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Dental Hygiene Pays Dividends

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Keeping a pet’s teeth clean can go a long way towards reducing veterinary bills.

Yet, few practice good dental hygiene for their pets. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. 

“Nearly 78 percent of dogs and 68 percent of cats over the age of 3 are diagnosed with some form of dental disease during their annual veterinary examination,” Dr. Ava Frick, DVM, CAC at Pet Rehab & Pain Clinic, said.

The good news is that these diseases are very preventable by simply practicing good oral hygiene. The better news is that the pet industry is making it very easy to do this.  From “doggy dental floss” to multi-purpose chew toys, dental health is a topic that all stores should explore with their customers.

Toys Designed for Teeth

Dental care can be fun for both pets and their owners, and it can be as simple as selecting the proper toys. Most dental toys serve the dual purpose of keeping pets entertained while massaging gums and cleaning teeth. The NutriDent line of products is just one example of dog dental care toys that, according to Nylabone, are clinically proven to be better than brushing.

Gumi dental toys, which are part of the Rolf C. Hagen DogIt line of products, perform several important dental functions. Each toy features special scrubbers to remove food and saliva, soft waves to massage and stimulate blood flow to the gum line, while providing a soft texture to encourage continuous play and to exercise jaw muscles.

Chew toys aren’t just for dogs these days.

PetStages also offers a line of toys designed for a cat’s dental needs.  These toys are created with unique netting that helps remove soft tarter, and will not unravel when chewed. Some toys even contain fibrous stalks of catnip to satisfy a cat’s natural desire to chew.

Bones and Chews

Perhaps the easiest way to endear your pet to teeth cleaning is through treats.

“A majority of dogs over the age of two have some form of dental disease which can cause discomfort and many other types of illness, but it often goes overlooked,” Chris Meiering, director of marketing for Zuke’s, said.

Zuke’s new line of Z-Bones offer a potato-based, grain-free chew that helps maintain dental hygiene by scraping and polishing pets’ teeth.

PetSafe’s new line of indigo Fresh Dental Chicken & Blueberry flavor treats are an easy alternative to the stress of brushing. These all natural, made in the USA chews are formulated on the biometrics of how dogs chew to promote cleaner teeth and fresher breath. Hexametaphosphate safely removes plaque and is proven to reduce tartar up to 80 percent, experts said.

“HMP binds with calcium in plaque allowing it to be carried away in the dog’s saliva, preventing the formation of calculus (tartar),” said Sarah Folmer, brand communications specialists for PetSafe, whose complete oral care line has been expanded to include indigo Fresh Gel, Biscuits and Sticks.

Rinses and Washes

Rinses and washes that can be used as a water additive are popular with both dog and cat owners. Using a proprietary blend of natural, holistic ingredients, Tropiclean Water Additive works fast to naturally reduce plaque and tartar without a toothbrush, an added bonus for cat owners who prefer to keep their hands away from sharp teeth.

PetzLife Oral Care Spray and Gel works naturally to help remove plaque and tartar on dogs and cats teeth, which also helps to control bacteria and bad breath. A proprietary blend of grapefruit seed extract and other natural ingredients, produce a safe and effective oral care maintenance program, especially for senior pets.

New to the market is Ark Natural’s BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste and Fizzy Plaque Zapper.

Brushless Toothpaste chews are filled with the company’s patented StayC50 toothpaste. The chews also contain breath-freshening ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla, clove and chlorophyll. The Plaque-Zapper contains enzymes that are activated by mouth saliva, which changes the pH level and deters the growth of oral bacteria.

“Pet owners simply empty a packet of Plaque-Zapper into a pet’s drinking water to help prevent dental decay, plaque, tartar and bad breath,” Susan Weiss, CEO of Ark Naturals, said. “It is odorless, tasteless and colorless and will not change a pet’s drinking or eating habits.”

Tooth and Gum Wipes

The step before brushing is wiping. Tooth and gum wipes, such as Earthbath’s Tooth & Gum Wipes, are pre-moistened towelettes that provide pet owners with a simple way to clean teeth and gums.

“Unfortunately many well-meaning pet owners overlook the importance of a regular program of dental hygiene for their pets,” Paul Armstrong, president of Earthbath, said. “People think that regular cleaning is a difficult process, but our new wipes simplify the job and provide an easy solution to keeping their pet’s teeth and gums healthy.”

Kissable doggie dental products, launched in 2006, use ingredients such as peppermint, aloe and pomegranate extract to help clean pets teeth.

While there is a ton of emphasis on the dental health of dogs and cats, natural dental care is also important for other animals like hamsters and rabbits.

Peter’s Chew Toy, by Marshall Pet Products combines two great treats in one, apple and wood. Plus, it contains all natural ingredients and has no dyes or preservatives. They also offer Peter’s Pine Cones, which are ideal for rabbits and other small animals to satisfy their chewing instincts. They, too contain no dyes, and are pesticide free.

- Stacy Mantle

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