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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Right Toothpaste

Sam asks this question...

At my puppy’s first vet visit I was given instructions on how to brush my dog’s teeth and a couple of sample toothpastes. I am almost out of the samples, so I stopped by PetSmart the other day to pick up some more and was a bit overwhelmed at the varieties (vanilla-, mint-, beef-flavored, “Natural”, and even some advertising they contain fluoride). They did not have the brand my vet uses (CET). Of course I know not to use human toothpaste for dogs, but now I am wondering: what ingredients to look for and what ingredients to avoid. Is the kind my vet uses better and if so, how? Any insight you have in regards to this issue would be greatly appreciated.

First, Sam, I have to commend you for working on brushing your dog's teeth.  Regular dental care will help prevent periodontal disease and keep our dog healthy.  This is something that not many people do consistently, but those that do will find their pets live longer, have lower risk for certain diseases, and will save money on expensive dental medical bills.

Personally, I don't see much of a difference between brands of toothpaste, and don't recommend one particular kind.  I do recommend one designed for pets, as the human kinds foam excessively and can cause nausea.  The basic function of tooth paste is to provide a safe but slightly abrasive substance that can be used to remove plaque from the teeth.  Many will also have enzymes that can help reduce tartar formation.  

Even with human toothpastes there aren't a lot of significant differences between brands.  Some may whiten teeth, have breath fresheners, or other gimmicks, but they all do the same basic thing....clean teeth.  All of the flavors and extras are mostly marketing tools and tricks.  Pet toothpastes are similar, in that they all do the same basic job and differences are usually minor and designed more for the owner than the pet.  I am familiar with the CET brand, and it's a very good company.  But I think that you can do just as good with other kinds.

So Sam, here's my advice.  Find a toothpaste that is reasonably priced and that your dog likes and stick with that. You don't have to worry about a specific brand or reading the labels in detail.