We get it -- brushing your pet's teeth daily doesn't always happen. It's ok.
Although brushing is best for your pet, there are other ways you can help maintain good oral health between professional cleanings that don't involve chasing your pet around the house with a toothbrush.
With so many products claiming to help your pet's teeth, it can be tough to pick the right one. That's where VOHC comes in! The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is comprised of veterinary dentists and dental scientists who review submitted product data on pet dental products. They will grant the "VOHC Seal" if the products meets their standards. Definitely look for the VOHC seal, as it means the product is veterinarian-approved:
Let's talk about some of the VOHC-approved products:
Chews & Treats
While chews and treats should not replace brushing entirely, they can be helpful. What's great about them is that they work just by having your pet chew on them. Dental chew treats mimic brushing through the friction caused when your pet bites down. Make sure your pet is actually chewing them, though! If your pet eats the treat in less than a minute, this is the wrong option for them. Check with your primary veterinarian before starting a new treat if your pet has food sensitivities and/or allergies, and always follow the package feeing guide:
Humans have many options for fresh breath, and so do pets. Water additives are like mouthwash for pets, but they don't have to spit it out. These additives contain natural ingredients such as papain and zinc that can help reduce plaque-causing bacteria.
It's important to understand that many pets have dental disease occurring below the gumline that you can't see by just looking in the mouth. A complete oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT) by your veterinarian is often necessary to ensure a disease-free mouth, prior to starting an at-home maintenance routine. Always refer to your veterinarian for the most reliable advice about your pet's oral care. All the options above help manage the plaque and tartar build-up -- but remember, brushing is your best line of defense.