A series of educational pet nutrition blogs written by pet experts, just for pet parents.

Brushing Up on Dental Health Care

Posted on 02.15.2024

February is Dental Health Month, and not just for humans. Taking the proper steps to guarantee your pet’s dental hygiene can help not only keep bad breath at bay, but also keep teeth and gums healthy and disease-free for years to come.

How Can Oral Care Prevent Disease?

Effective oral care is one of the most important aspects in preventing periodontal disease in your pets, and discussions of its relevance remain front and center in discussion for many pet parents. In a clinical study done by the Journal of Small Animal Practice, of the 98 dogs that were evaluated, 84% of dogs aged 3+ years already had early signs of periodontal disease.

The National Library of Medicine cites periodontal disease (PD) is one of the most prevalent oral inflammatory diseases in dogs. PD onset begins with the formation of dental plaque, a form of polymicrobial biofilm, on the surface of the teeth, followed by a local host inflammatory response. This is triggered when bacteria infiltrates the subgingival space and produces ammonia and volatile sulfur compounds, which lead to halitosis (bad breath) and the production of enzymes or toxins that activate a pet’s immune system.

Research also shows that periodontitis is associated with pathological changes in the kidney, heart, and liver.

In short, even if a pet’s front teeth look pearly white, that doesn’t mean damage isn’t lurking beneath the enamel or in the back of the mouth. Bleeding gums and bad breath are also symptoms of dental disease.

The Good News - Oral Care and Plaque Prevention

The good news is that preventing PD and bad breath in pets can begin right at home with a few small but meaningful changes.

The prevention and removal of dental plaque can be achieved by a combination of dental hygiene homecare procedures including tooth brushing, the application of different oral products and the use of specific diet and chew toys.

  • Toothbrushing: Just like for humans, toothbrushing is the first and most obvious way to promote daily plaque control and removal. Specifically, the bristles and motions of brushing promote mechanical disruption of the dental plaque, being considered the gold standard method for PD control and prevention. 

  • Oral Products: Chemical plaque control agents also can be helpful in preventing plaque from building up at the source (literally). These compounds interfere with biofilm composition and metabolism, therefore disrupting its formation on the tooth and in the mouth. These agents come in gel, powder and paste format, but also in chews as well.

  • Diet Changes: Food texture and its nutritional composition play a two-part role in the development and prevention of PD. For example, dry food promotes a mechanical abrasion in the dental surface, reducing dental plaque accumulation and calculus formation, while soft food such as the home diet is frequently associated with higher PD incidence. Furthermore, an adequate nutritional composition is essential to maintain the oral tissue integrity. 

    • Looking for feedback on your pet’s food and nutrition? Treats Unleashed offers free online pet food consultations! Just tell us a little about your dog or cat, and one of our trained pet food experts will provide you with some recommendations based on your pet’s needs. Click here to learn more, or visit to submit details and get your professional feedback.

  • Chew Toys: Like the mechanical movement that brushing provides to help prevent plaque build-up, the act of gnawing on chew toys, biscuits and bones can be included in your pet’s daily home dental care regimen for the same reason. Their structure and materials can help stimulate salivation and teeth abrasion, assisting in the removal of the dental plaque.

Dental Health deals this month at Treats Unleashed:

  • Get 15% off all Tropiclean FreshBreath products for the month of February. This line of products includes:

    • TropiClean Fresh Breath Finger Brushes for Pets

    • TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Health Solution for Dogs

    • TropiClean Fresh Breath No Brushing Clean Teeth Dental & Oral Care Gel

    • TropiClean Fresh Breath Mint Foam for Pets

  • Ark Naturals - Get $2.00 OFF bags of Ark Naturals Original Brushless Toothpaste Dental Chews 

    • Comes in Mini, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large sizes.

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