day is enough, and make sure to purchase the right size for your pet.
(By the way, be on the lookout for a future blog post about “dental health” products your dog shouldn’t chew on!)
BEST: Brush your pet’s teeth!
If you really want to earn a chocolate chip cookie from your veterinarian, brush your pet’s teeth a minimum of 3 times a week. No really. You’ll be my favorite client EVER.
Brushing your pet’s teeth (I like this kit) is the only surefire way to keep your pet from developing serious dental disease. Use a pet-specific toothpaste (they have fun flavors!), a soft-bristled toothbrush, and lots of positive reinforcement!
I’m sorry to say that once a month isn’t going to do the trick. The veterinary dental specialists have spoken, and they say that brushing every day is the gold standard.
But 3 times a week is acceptable.
Once a week or less? You might as well start saving for that dental cleaning next year. 🙂