home / pet health + safety / healthy bytes / fetch! blog / 3 dental care hacks to boost your pet’s oral health
Default image

3 dental care hacks to boost your pet’s oral health

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

Think about all the work that you put into your own teeth: you brush twice a day, you floss (or you should be flossing) and you might even use a fluoride rinse every night. Even with all that work, you still see a dentist for an evaluation and full cleaning.


Now think about the work you put into your pet’s oral health. I’m guessing that it’s drastically different from your own, but it shouldn’t be. Your pet’s oral health is as important to his overall health as yours is. I know brushing your pet’s teeth is a drag, but it’s a necessary chore. Daily brushing is best, but if that’s not realistic, brushing every other day at the very least will help, too.


There are three, more “hands-off” pet dental care hacks you can (and should!) incorporate that will also help reduce the buildup of disease-causing tartar. Incorporating these three easy options will pay off in a healthier mouth and a healthier pet.


Dental Diets

Prescription dental diets are formulated with the perfect size, shape and composition to provide a mechanically active way to physically deal with plaque and tartar. When your dog or cat crunches on the kibble, it scrapes the teeth, keeping plaque and tartar at bay. You have to feed your pet, anyway – you may as well help her teeth while doing so!


Dental Chews

Dental chews come in two forms: edible (meaning they’re meant to be consumed) and inedible (meaning they’re meant just for chewing). These treats and chews work much like dental diets in that they remove plaque physically. Some chews contain enzymes that help fight the buildup of plaque and tartar, too.


When choosing a dental chew, remember to choose the appropriately-sized chew. Products like Virbac C.E.T® chews and Greenies™ come in different sizes depending on the size of your pet. Giving the wrong size can be dangerous for your pet.


Water Additives

Adding plaque-reducing supplements to your pet’s water is an easy way to aid his dental health. It’s just one extra step to add the product to the water bowl, which you fill daily anyway!

Now, there are two important caveats to these three easy options:


First, never start any new home dental care regime on a pet who has pre-existing dental disease. None of these wonderful options are miracle workers, and trying to brush tartar-laden teeth or feeding a dental diet to a pet with an already painful mouth is cruel. Nothing you can do at home will replace the need for a comprehensive oral exam and treatment by your veterinarian. Let your pet’s doctor address her oral health first, and go from there. The options listed above are for maintaining good oral health, not attaining it.


Secondly, make sure the product is accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council®. The pet product industry is a multi-million dollar market. There are so many products on the shelves that don’t work, and it’s hard to know what to look for, even as a veterinarian. That’s why I let someone smarter than me do all the work. The folks at The Veterinary Oral Health Council have reviewed the data from clinical trials and compiled a list of products that meet pre-set standards for plaque and tartar control. If a product doesn’t have a VOHC seal of approval, I know to look elsewhere.


Maintaining good oral health after your pet’s dental cleaning may seem like just one more chore, but with these pet dental health hacks, you can see that it’s not so bad after all. While these easy options are not a substitute for veterinary dental care, when combined with brushing at home, they can extend the time between cleanings and contribute to a healthier mouth and a healthier pet!

Add a comment here
  • *indicates required field

  • read more »
Email sent Close

Thanks for leaving a comment on this page. It will now be sent to our administrator for approval and should be added to this site shortly.

Posted by Carolyn Beilfuss
on February 13 2017 18:31

I have seen a lot of people switch to raw feeding and it has done wonders for their dog's teeth. This should definitely be on the list. Also, in my personal experience, dental chews only work if your pet actually chews them.. and chews them WELL. I have two huskies that I give a dental chew to every night after their dinner. One is an inhaler and the other is very dainty and chews everything very well. My inhaler's teeth are a horrible mess, and my dainty girl has sparkly white chompers. (I can't feed raw or I would, they are both allergic to chicken and beef)

Posted by Jan Marie Celaya
on November 24 2016 13:35

I brush my Mieabella's teeth everyday...she is only 5 pounds. I bought the disposable tooth brushes which are very tiny. I took all the people toopaste off and now use a dog toothpaste or peroxide and baking soda. I also use a qtip and put a bit of dental gel around her gums..she so cute just rolls over on her back every time she sees the toothpaste and brush..

Posted by Elaine Cummings
on February 18 2016 14:06

Interesting info ... but for CATS, not so easy! My big cat has a few GREENIES at night ... but, my little cat now has NO TEETH. -- She was a rescue from my neighborhood and, at about age 2, late last summer, she had to have all of her teeth removed! I was shocked at the diagnosis, but she has recovered as my vets assured me that she would do! She gobbles up her kibbled dry food, and of course has no problem with the wet spoonfuls that they both get, three/four times a day. -- It seems that her gums were already into periodontal decline and teeth were falling out, even though I had not realized it. I have been used to raising horses and dogs. Cats, not so much! :)

Posted by Martha Waltien
on February 18 2016 11:55

Actually, if you feed your cat a nutritionally balanced, 100% raw diet that has meat on the bone that will usually do the trick. Our Marie was a lucky feral kitten whose Mom cat taught her how to eat a whole mouse and she now can eat, bone and all, totally raw sliced turkey drumstick pieces with the bone, and bone-in thighs. They chew on the uncooked bone and suck in the marrow as well. Many cats will chew on chicken necks (raw only!). I have often read that cats in the wild have good teeth if they are hunters and don't eat canned or dry food given them by humans. Not that I believe a cat ought to be deliberately left outside to fend! (And of course cooked bone is extremely dangerous as it can and does splinter.)

policies by AGCS Marine Insurance Company, an Allianz company

our bloggers
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.