Product Guidance

The labeling terms “supports oral health” or “supports dental health” are not regulated and any product labeled to treat a condition is drug and must be tested and assessed as such. This leaves the market in a quandary when assessing products that are truly useful in homecare maintenance. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) authorizes the use of the VOHC Registered Seal on products intended to help retard plaque and tartar on the teeth of animals. VOHC exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted by groups and individuals according to VOHC protocols. The VOHC Seal is displayed on products that have been awarded the Seal and a current list of products that bear the seal can be found at

Pet Dental Specialists - Products designed to be chewed

How to Introduce Brushing

Pet Dental Specialists

Once the teeth are professionally cleaned, routine home care programs are more effective. Daily brushing is recommended as the most effective home care treatment available for our pets. A soft, nylon-bristled human toothbrush is recommended. Human toothpaste is AVOIDED because it may contain fluoride and detergents that are harmful if swallowed. A toothpaste for dogs and cats is recommended.

Develop a routine in a comfortable area of your house for you and your pet. Gently lift the lips and handle the mouth to allow your pet to become comfortable.

To introduce brushing:

  1. For the first week, allow your pet to lick a small pea-sized drop of toothpaste off your finger; immediately follow with a treat and praise.
  2. In the second week, allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush; immediately follow with a treat and praise.
  3. The third week, rub the CET toothpaste on your pet’s front teeth with the toothbrush on the table in view; immediately follow with a treat and praise.
  4. In the fourth week, begin brushing the outside surface of the teeth with the mouth closed; reward with a treat and praise. Begin by placing a toothbrush between the lips and outside surfaces of the teeth with the mouth closed. It may help to only do a small area of the mouth one day at a time. Do not force while brushing. The toothbrush is placed at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and, using a circular motion, the outside surfaces of the teeth are brushed.

Choosing a Chew

Products designed to be chewed by animals may occasionally cause intestinal problems or injury if not appropriate for the animal, if not used as intended by the manufacturer, or as the result of some other cause, so we recommend that animal be observed while they are chewing a dental treat or chew. Additionally, chew treats often come in different sizes. Please be sure that you feed the right size product to your dog, and observe the dog the first few times that she or he is given the chew – do not continue to give the chew if the dog takes one bite and swallows it – chews work best when the dog obtains at least a couple of minutes of chewing time when given the chew. The chewing action is more important that the total time spent chewing. An example being that some treats are typically consumed rapidly while still providing significant plaque removal benefits; giving a larger than recommended chew will not increase the benefit and could increase the risk of a complication by the pet swallowing a piece of the chew that is too large.

Many chew toys are available in the market place and it is impossible to discuss all the potential toys and all the potential dental and gastrointestinal hazards. There is always risk in life and no chew toy may be perfect for each pet. Some toys may not interest your pet. Some toys may hurt your pet if swallowed. Some chew toys may fracture your pet’s teeth.

The tooth is a living structure with the pulp tissue inside. The pulp contains the nerves and vessels that extend out to the margins of the tooth. If the enamel and dentin is fractured off the tooth, the inside of the tooth can be exposed. This results in pain and infection in the tooth. If the pulp inside of the tooth is exposed, not only will pain result, but the tooth will require treatment. The only two treatment options are endodontic treatment (e.g., root canal treatment, vital pulpotomy) or surgical extraction.

If a chew toy is so hard that injury would result if you were hit with it, it will have a tendency to break your pets’ teeth. Our dog’s dentition are designed for carnivore diet and their muscles of mastication (muscles to close and open the mouth) are very strong. Additionally, the occlusion (bite) of their cheek teeth is such that they are sectorial – cutting. Therefore, when a very hard object is between their teeth and they bite it may cause the tooth to fracture before their muscles tire out. Hard chew toys such as, but no limited to, antlers, butcher bones, hooves, hard pressed rawhides, and hard nylon style bones are known to fracture teeth. Toys such as fuzzy tennis balls may also act as an abrasive on teeth and wear the tooth substance quickly resulting in exposed pulps.

  • Pet Dental Specialists - Products designed to be chewed
  • Pet Dental Specialists
  • Pet Dental Specialists
  • Pet Dental Specialists
  • Pet Dental Specialists
  • Pet Dental Specialists
  • Pet Dental Specialists

Frequently Asked Questions

Antler is one of the toughest biological materials known.   The fracture toughness of antler has been reported to be ~ 50% higher is than that of bovine femur. Fracture of antler is extremely uncommon and typically occurs only when antler is pitted against antler.  If antler is pitted against teeth and the maxillofacial structures of the dog, the dog and its teeth will eventually lose.

If you bit hard and quickly into a butcher bone, what could happen? These natural hard substances are not designed to break. Likewise, similar synthetic chew toys have little resilience.

Every pet is a small child. Some may chew appropriately. Some may break a chew toy in half and quickly swallow it, resulting in gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) foreign bodies. Some may chew too aggressively. Anytime a new toy is introduced, supervision is necessary to be certain the toy is chewed appropriately and or not swallowed. Toys such as some rubber toys and pliable dental chews will be less likely to fracture teeth. Some chews and dental products have shown proven dental benefit ( Ingestible chew treats are available. Keep in mind the overall caloric content so that your pet does not gain weight and understand that every pet will have different chewing behaviors. Also, ingestible chew treats come in various sizes and your pet must be given the correct size. Always observe your pet the first time. If your pet takes a few bites and tries to swallow the chew, remove it immediately.

Resources for Clients

American Veterinary Dental College

American Veterinary Dental College®

The primary objectives of AVDC® are to determine the standards required for recognition of board certified veterinary dentists and to conduct the credentials review and examination procedures necessary to identify veterinarians who have reached the specialist veterinary dentist standard and earned the status of Board Certified Veterinary Dentist™ and Board Certified Equine Veterinary Dentist™.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council

The Veterinary Oral Health Council

VOHC exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols.

Pet Dental Specialists Vision

To develop the premier, privately owned specialty veterinary dentistry and oral surgery center in the Pacific Northwest offering individualized, patient centered, compassionate specialty care and service for life-long oral health in our patients. With a focus on education of clients, referring veterinarians, and internal team members in order to advance and improve oral care for all patients in the region and growth of Pet Dental Specialist team members while providing a balanced, healthy, supportive, open, and shared clinical working culture for all members of the Pet Dental Specialist team.