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Dental Chews Are They Good or Bad?

Dental Chews Are They Good or Bad?

Dental chews are all the rage for cats and dogs nowadays. These dental chews come in all shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. With such a dizzying array to choose from, it seems impossible to select the right one for your pet. You may even wonder if dental chews are safe in the first place.

This article will help you to decide if dental chews are appropriate for your pet, and provide general guidelines on choosing the most appropriate dental chew for your pet.

Can dental chews replace teeth-brushing?

Ideally, dental chews should not replace tooth brushing. Tooth-brushing (with pet toothpaste) is the gold standard for at-home dental care. According to research, the mechanical action of toothbrush bristles on teeth has a significant role in reducing plaque build-up. Furthermore, pet toothpaste contains substances (called “enzymes”) that reduce bacteria in the pet’s mouth.

Therefore, a combination of a toothbrush AND toothpaste is best. They work better together than on their own.

However, we know that some pets refuse to have their teeth brushed. Many pet owners have risked life and limb to try and brush their pets’ teeth. For these pets, dental chews are better than nothing.

You may then ask: Are dental chews good?

Are dental chews good?

Generally speaking, it’s good to use dental chews in addition to your pet’s toothbrush and toothpaste. Research shows that dogs who actively chew on the right dental chews can reduce plaque buildup and bad breath. Some dental chews can also massage the gums and help to reduce inflammation.

Having said that, some dental chews are better than others. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is a part of the American Veterinary Dental College. The VOHC gives a “seal of acceptance” for dental products (e.g diets, treats, toothpaste) that are effective at controlling plaque in cats and dogs. Do check their lists out.

Your next questions may be more specific. You may wonder: Are some dental chews dangerous to cats? Are some dental chews dangerous to cats?

Are some dental chews dangerous?

The ideal dental chew for your pet will depend on their unique circumstances. For instance, hard dental chews are generally not appropriate for older pets with loose teeth and severe gum disease, as they may cause tooth fractures in these pets. On the flip side, aggressive chewers will benefit from sturdy dental chews that don’t break apart.

Some types of dental chews are inappropriate for all dogs. For instance, branches should not be used as they can splinter off, lodge in pet’s mouths and cause a nasty oral infection. Severely affected animals may be unable to eat and may end up wasting away. The infection won’t resolve unless the splinter is removed, and splinters are difficult to detect (for instance, they don’t show up on Xrays!)

Rawhide is a popular choice amongst pet owners, but some pets may swallow the rawhide. Swallowed rawhide can potentially cause tummy blockages in pets. Tummy blockages are life-threatening and often require emergency surgery. Signs of a tummy blockage include (but are not limited to): vomiting, inability to keep down food/water, lethargy and so on. Visit a vet asap if you notice these symptoms!

What products should I get for my pets’ dental care?

As mentioned before, you should get pet toothpaste and a pet toothbrush. Remember not to use human toothpaste on your pet. Human toothpaste contains fluorides, which can cause kidney failure in pets. You can opt for a finger guard to replace the pet toothbrush if you wish. If you’re looking for examples of brands, here are some:

Toothpaste: You can consider brands such as Oratene toothpaste or the Jean Paul Nutraceuticals Natural Probiotic Dental Paste for Dogs. For pets with gum disease, you can consider the Oratene Antiseptic Oral Gel Care

Toothbrush: You can consider the Virbac C.E.T Dual Ended Toothbrush for Dogs Cats

Dental Chews: For dogs, you can consider the Delicate Care™ Hypoallergenic Dental Treats for Dogs

How do I introduce tooth-brushing to my pet?

Speak to your usual vet clinic for a demonstration! Teeth brushing should be introduced gradually, with lots of positive reinforcement (e.g. praise, healthy dental treats) after each session.
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