There is no question that the designation of February as Pet Dental Month has, over the years, helped shine the spotlight on the benefits of maintaining a healthy canine mouth. As a result, the dental health category has expanded exponentially, making it a very competitive space with lots of new products vying for shelf placement.
Paula Burdick, owner of the Little Shop of Pets in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, said it was very encouraging to see dog owners taking care of their pets’ dental issues.
“They are definitely taking dental hygiene seriously,” she said. “I have not iced in particular that owners of small dog breeds are more aware. We offer a large selection of products. Many owners know exactly what they want, but we are more than happy to offer advice and suggestions. There’s lots of products to navigate through these days.”
Merrick Pet Care recently introduced Merrick Fresh Kisses, an innovative natural dental treat designed to not only clean dogs’ teeth, but also freshen breath.
“The new dental treats feature a double-brush design to clean teeth by removing plaque and tartar during the chewing action of the treat,” explained Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations. “The treats, which are both grain-free and potato-free, are made with natural ingredients specially formulated to freshen breath and available in two new recipes. Merrick Fresh Kisses Infused with Mint-Flavored Breath Strips have natural mint breath strip pieces infused throughout the treat to freshen breath. And the Merrick Fresh Kisses, infused with coconut and botanical oils, is designed to clean teeth and naturally freshen breath with natural ingredients such as coconut oil plus a combination of three botanical oils: peppermint oil, lemongrass oil and rosemary oil.”
Zuke’s has reformulated its Z-Bone Dental Chews lineup to improve digestibility and lower the calorie count. Available in apple and carrot varieties, the Z-Bone Dental Chew features a special texture for polishing teeth and maintaining healthy gums.
“The ingredient list is simple and purposely focused. Pea- and potato-based proteins are easy to digest; wholefood fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, apples and spinach are nutrient-rich; and alfalfa, parsley, and fennel not only provide additional antioxidant support, but naturally freshen breath by supporting digestion,” said David Rizzo, Zuke’s director of operations.
Z-Bone Dental Chews are available in four sizes to accommodate dogs 10 pounds or larger.
John Paul Pet, known for its range of high-end shampoos and grooming products with the tag line, “tested on humans first,” has a tooth and gum wipe made with peppermint oil.
“The ingredients are simple,” explained Gina Dial, vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s peppermint oil, baking soda and glycerin. The idea of a wipe is that they are very hands on, giving pet parents an opportunity to see what is going on in their pet’s mouth and an opportunity to see any potential tooth and gum issues.”
Ora-Bone is a new product from Loving Pets Products. According to President Eric Abbey, his vision in designing the product was to create a dental chew with a unique shape that makes it easy for dogs to hold and chew and that offers a variety of textures to work the tartar and plaque off of the dog’s teeth.
“It took a tremendous amount of R&D to determine what makes dental solutions effective,” he explained. “Just like in humans, excellent dental and oral care is critical to a dog’s quality of life, as poor care can shorten a dog’s life due to the fact that dental disease is tied directly to heart health. The varied textured surfaces on the Ora-Bone remove tartar and prevent buildup for improved oral/ dental health and three breath-freshening ingredients freshen a dog’s breath in the mouth and gut.”
The chews are available in three sizes, and there is a patent pending to protect the design and innovative shape.
WHIMZEES, well known in the marketplace for its innovative chew shapes, has introduced BRUSHZEES, a doggie “chewbrush” with specially designed grooves and ridges to help remove plaque and tartar and engineered to offer dogs various ways to grip it and chew.
The chew’s unique textures and shapes are designed to fight plaque, ensure proper blood flow through the gums and help to prevent the build-up of tartar and bad breath. These chews also have a limited ingredient list that is vegetarian, grain-free, GMO-free, gluten-free and loaded with fiber. Available in three sizes, the product comes in a convenient value pack.
Help from Kibble
Royal Canin is a food manufacturer known for its special breed recipes, and, according to Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinary nutritionist and Royal Canin scientific affairs manager, dental health is very characteristic to specific breeds. The company recently launched 11 new breedspecific formulas which all feature unique kibble designs to help encourage chewing.
“Any dog can develop dental issues, but small-breed dogs tend to be more prone to dental problems and tartar buildup than medium- and large-breed dogs,” she explained. “When I think of dogs prone to dental problems, I think of small-breed dogs such as the Chihuahua, Maltese and poodle.”
However, keeping a clean and healthy mouth is important for every dog.
“Royal Canin uses kibble technology to promote dental health, as certain breeds have different-shaped muzzles and grasp and chew their food differently. By using different kibble shapes and sizes, different breeds have a much higher likelihood of chewing their food thoroughly, which can improve dental health among other benefits.
“Eukanuba products with S-shaped kibble all contain sodium hexametaphosphate, which is a nutrient that helps reduce tartar buildup,” she added. “This includes all Eukanuba adult, senior, weight, performance and breed-specific formulas.”
The company uses social media to get the message to dog lovers about breed education and how dental health is an important aspect of breed education.
“During February, we typically highlight the importance of proper dental care on our social media channels, as well,” Lennox added.