Keep Your Pets SMILING!

by Preventative Care

Meet Rufus, Mr. Smiles, Mr. Healthy Teeth!

Dental disease is one of the most common problems diagnosed in both dogs and cats. Only 32 dog and 12 cat dental products are deemed effective enough to be recommended by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council).

Here are some ways to maintain your pet’s oral health with VOHC-approved products:

  1. Tooth brushing – No product can beat daily brushing. Brushing is by far the BEST tool to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.  Brushing removes that sticky biofilm called plaque, preventing the formation of rock-hard tartar.  Tartar can safely scraped away but only by a qualified veterinary professional.  I tell clients to simply use a soft human toothbrush (infant size for small dogs) and brush the forward-facing surface of the teeth.  You don’t even need to use pet paste (but it does help).  Avoid human toothpaste.  PetSmile Toothpaste (Supersmile) with calcium peroxide (Calprox) is the only VOHC-approved pet toothpaste.  It costs $25 and is available on
  2. Tooth brushing.
  3. Tooth brushing. I’ve made my point.
  4. Waxy polymer application – This polymer creates a barrier to reduce plaque, thus tartar. OraVet Plaque Prevention Gel enables quick and easy at-home application. Starting two weeks after a thorough dental cleaning, you apply the gel weekly along the gingival margin using an applicator.  It takes less than a minute.  Yup, find it on  You can also ask your vet for this product!  It’s about $25.
  5. Water additives – There are hundreds of water additives on the market. Only one gets a thumbs-up from the VOHC:  ESSENTIAL™ healthymouth™ anti-plaque water additive for dogs and for cats, and it’s NOT available on amazon.  You can purchase direct,
  6. Soluble zinc salt gel – These gels act as antibacterial agents decreasing plaque formation and bad breath. MAXI/GUARD Oral Cleansing Gel is approved by the VOHC and is safe for daily use.  It works with or without brushing.  Maxi/Guard Oral Cleansing Gel (Addison Biological Laboratory) is available on for about $14.
  7. Soluble dental chews – These treats remove plaque or tartar mechanically—rubbing and scrubbing it away. E.T. VeggieDent Chews are touted to be highly palatable, vegetable-based chews…free of animal protein and wheat gluten.  There are a little pricey; about $25 for 30 chews on
  8. Dental Chews with Delmopinol – Delmopinol is an anti-plaque agent, which help to keep plaque from sticking to the teeth. OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews are the only product with delmopinol.  My only critique is dogs and cats don’t use front teeth (incisors) to chew so these front teeth may not benefit.  These are PRICEY!  $30 to $50 for 30 chews, depending on your pet’s size.
  9. There are a few more options for cats: FELINE GREENIES™ Dental Treats and PURINA Pro Plan Dental Crunch Cat Snacks.  But, you’re supposed to give about 17 treats a day, so factor in the extra calories.  These are available in pet stores everywhere.
  10. Lastly, dry food does NOT help clean plaque and tartar. Studies from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’60s showed that dogs who ate dry food had better oral health than did those who ate canned. These studies have been debunked over and over.  However, there is ONE dry food approved to address tartar with its special formulation; Hills Prescription Diet t/d Dental Health is available for both dogs and cats.  However, I rarely recommend Hills diet products as the ingredients are sub-par, in my opinion.


Thanks Rufus (Pharaoh hound pictured)!

For a complete list of VOHC recommended dental products, check out

I hope you found this helpful.

Feel free to contact me with questions:

Cynthia Hervatic, DVM