Dear Kara: Dental health (Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition)
Is it necessary to begin talking about dental health in pets less than a year old? It seems like tartar doesn't begin forming in most dogs and cats until after their first year.
The healthcare team should discuss dental health in pets at every age. At six months, most puppies and kittens have their full adult dentition and should have an oral examination to check for any abnormalities or problems, such as retained deciduous teeth. Plaque and tartar have started to form and will continue to accumulate without proper periodontal therapy and homecare. Also, it is best to start training pets to accept oral hygiene at a young age. Handling the mouth, introducing a brushing device, and application of oral hygiene products should be part of routine puppy and kitten training. Preventing and treating periodontal disease is important to the pet's overall health and may affect the length and quality of a pet's life.In healthy dogs and cats with mild dental tartar, do you recommend Hill's® Prescription Diet® t/d® Canine or Feline pet food in combination with brushing, or is it only recommended for more severe cases?
There are a number of products with dental claims and this seems to confuse owners. What can I tell clients who are looking for a product with a dental benefit?
Tell your clients about the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), a group established to provide an independent, objective, and credible way to recognize veterinary dental products that effectively control plaque and tartar. The VOHC system is recognized worldwide and is similar to the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance system in human dentistry.
The VOHC reviews results of tests performed in accordance with approved protocols set by the council and awards a seal for control of plaque, tartar, or both plaque and tartar. It is important to look for the seal controlling plaque or both plaque and tartar, as plaque is the first step in developing periodontal disease. The first dental products to receive the VOHC Seal of Acceptance were the Hill's® Prescription Diet® t/d® Canine and Feline pet food formulas. For more information and a complete listing of products that have been awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance, visit http://www.VOHC.org./