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Identifying Effective Dental Treats

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Today during Irie and Tiki’s vet visit (it was Irie’s annual wellness exam but Tiki went along for the ride), we asked our vet about the dogs’ teeth. (Just like with humans, dog dental health plays a big part in overall health.) She said that both Irie and Tiki’s teeth looked good which was a big relief to us.

We’re not the only people concerned about our dogs’ teeth; a new study shows that in 2010, 43 percent of dog owners became more aware of dental health care options for their pet. The study also showed that last year, 77 percent of pet owners bought dental treats for their pet that they believed to have a positive effect on their pet’s teeth.

Like those other dog lovers, we buy dental treats for Irie and Tiki but had no idea that there is a special seal to look for when buying products that recognizes which products are effective on the breakdown of plaque and tartar. Just like the American Dental Association seal on human toothpastes and toothbrushes, for dog dental treats there’s a special Seal of Acceptance by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) that provides confirmation of efficacy of the product.

The VOHC Seal of Acceptance (photo, right) indicates that the product has met or exceeded the pre-set VOHC standards of efficacy in reducing dental plaque and/or tartar. GREENIES® Canine Dental Chews were the first brand of treats to receive the VOHC seal for both plaque and tartar control; its chewy texture allows teeth to sink in for maximum tooth contact for cleaning efficacy.

“There are a variety of pet treats and foods that claim to clean teeth, but not all products provide significant benefit,” says Dr. Jan Bellows, a leading veterinary dentist, diplomate and president-elect of the American Veterinary Dental College, the administrator of the VOHC. “The VOHC seal confirms a product is efficacious in reducing buildup of plaque and tartar, the leading cause of oral disease, which can reduce a pet’s healthy lifespan. Walk into any pet store and you will find dozens of treats that claim to clean teeth. While it’s easy to make teeth-cleaning claims, formulating a treat that significantly protects teeth is difficult. The VOHC seal is there to help pet owners and veterinarians recognize which products are proven to work.”

How Treats are Tested: The VOHC’s product testing protocols are similar to those of human medical trials that use a control and test group. For dental treat trials in dogs, for example, both groups utilize dogs with clean teeth that are fed a dry food diet, while only one group gets a daily dental treat. Plaque and tartar buildup are measured after 30 days and, if the test group shows significantly cleaner teeth, the seal is awarded to that treat.

Paris Permenter
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