Puppy pet dental. Dog with toothbrush in mouth.

Giving your pet treats is one of the more enjoyable parts of pet ownership, and even more so when those treats have health benefits. But are those pet dental chews really all they are cracked up to be? Bayshore Animal Hospital & Avian Practice has the answers to all your questions.

The Theory Behind Pet Dental Chews

Dental disease is a common problem in our canine and feline family members. 

Over time, plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth as food and saliva accumulate. Plaque is a sticky substance on which bacteria love to make their home. As more and more bacteria continue to move it, they cause trouble.

Oral bacteria that begin on the teeth can start to affect the surrounding soft tissues such as the gums (gingiva) and the periodontal ligament that holds the tooth in place. 

Unchecked, dental disease can have a serious impact on your pet’s health. Progression can result in:

  • Oral pain
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Inflamed gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Spread of oral bacteria into the bloodstream

Bacterial invasion of the blood can have serious consequences, including heart valve problems, liver disease, and kidney impairment. 

Dental chews, in theory, can help to keep plaque and tartar accumulation to a minimum, promoting healthy teeth and gums. 

Dental Chews and Pet Wellness

It’s easy to understand how dental care is essential to pet wellness. While routine veterinary dental examinations and dental care are the foundation of your pet’s dental health routine, what you do at home matters as well. 

Home dental care can be composed of several things, and some work better for certain pets and people than others. Brushing your pet’s teeth is a great foundation for home dental care, but isn’t always a realistic option.

Adjunctive care products such as dental diets, pet dental treats, oral rinses, and water additives can be a great addition to your pet’s dental care routine. While they don’t replace professional dental care, just as brushing your teeth and using mouthwash doesn’t remove the need for your dentist visits, they really can help. 

Not all pet dental products are the same, though, and not all of them work well.

When choosing a pet dental care product:

  • Look for endorsement by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to be sure that your product has been scientifically shown to provide benefit
  • Consider the calories in any treats or chews and adjust your pet’s nutrition plan accordingly
  • Choose a product appropriately targeted for your pet’s body size to maximize effects and minimize the danger of choking 
  • Don’t be afraid to consult us if you need advice 

Pet dental treats and chews, when chosen wisely, can be an integral part of your pet’s dental health. Good dental health care both at home and at the veterinary hospital is a large part of pet wellness care, and being proactive can add quality and longevity to your pet’s life.