By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM
To promote good oral healthcare for cats and dogs, February has been designated National Pet Dental Health Month. I want to be sure pet owners are aware of some of the veterinary resources available to help keep pet mouths healthy.
Your primary care veterinarian
The first place to start to keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy is your veterinarian’s office. An oral examination is part of an annual (or biannual if you have an older pet) examination. A quick look in your pet’s mouth will quickly reveal how effective tooth brushing is in keeping tartar under control. Your veterinarian can recommend special food and products to keep teeth healthy and also choose the right time for a full dental cleaning. Keep in mind rabbits also have dental problems from over grown teeth. Your veterinarian needs to see those bunny choppers once or twice a year if you have an older rabbit.
Board certified veterinary dentists
The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) is the nationally recognized certification body for veterinary dentists. In addition to earning a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, a board certified veterinary dentist has completed specialized training in veterinary dentistry under the guidance of a board certified mentor and successfully completed a certification examination. Your neighborhood veterinarian can provide routine dental care, but for big problems of teeth and gums, these highly trained veterinarians are the experts your pet needs. The AVDC also sponsors the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
Seal of approval
The Veterinary Oral Health Council exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. The Council is recognized worldwide through endorsements by organizations such as the British Veterinary Dental Association and the Australian Veterinary Dental Society.
Manufacturers of products designed to decrease plaque and tartar on the teeth can voluntarily submit their clinical studies performed according to VOHC standards. If the products meet the requirements, the VOHC awards a seal of approval. Pet owners will be happy to know some are their favorite products are on this list, including dental chews from Friskees and Greenies, and foods from Iams, Hills, Purina and Royal Canin. Regular use of products with the VOHC seal will decrease the severity of plaque and tartar in pets. For a list of products bearing the VOHC seal, click here.
Looking for more information?
In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, the folks at Greenies and Trone Research have teamed up to demystify common misunderstandings about pet oral health.
The AMC website also has information about dental care in pets.
A question many pet owners have about dental cleanings in pets is related to the required anesthesia, the topic of a blog last year.
And finally, WebMD also has dental information resources for the pet owner. Check them out here!