Metro Pets

By Sharon Gomes Thomas

Nothing is better than puppy kisses, and if you’re a pet parent, you let your dog or cat lick your face. But how many times a day does your pet brush her teeth? I brush my teeth a minimum of twice a day, three if I’ve had an especially tasty lunch. Darby my dog, on the other hand, she gets her teeth brushed maybe every month or so, if I remember (I know, I’m bad). And a few months ago, I took her to the vet to get a good cleaning – the visit cost me a week’s salary!

Taking care of your pet’s teeth is very important, considering that an alarming 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. According to vet Arnold Plotnick, founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists, a cat only veterinary facility on the UWS, dental disease can potentially damage organs such as kidneys. And bad teeth and gum health can lead to other serious heart and liver issues too.

The easiest solution to good teeth comes in a simple box. Yes, it’s pet treats. The crunchier the better. And Hartz, the popular makers of pet products have a very good product that does triple duty – it cleans, protects and gives your dog great breath. Crunch ‘n Clean (the name is pretty straight forward) comes in three sizes for dogs and three flavors for cats – Bold Beef, Rich Salmon and Savory Chicken.

These biscuits have a crunchier texture than other biscuits for a longer chewing time, allowing for more plaque removal. It also has DentaShield, which shares a key ingredient with human toothpaste, and protects against tartar.

Darby has never been a treat hound, and she is very picky about her biscuits. So when I gave her one of the Crunch ‘n Clean biscuits, I half expected her to sniff at it. Imagine my surprise when she actually gobbled down a few of them. Hartz claims that dogs prefer it 2 to 1, so maybe there’s some truth to that, at least with my dog. Crunch ‘n Clean Dog Biscuits and Crunch ‘n Clean Cat Treats are available at all pet stores.

If you want to brush your pet’s teeth the old fashioned way, i.e. wrestling with a squirmy animal, then check out the Baking Soda Deep Cleaning Toothpaste by Drs Foster and Smith. My vet shared a little trick with me – he said that using a toothbrush, a special pet one or otherwise, is more difficult. Instead, wrap some plain gauze around your index finger and use that as a pseudo-toothbrush. You have better control. Or you can go to the Drs Fosters and Smith website, where they have a How-To video clip to pick up a few pointers. http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com

Clean teeth leads to fresher breath – a simple tagline for toothpaste commercials. For your pet, it also means less vet bills.

Originally published June 2009
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