Pet Age

Combating Smelly Dog Breath

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Dental disease was the most reported disease, affecting 78 percent of dogs over the age of three, according to the “State of Pet Health 2011,” published by Banfield Pet Hospital.

While professional cleanings are part of comprehensive veterinary care, many dog owners hesitate to get their dog a professional cleaning because it requires anesthesia, which can be both costly and risky. As a result, consumers look to retail stores for products that function to keep their dog’s teeth clean and breath fresh while helping them to prolong the time between professional cleanings.

“Customers are looking for dental products that are healthy, effective against tartar, bad breath and other dental disease, are cost effective and are easy to administer,” Stephanie Hale, administrative director of Downtown Animal Hospital, a clinic with a retail arm in Toronto, said.

Product trends in the dental segment include ease of use; choice of product type and veterinary approval. Of those, the trend that seems to appeal the most to consumers is how easy a product is to use.

Many options on the market are toothbrush and toothpaste combos, however, many owners are looking for dental care that doesn’t require brushing, which can sometimes be a strenuous activity for both the owner and the dog. TropiClean is a brand that attempts to address the need for easy, functional oral health care through its line of dental products.

“Home dental care for pets is adversarial at best and often times ends up leaving both human and pet exhausted and frustrated,” Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator at TropiClean, said. “Our products provide an easy solution through our Clean Teeth Gel or our daily Water Additive, both of which require no brushing. Our goal with Fresh Breath is to provide a natural solution that improves the health of dogs and cats and strengthens the relationship between companions.”

Make It Easy

Another option is a dental wipe. The consumer wraps the wipe around his or her finger then rubs it across the dog’s teeth and gums. True Blue developed a wipe with vets at Washington State University.

“We wanted something that was easier than brushing but still gave you some friction,” Doug Gleason, the company’s founder, said. “I think a lot of consumers have tried brushing once and found it so hard they give up and do nothing.”

Wipes are an easier alternative. Their Fast and Fresh Dental Swipes consist of pre-moistened pads with bumps on it and an all-natural cleaning solution. The company offers trial sizes for retailers to test out the product. Gleason said it’s the ideal solution for consumers who want to care for their dog’s teeth without the struggle that sometimes comes with brushing.

Earthbath also manufactures a dental wipe. Their Tooth & Gum Wipes are available in a 25-count container and are made in the U.S.A. The product contains no parabens, phosphates, pthalates, DEA, synthetic dyes or perfumes, making it safe for daily use.

Edible dental chews are another popular trend in this segment because they simplify dental care for pet owners. In many cases, a dental chew can be given to a dog just like a treat, which appeals to consumers. And, there certainly are a lot of choices to pick from if you decide to offer them in your store.

Zukes offers a line of products called Z-Bones that freshen breath and clean teeth. The product comes in a variety of flavors and can be purchased individually or by the carton. Each Z-Bone is made with a special texture for longer chew time and a ridged surface to help scrape and polish teeth. The grain-free treats are also made to be easily digestible.

Classic Products has an edible dental chew that contains milk, protein and rice, contains no plastic and will not splinter or stain. Three flavors are available: cheese, chicken and vegetable. A pack of 12 comes in a shelf tray for easy display.

Focused on solutions to common problems, Nylabone’s products are designed to accommodate different life stages, like puppy, and different sizes, like small versus large dogs. They also offer a vast line of dental solutions, some of which are edible and some of which are longer lasting toys and chews. In addition, for those looking for a multitasking product, Nylabone also offers one that curbs destructive chewing while cleaning teeth.

Crunched for Time

“Pet parents don’t have a lot of time and brushing your pet’s teeth is never an easy task,” Kimberly Cassar, senior marketing director at The Hartz Mountain Corporation, said. “I believe they are looking for a variety of effective solutions that are easy to use at home and fit their demanding schedules.

To meet those needs, Hartz offers products in three main categories: edibles, cleansers and tools.

“By offering a line of products, pet parents can choose either the single item that fits their needs or take a proactive approach and use the entire system to improve the overall oral health of their pet,” she said.
Products in their comprehensive dental line include Hartz Dentist’s Best Dental kit, which serves as a dental care starter kit; Dental Gel and Dental Spray, which don’t require any brushing; and the edible Dental Powder and Dental Treats.

For those consumers who are looking for a brushing option, QT Dog manufactures a pre-pasted toothbrush. DoggieDents are disposable, pre-pasted toothbrushes and are available to retailers in a counter display that holds 72 pieces or twelve four-packs on a clip strip. This product offers consumers the convenience of a toothbrush/toothpaste combo that is disposable so it does not harbor bacteria.

Finally, consumers are looking for products with a strong reputation, which is often determined by approval by the veterinary community.  Using a veterinary seal of approval helps to market and sell dental hygiene products.

In Hale’s retail shop, they recommend a lot of Virbac products.

“Virbac is a very reputable company that specializes in dental care for your pet,” Hale said.  “We find that the C.E.T. line of chews are very effective against fighting dental disease.”

A brand new product on the market is Zututh. It is designed to adapt to the unique arrangement of a dog’s teeth. It is made for dogs, not humans, and is designed to clean the areas that collect plaque the most. Also, it is longer than a human brush so more teeth are cleaned in one motion shortening the total brushing time.

Zututh dog toothbrushes are available in small, medium and large sizes.

The bottom line in dental care products is that customers are seeking function: They want a product that is not only easy to use but is proven effective. While cost is important, many pet owners would be willing to spend more on a product that will help prevent or prolong the time between professional cleanings.

- Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who covers pets, the pet industry and lifestyle topics. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three dogs.

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