girl brushing dog's teeth

We recently broke down the “How To” instructions of cleaning your pet’s teeth,  but now will take a look at what kinds of products will best care for your dog or cat’s oral hygiene in the cleaning process.  Dental disease is one of the most common ailments for both dogs and cats (nearly 85% of domestic pets suffer from periodontal disease), and can also lead to several serious infections.  Be prepared with the proper tools, toys and chews to fortify your cat or dog’s oral hygiene, as dental care should be a high priority for your pet.

Care products

Pet toothbrushes:  Start off with a reliable toothbrush designed exactly for your pet’s mouth. Most pet stores offer brushes with soft bristles, flat headed tops so as not to disturb the animal’s gums.   If your pet is uncomfortable having a pointy brush in his mouth, there are also finger toothbrushes which cap your digits for an easy way to brush your pet’s teeth.
Pet Toothpaste:  Since cats and dogs cannot use human toothpaste, make sure you get them their own.  Pets don’t understand that they need to spit out the paste, so they will usually just swallow whatever is in their mouths, so make sure you choose a product that won’t make them sick. Pet toothpastes come in flavors such as mint, spearmint, peanut butter, liver, poultry, beef, seafood, vanilla, etc.  Some pastes will even brighten the whiteness of your dog’s teeth.  (Note: if you are brushing your pet’s teeth not only for the health but because of bad breath- steer clear of meat or fish-flavored pastes.) 
Anti-plaque products:  
Some products come in the form of gel pads that can be rubbed over a dog’s teeth to help guard against the buildup of tartar. There are also anti-plaque oral sprays, and anti-plaque water additives, both of which can significantly decrease tartar build-up in dogs and cats.
Dental cleanse pads:
These products are great quick-fixes on days when you don’t have time for a full brushing session. Most dental cleansing pad products are filled with chlohexidine (a bacteria killing agent), and can be rubbed over the teeth and gums of your pet, leaving a minty fragrance behind.

Toys and Chews

Dental dog toys:  These rubber dog toys are designed to improve oral hygiene by naturally scrapping off the plaque buildup on a dog’s teeth with narrow fissures and ridges. Similarly, flossy rope chew toys also help work through teeth, helping to remove any food trapped between them or in pockets of your pet’s mouth.
Bad Breath Chews:  Sometimes dogs and cats develop foul bad breath that can be very challenging to beat. Many cat treats and dog chews both taste delicious to your pet, but will also make life better for you. There are spearmint biscuits, mint-flavored bones, and mint or fennel flavored treats. Be sure that you pick something chewy enough for the pet to really work on without swallowing it too quickly to benefit from the freshness. If the chews aren’t working, there are also breath tablets that you can give a pet to freshen up his mouth.
Cleansing Pet Chews:   These brushless toothpaste chews, are perfect for those who are unable to scrub their pet’s teeth daily.   Certain products are shaped to resemble edible floss in the treat, to help get in crevices while your dog is playfully chewing.   Many of these treats have flaxseed and baking soda to work as abrasive cleaning agents, and are paired with fresh flavors like mint, fennel or parsley  to keep your pet’s mouth salubrious.

Products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)

  • Diet Bites for cats and dogs
  • Tartar Shield soft chews for dogs
  • Anti-plaque water additive
  • Anti-plaque Oral Spray

Help prepare your kitty or puppy for the daily brushing ritual by training them for handling at an early age.  This will make brushing teeth a much easier process in the future!