What is the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) and why does seeing the symbol on my pet's dental products matter?
VOHC exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) deceleration in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols. The VOHC does not test products itself and only does so with products that they have been asked to test by the manufacturers.
The VOHC Council consists of nine veterinary dentists and dental scientists with experience with scientific protocols and study design, and a non-voting Director. The Council members are appointed by the President and Board of Directors of the American Veterinary Dental College, which oversees the policies and procedures of the Council. The Council reviews submissions and recommends whether to award the VOHC Seal to a product.
The VOHC Seal is displayed on products that have been awarded the Seal. The first VOHC Seal of Acceptance was awarded in June 1998, to Hill's Pet Nutrition Canine Prescription Diet t/d, a product which we offer here at IVS.
Use of the VOHC outside the USA began in Canada, followed by Europe and Japan. The VOHC system is now recognized world-wide.
For the full list of products that have received the seal go to the VOHC website http://www.vohc.org/all_accepted_products.html
Pets are really good at hiding pain and discomfort - including dental pain. Although your pet may still be eating and drinking, they could be suffering from a dental infection or painful tooth. Often the only indication anything was wrong is when they feel better after they’ve recovered from a dental procedure.
Dental disease has been shown to allow bacteria in to the system and potentially to cause infections elsewhere in the body. More obvious signs that a dental procedure needs to be done include chipped or fractured teeth, gum abscess, stopped eating.
Pets, like people, suffer from periodontal disease, which is responsible for oral inflammation and infection. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation visible as reddening of the gums), and periodontitis (the loss of bone and soft tissue support from around the teeth). All of these things could make your pet a good candidate for a dental procedure.
Step 1: Dental Exam
If you suspect your pet needs a dental procedure, you can call and schedule an appointment with the doctor specifically to discuss their oral health. Our doctor also does an oral check during your annual wellness exam as part of the routine nose-to-tail exam they do. Then the doctor will discuss what your pet may or may not need, and will give you a cost estimate based on what they see during the exam. It can be very difficult to see everything, so there may be a change (more or less) that the doctor and technician find on day of the surgery.
Step 2: The Procedure
You will bring your pet in the day of surgery fasted - no food or drink from 11 pm the night before until your bring them in - unless the doctor or technician has told you otherwise. Your pet will be weighed, and placed in one of our kennels. Bloodwork (if requested) and a pre-anesthetic exam will be done by the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) overseeing the surgery. Once safely under anesthetic, they will have a full dental examination looking at every tooth above and below the gumline (dental x-rays). Then any extractions, cleaning and polishing will be done. Your pet will be monitored by the RVT overseeing the procedure for the rest of the day until they go home. The doctor or RVT will call you once your pet is out of surgery to give you an update and confirm the pick up time.
Step 3: Home
When you arrive at the pick up time the doctor will go over everything done and answer any questions. This is when she will discuss with you feeding directions, medications and timelines as well as things to keep an eye out for. The doctor or technician will call you the next day to see how the first night at home went. Two weeks after the surgery, we will have you back for a quick recheck to make sure everything is healing well.
Below are photos of a mouth before and after a dental procedure done by our doctor. That dog's breath was so much better after their surgery!
We strongly suggest brushing daily, as it is the most effective way to help keep your pet's teeth clean. In our hectic lives however, most people don't have the time to sit and brush their pet's teeth - but we do have time to give them a treat.
Companies have been making pet dental treats for a while, so there are many available on the market. Popular brands like Greenies and C.E.T. have studies to back their claims of tartar control and reducing plaque and calculus. Daily chewing on a proper dental chew can substantially reduce plaque and tartar by up to 69%. Read the fine print as there are a lot of claims but not necessarily the studies.
Many people offer their dogs bones and deer antlers as popular chew items. There is a risk of broken teeth or swallowing small pieces that can get stuck and cause intestinal obstruction. An easy tip is to follow the Knee-Cap Rule: “If you would not want me to hit you in the knee cap with it, do not let your dog chew on it!”
For dogs, we have found C.E.T. dental chews to be the most palatable and effective way to reduce plaque and calculus on their dog's teeth. There are different sizes of chews, and it is important to ensure you are buying the correct size for your dog. Too large or too small chews may provide a hazard, as with any rawhide product. The C.E.T.® Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs feature an exclusive Dual-Enzyme System. Made from select beefhide, C.E.T.® Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs work with the dog's natural chewing action to loosen tartar and provide clinically proven plaque control Helping keep teeth clean and breath fresh.
For cats, we carry the Greenies Feline in both chicken and catnip flavours. They have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council USA to help control tartar in cats with daily use. They have a unique shape and crunchy texture that's proven to reduce tartar.
If you think a dental chew is right for your pet's oral health, you can give us a call or come in and discuss with one of our friendly staff what would be best. We try keep the different chews and sizes on hand so you can quickly pop in and pick some up.