All About Pet Dental Chews and Treats

pet dental needsMost of us love to give our pets treats on a regular basis. Who can resist those puppy dog eyes, not to mention our sweet cat purring in anticipation of a tasty treat? And, if giving them a dental treat is good for their teeth, even better. After all, it’s something they love and it’s healthy for them, right?

Well, it’s complicated. Many pet dental chews and treats are marketed to improve pets’ oral health, reduce plaque and tartar, and even take the place of regular cleanings and toothbrushings. But, good dental hygiene is more than just keeping your pet’s teeth shiny and white. Effective pet dental care preserves the quality of the teeth and gums and prevents periodontal disease, giving your pet a healthier and longer life.

The team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates decided to break down dental chews and treats, to find out if they are too good to be true.

How Does Dental Disease Occur?

Like us, pets need regular dental care to prevent dental disease. Periodontal disease occurs when a combination of food, saliva, and bacteria leads to plaque formation. Left unchecked, plaque buildup and tartar migrate to the gum line, causing gingivitis. This can result in bad breath, infection, pain, eventual tooth loss, and can even affect organ function.

How Do Pet Dental Chews Work?

It’s vitally important that our pet’s have regular dental care, and dental chews, diets, and treats can help reduce the bacteria that causes plaque and tartar. Pet dental chews and treats work in a variety of ways. Some use the pet’s own chewing action to remove plaque and tartar. Some are oddly shaped and use abrasive action to work, while still others contain plaque fighting enzymes to reduce plaque and tartar.

Now, the nitty gritty. Not all dental chews and treats are created equal, and some can even harm your pet. Thankfully, there is an organization, the Veterinary Oral Health Council, that serves to certify the efficacy of home dental products. Choose a pet dental chew or treat from their list of approved products to ensure that you’re getting a product that has some benefit.

A word of caution: some products advertised as good for pet dental health can be dangerous if swallowed instead of chewed. Watch your pet when you give any chew, treat, or toy, to make sure they are not swallowing large chunks that could cause choking or gastrointestinal obstruction, and possibly result in surgery.

No Substitute

Because bacteria and plaque reside below the gum line, a professional dental cleaning is still the best way to prevent periodontal disease. Once your pet has a cleaning, daily toothbrushing at home is far and away more effective than any dental treat or diet.

In reality, most of us have a hard time brushing our pet’s teeth everyday, so do the best you can. Contact us if you’d like tips on how to brush your pet’s teeth. It’s really not as hard as you think!

If you wish to use pet dental chews, treats, or a specific diet as an addition to your dental care routine, by all means, do so. Call us for recommendations, or visit the VOHC website. We’re looking forward to helping you tailor an at-home dental care program that works!