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Several companies offer diets specifically formulated to help control plaque and tartar in dogs and cats. Look for one that carries the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance, given to products proven to help control plaque and tartar when used as directed.
These treats typically have an abrasive texture that mechanically helps control plaque and tartar. Some also include sodium hexametaphosphate, which reduces tartar formation, or chlorhexidine gluconate, which can work for up to 24 hours.
Watch your pet at least the first few times you give a new type of dental chew. Your pet should chew it for a few minutes. If your pet swallows a chew whole or after one bite, stop giving the chews.
And stick to dental chews rather than opting for real bones, which can damage teeth and cause gastrointestinal problems.
Oral Rinses and Sprays
These products contain active ingredients such as chlorhexidine gluconate and zinc to help fight plaque and bacteria and help maintain your pet’s oral health. One that has a point-and-squeeze applicator can make it easier to rinse your pet’s teeth after a meal.
Drinking Water Additives
A simple way to help prevent plaque accumulation, these products can be added to your pet’s drinking water daily. Some come in premeasured packets to make dosing more convenient.
When using water additives, pay close attention to your pet’s drinking habits for the first few days. Cats especially may not like the taste of the additive and stop drinking water. If this happens, consider offering two water bowls, one with the additive and one with regular water, to make sure your pet continues to drink.
These products reduce plaque and tartar formation by creating a barrier that prevents bacteria from attaching to the teeth. They are ideally applied after a professional dental cleaning and need to be reapplied once a week.
Brushing is the gold standard for at-home dental care, but sometimes life gets in the way. Adding products to help control plaque and tartar to your pet’s daily routine can help protect your pet’s dental health between veterinary visits, even on days when you can’t brush.
This article originally appeared in the winter issue of HealthyPet Magazine.
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