Why should I select dental chews and treats earning VOHC approval?

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Dental treats may provide benefits to your pet’s oral health, but using them comes with precautions. Some may be more effective, or safer, than others; the unsafe ones can cause broken teeth, irritated gums—or are just a waste of your money.

However, some types of pet dental treats and diets can reduce plaque by nearly 70 percent, because just the mechanical action of chewing can make a difference. In one study, increasing the diameter of kibble by 50 percent led to a 42 percent reduction in tartar. In the same study, coating the products with a substance called polyphosphate further reduced tartar by 55 percent. It prevents plaque from turning into tartar by isolating calcium on teeth, but they aren’t all created equal. Some are more effective or safe than others.

To be sure you’re getting the best type of dental treat, always select a product that has received the Seal of Approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), an organization that evaluates pet products to see if they meet standards for reducing plaque or tartar.

According to VOHC, approved foods, treats and chews must reduce plaque or tartar by at least 10 percent to achieve the VOHC seal of approval. If a chemical anti-plaque agent is used, it needs to reduce plaque or tartar by at least 20 percent. Go to https://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm to see which products have received the VOHC seal of approval.

VOHC recommends that all of the products on its VOHC Accepted list be used as recommended by the manufacturer and that treat products are given when the pet can be observed by the owner. Almost all cats (and dogs) enjoy the chewing action and taste of palatable treats, and typically spend a few minutes chewing the product rather than bolting it down whole or in large pieces. If your pet does not chew the product thoroughly, discontinue use of the treat.

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