“Oral care is a growing trend among pet parents. Just as with humans, pet oral care is extremely important,” said Steven Shweky, president and CEO of fetch…for pets!, licensee of Arm & Hammer products. “Dental disease is one of the most preventable illnesses in pets, therefore consumers are proactive in providing the right kind of prevention for their pet. As pet dental care preferences vary on a large scale, it’s important to offer a variety of products to best fit the consumer.”
Dr. Martin Glinsky, chief science officer for PetMatrix, Inc. knows the importance of the retailer.
“Since dental health is a significant problem in dogs, the opportunity for the retailer to help his customers combat this universal challenge and increase sales is substantial,” he said. “A good variety of chew products, along with appropriate signage, is very important. When possible, a store would increase sales significantly with identifying a ‘dental care’ location in the store.”
Dental health problems in pets may seem familiar. In fact, a lot of humans suffer from the same issues.
“Dental health issues for pets are similar to those for humans,” said Dale Metz, director of the Companion Animal Business Unit at Vets Plus Inc. “Plaque buildup can lead to tartar, gingivitis and bone loss, so it is important to physically remove the plaque from the teeth. The majority of dogs and cats have some level of periodontal disease by three years of age. Oral health issues can impact other areas of the body as well, leading to major health concerns if not cared for properly. Maintaining oral health supports the animal’s whole well-being.”
Shweky echoes the plaque warning.
“Common dental health issues for pets are plaque and tartar buildup and bad breath, which are all signs of dental disease,” he said. “If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, where your pet will experience gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and other complications below the gum line that pet owners cannot see.”
Shweky also said that gum disease can even lead to bigger problems.
“In severe cases, periodontal disease can cause systemic illnesses such as kidney and heart disease,” he said. “A weekly cleaning regimen will help control all of these issues and maintain good oral hygiene. “
Gum disease is extremely common.
“80 percent of dogs get periodontal disease by the time they are two and a half!”
The signs for dental problems can be pretty clear.
“Especially for dogs, one of the main concerns is bad breath,” said Metz. “There are a variety of products out there that help to freshen breath, including sprays, hard chews and toothpastes. Bacteria in the mouth cause this odor and it’s important to eliminate the bacteria in order to create a healthy environment in the mouth.”
Solving the Problem
There are multiple products that combat these issues and consumers look to their retailers for information.
“A weekly cleaning regimen will help control all of these issues and maintain good oral hygiene,” said Shweky.
For instance, Arm & Hammer has developed the Advanced Care and Clinical Care product lines for cats and dogs which includes a variety of toothbrushes, toothpaste, sprays, foams, rinses, wipes, gels and balms.
“Within the Advanced care line, you can choose from two cleaning systems; tartar control and fresh breath,” said Shweky. “For more severe cases of oral disease, the Clinical Care line features products with maximum strength cleaning abilities for both gum care and plaque control.”
Arm & Hammer uses their baking soda formula for other products as well if pets get fussy about toothbrushes.
“Arm & Hammer also has a collaborative system of ORA-CARE toys, chews and treats, all formulated with baking soda to improve tartar control, fresh breath, skin and coat care and hip and joint support.”
For more fussy pets, Tropiclean has an entire line dedicated to oral health in both dogs and cats with no toothbrush required.
Tropiclean’s natural Water Additive provides dogs and cats with daily oral hygiene care. Pet owners can simply add one tablespoon into their pet’s water bowl. It will eliminate bad breath for at least 12 hours.
Tropiclean also makes a gel that dog and cat owners can just apply directly to teeth and gums. It then kills the germs that cause bad breath, plaque and gingivitis. It even soothes minor gum irritations.
Dental chews also make it easy for consumers to deal with pet dental issues without emptying their wallets or putting their pets under anesthesia.
“Dental chews are one of the easiest ways to support oral health,” said Metz. “A hard chew satisfies the dog’s natural urge to chew while mechanically cleaning teeth. Chews are great for ongoing maintenance of oral health as part of a complete oral care program that includes regular veterinary cleanings.”
Dr. Glinsky agrees.
“Chews in general are also helpful in helping to curb bad chewing (destructive) habits in dogs, especially puppies,” he said. “Dogs have an instinctive need to chew. If they are not offered a good product, they will often exhibit destructive chewing behavior that is annoying and sometimes expensive for the dog parent and potentially harmful to the dog.”
PetMatrix, LLC has several non-rawhide chews to combat dental issues.
“All of our non-rawhide chews provide dogs with an excellent chewing experience and aids in overall dental health,” said Dr. Glinsky. “The high palatability of our products encourages dogs to completely consume our chews and thus, obtain the benefits intended when we developed these products. Chews that are not consumed because of poor palatability obviously don’t help the dog at all.”
KaNoodles Premium Dental Chews by Vets Plus, Inc. supports pet dental health in two ways.
“KaNoodles Premium Dental Chews are a unique product to support the oral health of dogs by removing tartar and freshening breath,” said Metz. “The chews are made from wholesome grains, making them easily digestible and nutritious.”
According to Metz, they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help keep teeth and gums healthy and zinc acetate to prevent tartar buildup.
Manufactured as an extruded pasta, cut and naturally air-dried, the product remains flexible so dogs can chew them without gum damage.
“KaNoodles chews are water soluble—like a noodle—causing no harm to dogs if a large piece is swallowed,” said Metz. “The chews contain no preservatives, artificial color, added sugars, or GMOs. Available in four sizes from small to x-large for adult dogs, KaNoodles dental chews are sold in 6- or 12-ounce bags or individually wrapped.”
As far as dental sticks, Indigo has got pet owners covered. The Indigo Fresh Dental Sticks are low-calorie snacks that freshen breath and help clean teeth. These treats can improve pet’s dental health and can be used daily for best results.
How Products Work
So how do these innovative products work? Each one is different depending on a pet’s needs.
“The patented shape of KaNoodles chews works with the dog’s chewing action to effectively clean teeth,” said Metz. “The deep grooves of KaNoodles Chews for dogs increase tooth surface interaction time and reach down to the base of each tooth to remove plaque and tartar.”
Arm & Hammer’s toothbrushes come in several options to make them easier to use for pet owners and can be used in the same manner in which humans brush their own teeth.
“Toothbrushes are specially designed to reach all surfaces and come in an assortment of sizes and models, giving owners several options to best fit their pet’s preferences,” said Shweky. “Oral care products also come in a variety of flavors including vanilla ginger, spearmint, beef, poultry, peanut butter, tasteless and more!”
For pets that refuse to use a toothbrush, sprays and foams have easy applicators for those hard to reach places.
“Gels and balms can be applied to the gums and teeth using a finger brush or just by using your finger,” said Shweky. “The gels and balms adhere to the teeth for long lasting protection against plaque and tartar buildup. To make things even easier, rinses can be poured right into your pet’s water, so they are cleaning and don’t even know it. Wipes can also be used to keep teeth clean, perfect if you’re on the go. Lastly, it doesn’t get any more convenient than giving your dog a mint, breath strip, toy, chew or treat, making dental care simple and fun for your pet.”
According to Dr. Glinsky, PetMatrix’s chews take abrasive action to help reduce plaque and tartar build-up on pet teeth and gums.
Indigo’s Fresh Dental Sticks actually scrape away plaque and tartar as a dog chews, leaving teeth and gums cleaner. There’s a slight minty flavor to them that leaves dog’s breath fresh.
According to Metz, Vets Plus, Inc. is currently working to develop several more innovative methods to support pet dental health. Therefore, retailers should keep an eye out on how to help pet owner dental problems even more.
Tropiclean also has products in the works including a line just for puppies and advanced whitening gel.
With all of the products available, owners can really take a bite out of their pets’ dental health problems without a hefty fee.