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Dental Health Is More than Fighting Bad Breath

By Amy P. Castro

In the past few years, more and more research has found strong ties between poor dental health and other health problems in humans, but what about pets? As it turns out, dental health for pets is just as important and has just as much impact on overall health as it does for people. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), periodontal disease not only affects a pet’s mouth, but it is tied to other health problems including kidney, liver and even heart muscle changes.

Although some pet owners maintain dental health diligence through regular brushing and expensive dental cleanings, others find they’re unable to brush their pet’s teeth at all, let alone regularly, and many struggle with the cost of professional dental treatments.

So how can you help guide your customers to dental care alternatives for their pets that are not only easy to use, but safe and effective? According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), oral rinses, gels, sprays and dental chews can all help with a pet’s dental hygiene. However, not all products are safe or equally effective. To be sure you’re offering your customers the best dental care options, be sure to carry products that have earned the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval, as recommended by the AAHA. The VOHC is an organization that evaluates pet products to see if they meet standards for reducing plaque or tartar.

To help your customers better manage their pets’ dental health, Purina launched the DentaLife brand of dog and cat treats in 2016. DentaLife treats are designed to clean hard-to-reach places in a pet’s mouth, are sci­entifically proven to reduce tartar buildup on teeth and carry the VOHC seal of approval. In January, DentaLife released its new ActivFresh treats, which contain a proprietary active ingredient blend of all-natural spirulina and honey that fights bad breath at the source rather than just masking bad-breath odor. For dogs who love to chew, Purina also carries Advanced Clean Dental Chews that help keep dogs chewing longer, which reduces tartar buildup and provides improved cleaning.

For customers looking for an alternative option or additional protection beyond treats for their dogs, the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) recommends liquid and gel products containing chlorhexidine because chlorhexidine is the most effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Chlorhexidine works by binding to a dog’s oral tissues and tooth surfaces and is then gradually released throughout the dog’s mouth.