Dental Care Is Preventative Care – Even for Companion Dogs

We get it. Brushing your companion dog’s teeth is not the most pleasant activity.

We also get it that routine veterinary dental cleanings done properly can be expensive. To dispel any myths, dental cleanings are NOT a ploy by veterinarians to increase their revenue.

Both practices – brushing your dog’s teeth and routine dental cleanings – are important preventative care, as periodontal disease in all species can lead to many other systemic disorders, if not controlled.

How do you know brushing and dental cleanings are preventative care? From published and ongoing research.

Research has shown that periodontal disease in dogs is linked to increased risks of liver disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer in dogs.

A 2009 study compared 59,296 dogs with periodontal disease to the same number of dogs with no history of periodontal disease. The study revealed that cardiovascular conditions such as endocarditis and cardiopathy were linked to the severity of periodontal disease.

A similar comparative study from 2011 demonstrated a significant association between periodontal disease and chronic kidney disease.

Compared to humans, dogs are even more prone to periodontal disease. Why? Because their mouths are less acidic, which promotes plaque formation. Compounding that, many dogs are not having daily brushings, or regular preventive dental care starting in early adulthood.

If you think your dog is in the clear, look at the prevalence. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 80% of dogs over 2 years of age have periodontal disease. Additionally, many dogs with periodontal disease do not express oral pain, although they often have foul smelling breath.

Preventative Measures

Yes; there are specially designed chews, treats and raw bones, as well as a variety of Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved dental products, that can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. While these products are not replacements for a daily brushing and dental cleanings, the VOHC listed products are proven to be helpful in reducing the biofilm buildup and plaque on the teeth.

A practical choice is the VOHC-approved water additives and gel products that are specially designed for dogs and cats.

By the way, we do not recommend using rawhide chews at all.


We, at Hemopet, do not recommend or suggest specific products. To be completely transparent, W. Jean Dodds has helped with the testing of products that meet and have been accepted by the VOHC.

If anything, we recommend that you make sure the product you choose is an accepted product by VOHC. Products have to meet certain requirements and complete dental trials to meet VOHC’s rigorous standards.

Do we use and prefer all of the VOHC-accepted products? No, but, please remember that the VOHC program requires companies to demonstrate that their products help control plaque or tartar by completing two trials that are reviewed in support of this claim. We support the standards, thresholds and testing protocols established by the VOHC.


Glickman, Lawrence T et al. “Association between chronic azotemic kidney disease and the severity of periodontal disease in dogs.” Preventive veterinary medicine vol. 99,2-4 (2011): 193-200. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.01.011,

Glickman, Lawrence T et al. “Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association vol. 234,4 (2009): 486-94. doi:10.2460/javma.234.4.486,


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