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Beyond the Brush – Other Factors of Pet Dental Health    

By: Dr. Al Townshend

As with humans, regular brushing of your pet’s teeth is considered the best and most effective way to maintain pet dental health. That said, not everyone is willing or able to brush their pet’s teeth every day and still want to do all they can to slow the onset of dental disease.

There are other items to consider when it comes to pet dental health.


Many believe that dry pet foods help to stimulate the gums and keep the teeth clean. Actually, most agree, dry foods have little effect on pet dental health (Veterinary Information Network Dr. Wendy Brooks Reviewed and revised 2017 Client Education). They may play a small role by scraping the sides of the teeth in the back of the mouth. It seems the larger the kibble size the more effective dry foods can be.

Wet foods, like canned and pouched foods have little effect on pet dental health and can speed up the process of plaque and tartar formation.

Recently it has been found that a raw food diet can improve pet dental health and slow the formation of plaque and tartar.

Meaty, large, raw bones encourage chewing, which can provide cleaning and gum stimulation. Cooked bones can present a danger. Raw bones are rarely incriminated in tooth damage.

There are over the counter pet foods that claim a dental benefit. Many contain synthetic chemicals that are generally unacceptable to Natural Guardians looking for natural, species-appropriate recipes for their pets.

There are a multitude of treats, toys and chews as well as additives that are also intended to aid in keeping the teeth and gums healthy. 

Dental Chews

The term “dental chews” would include hooves, bully sticks, smoked bones, antlers, and jerky chews. They are intended to scrape the teeth and help to keep them clean. It is important a pet chew these completely and in smaller pieces in order to prevent digestive problems.

Nylon chew toys, smoked bones, and antlers are designed not to be chewed up and swallowed. There are intended to scrape the teeth and remove plaque and tartar

Dental Treats

Treats specifically designed to help keep the teeth and gums healthy and reduce the formation of plaque and tartar are ideal daily support for dental health.

Dental Wipes, Rinses and Pads

Wipes, rinses, and pads are effective alternatives for pets that resist brushing the teeth or for Guardians that are not able to brush their pet’s teeth.

Dental Gels and Sprays

Sprays and Gels are also designed as alternatives to brushing. The reduce bacteria and freshen a pet’s breath.

Water Additives

Supplements designed to be added to a pet’s drinking water can reduce the level of bacteria and freshen a pet’s breath.

Chew Toys

There are dental chew toys for both dogs and cats that help keep the teeth clean and stimulate the gums. It is important that the toys cannot be broken up into pieces and potentially eaten.

Additional Supplements  

  • Probiotics support the digestive tract, in part, by providing the right bacteria.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body, including the mouth
  • Coconut oil is known to be antimicrobial and can help reduce the level of bacteria in the mouth.

A regular veterinary annual exam that includes evaluating oral health is essential. Your veterinarian is an important expert advocate for your pet’s health and well-being.

Keep in mind, at some point, almost all pets will need professional cleaning, and some more frequently than others. All of the support mentioned above is designed to slow the formation of plaque and tartar and delay the need for a professional dental cleaning for as long as possible.

Be sure to discuss proper dental hygiene with the staff at any Pet Planet Store. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Free Nutritional Consultation at a Pet Planet Health location near you.


Additional Resources

Dry Food and Dental Disease in Dogs

Integrative Nutritional Oral Health

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