Brushing your pet’s teeth is highly recommended. Always purchase a toothbrush geared for the shape and size of your dog's mouth. For cats, a cone shaped special cat tooth brush or finger brush is ideal and can even be used by toy dog breeds. Don’t ever use human toothpaste on your dog since they foam up and dogs can’t spit. Dog toothpastes come in many flavors including chicken and beef. Look for enzymatic toothpastes at any pet store. Let your pet lick the toothpaste first. Offer it as a flavorful treat before you attempt brushing. If you just start brushing and the pet doesn't enjoy the experience, they are unlikely to ever like the toothpaste.
Maxi/Guard OraZn and Maxi/Guard Oral Cleansing gel are products that can be used on a toothbrush after your pet is used to the idea of tooth brushing. They only require a pea-size droplet to be rubbed once daily on the gums around the upper back molars on both sides. Both reduce gingivitis, plaque formation and neutralize offensive mouth odor within minutes. The Oral gel is very concentrated and is used best for severe oral health problems and chronic periodontal disease, whereas the OraZn is used for routine daily maintenance. Both are great at soothing gums just after a teeth cleaning or extractions.
While not a substitute for tooth brushing, dog dental bones contain chemicals that cling to the teeth and prevent plaque from converting to tartar. Nylabones resist damage even after hours of chewing. Look for bones that contain nubs and dental tips that massage gums and scrape plaque from the canine's teeth. Look for dental bones that are high in protein and contain chlorophyll and/or parsley to help freshen the breath. Always monitor your pet while he/she chews the dog dental products. Studies by licensed veterinarians find that rawhide chews are more effective for removing tartar than dog biscuits. But rawhide should be discarded after about a week, as it's a breeding ground for bacteria.
When selecting tartar control products for your dog, keep the following in mind:
- The texture of crunchy treats is better suited to tartar removal than the texture of chewy treats.
- Tartar-control treats and chews should be long-lasting to remove the greatest amount of tartar while the dog consumes them.
- Tartar-control foods, such as Hills Prescription Diet t/d are available from your local veterinarian. Also known as the "edible tooth brush” this food is a special fiber blend which scrubs the exposed tooth surface preventing tartar and plaque build up which can lead to dental disease and “doggy and kitty breath.
The VOHC or Veterinary Oral Health Council awards its Seal of Acceptance to oral health products that meet pre-set standards for retarding accumulation of dental plaque.
One of the main functions of the VOHC is to evaluate pet products and their ability to maintain good dental health in dogs and cats. The organization follows strict requirements in awarding its seal of acceptance for a product's claims of controlling tartar or plaque. Look for the VOHC seal on diets, chew treats and water supplements when you shop for tartar control products for your dog. For a list of products recommended by the VOHC, check out their website at http://vohc.org/accepted_products.htm