Specialized preventive foods

Specialized preventive foods and other means of reducing dental plaque and tartar.

While they can never replace proper daily brushing, specialty foods sold at your veterinary clinic can also be effective in reducing plaque formation and tartar build-up. In fact, they are what veterinarians recommend as a staple diet for healthy adult dogs and cats. Ideally, owners should combine regular brushing with a dental diet.

In order to control plaque, tartar and periodontal disease to a significant degree and to clean the teeth properly, these specialized foods are designed to have a mechanical action or an abrasive effect on the teeth when your pet chews the kibble. To that end, the kibbles are made of a network of oriented fibers which temporarily trap the teeth, thus producing an abrasive effect.

For these mechanically acting diets to have the desired effect, your pet must obviously chew the food well. As we know, this is not always the case, as some cats and dogs gulp their food down without bothering to chew it. This is why some manufacturers produce specialized foods containing agents such as polyphosphates (sodium hexametaphosphate or sodium tripolyphosphate) that impede the formation of plaque and tartar through a chemical rather than a mechanical action on the tooth surfaces.

Lastly, some specialized diets are formulated to provide a two-in-one action, both mechanical and chemical. Ask your veterinary team to recommend the diet that best suits your pet’s needs.

Other plaque and tartar fighting products

As already stated, nothing can replace tooth brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal disease, but the addition of a specialized diet is beneficial. The other products described below must be used only as an adjunct to good oral hygiene. On their own, they cannot prevent dental health problems. Your veterinary team can advise you on the best options for your pet.

  • Dental wipes are easy to use and work by rubbing the surface of the teeth, providing both mechanical and nonmechanical (chemical) action. Wipes are infused with plaque control agents such as chlorhexidine or C.E.T.
  • Oral cleansing gels are antiseptic and are applied to the gums. Some antiseptic products can be added to your pet’s drinking water.
  • Toothpastes contain agents such as C.E.T. or calcium peroxide and act in conjunction with the mechanical action of brushing.
  • Chew strips and chew treats work through friction to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces. These edible products can also provide chemical action if they contain agents such as delmophinol or chlorhexidine.

Products bearing the VOHC seal are a safe bet

As we have seen, there is a wide range of dental care products for our pets, all supposedly designed to reduce plaque and/or tartar. Do they all perform equally well? Actually, they don’t.

Since the industry is unregulated, the claims made on product packaging are not always accurate or proven. A label may state that a certain treat is effective in controlling tartar, but it may not reveal that your pet would have to eat 30 or 40 pieces daily to get any results at all. Far too many calories and far too little effect!

How can you figure out what is true and whom to believe? The best way to know whether a product is effective is to check that it bears the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval. The VOHC is a voluntary group of veterinarians specializing in dentistry that helps pet owners and veterinarians make appropriate choices among all the plaque and tartar fighting products on the market.

The VOHC seal of approval is awarded to products that reduce plaque and/or tartar by at least 20%, based on scientific data obtained through rigorous tests and protocols that the VOHC requires manufacturers to undergo. The list of products with the VOHC seal as well as details of the research protocols that manufacturers must comply with can be found at www.vohc.org.

Regardless of the product used, pet owners must be aware that tartar will nevertheless form on their pet’s teeth, above and/or below the gum line. However, it will accumulate much more slowly provided the teeth are given good daily care, using all the tools at their disposal.

In summary, the best way to prevent periodontal disease is to reduce plaque build-up by feeding your pet an appropriate diet, brushing its teeth daily and having your veterinarian perform regular dental prophylaxis (scaling, root planing and polishing).

Learn more about preventive dental care : https://passionimo.ca/en/our-tips/dental-health-dogs/preventive-dental-care/

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.

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