If you’ve been feeding your pets dry food because it’s supposed to help keep their teeth clean, you’re on the right track. But not all dry pet foods a created equal in promoting dental health.

There is some evidence that because dry food is not as sticky as moist food, if pets do chew it there are benefits not only from the cleansing effect, but also from having food that doesn’t stick as much to the tooth surface. The problem is that most pets wolf their food instead of chewing it thoroughly before swallowing.

Dental diets have been designed to get around this problem. Some of the premium brands contain dental formulations (ask your vet to suggest a goad food), and some dental diets are ‘prescription’ formulas they are not out on the shelf at the clinic or pet store, but are available from the counter once your pet has had their mouth checked to ensure that they do not need professional cleaning or even extractions before the diet is commenced.

There are different types of dental diets on the market. They may work by mechanical cleaning (a large and non-crumbling biscuit), and/or by containing agents (sodium tripolyphosphate or sodium hexametaphosphate) that slow the rate at which plaque hardens into tartar, making it easier to remove from the surface of the tooth.

In research tests on dogs, increasing biscuit diameter by 50% was associated with a 42% reduction in tartar. Coating the biscuit with sodium tripolyphosphate or sodium hexametaphosphate induced a further 55% in tartar reduction. The tartar reduction effect was more pronounced on the back molar teeth compared with incisor and canine teeth.

So, for healthy dogs and cats with no other health issues, choosing a dry dental diet makes a lot of sense (remembering that a dry/wet mixed diet is still recommended by most vets for healthy cats).

A good diet alone may keep some big dog’s teeth clean, but many other dogs and cats also need other dental cleaning aids. Dental chews impregnated with enzymes, and tartar-control rinses, sprays, gels, or water additives also help reduce tartar build-up. And remember regular brushing is the single most important thing you can do to keep your pets’ breath fresh and teeth tartar-free.

Depending on how effectively at-home care is carried out, and the genetics of your pet. they will also require veterinary professional cleaning at periods to maintain dental health. Good dental hygiene contributes to a pet’s overall health and can even increase their life span. The bacteria associated with plaque and tartar beneath the gum line enter the blood stream and can settle in the heart valves, kidneys and liver. This is especially dangerous in older pets or those with a compromised immune system.

Clean teeth and gums are very important to your pet’s overall health, comfort and longevity. Veterinary dentists advise that if we don’t take care of our pets’ teeth, the
decreased life span is at least two years.