Image Credit – Flickr.com/
Most pet owners have packed daily schedules and that makes it difficult for them to brush the teeth of their pets. Others have pets that are sweethearts except when it is time for them to get their teeth brushed. If you fit in to either of these two categories, or if your dog has problems with bad breath and tartar buildup, your vet might suggest a specially formulated dental diet.
Plaque is a natural part of the bacterial balance in the mouth. It is colorless, soft and can be easily removed with the help of a firm brush. However, it can harden the teeth if it is not removed regularly. When it becomes tartar, it can attach itself to the surface of the teeth and can irritate the gums, leading to eventual tissue loss. Once plaque turns into tartar, it can only be removed with the help of dental instruments. Dental diets are designed to reduce plaque accumulation on the teeth.
What should you look for?
Look for the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. That ensures that the product meets all the required standards. These foods need to be balanced and should have the same nutrient content as standard pet food. They also contain additional formulations to help clean the teeth of pets.
Most treat products and hard kibble that are manufactured for dental diets are large in size and have a fibrous and airy texture so that the kibble’s edges scrub at the surface of the teeth when the animal chews on it. Some of the food items also have additional coatings that are meant to reduce the dental plaque.
Is a dental diet the way to go?
Since dental diets have a good nutritional balance, most pets can have it as a part of their daily diet. However, you need to keep in mind that not all their needs can be met with a dental diet plan. They should never be made the main nutritional source for dogs or puppies with special medical or nutritional needs. At best, they should only be used to supplement an already well balanced diet.
What do you need to do before you switch?
You should consult with your pet’s vet before zeroing in on a dental diet. Dental diets are not always an effective alternative to brushing. A lot of factors can complicate it, including underlying health issues, your pet’s age and the current status of his gums and teeth.
Before you initiate a dental diet, your vet might even suggest a professional teeth cleaning among other procedures. If you are planning to switch to a dental diet, abstain from feeding extra treats or table scraps to your pet, as that will defeat the purpose. In the long run, it will benefit both of you.