By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs develop gum disease by the age of three years. Common signs of poor oral health include bad breath, excessive drooling, loss of appetite due to oral discomfort, and teeth discolored by tarter build-up. Bad breath is often the most obvious sign, and products with natural breath-freshening ingredients, such as anise and chlorophyll, can improve that condition. However pet parents can help their beloved companions enjoy optimal dental health by focusing on the cause of Fido’s offensive smells, in addition to relieving the more noticeable symptoms.

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean from plaque build-up plays an important role optimal dental health. Chewing is a natural form of tooth cleaning and most dental health products available for dogs are based solely on the abrasive action of chewing something. Having dogs chew a product that holds together well enough to clean the entire tooth can help prevent dental problems. Newer, chewier formats are beginning to emerge to do this, as well as allow active ingredients to adhere to the teeth and go to work.

In addition to chewing, more complete dental products add active ingredients to go to work on what causes poor oral health in dogs. One such natural ingredient is green tea. Research from the past decade has demonstrated that a number of substances in green tea can support tarter reduction in multiple ways. Green tea has been shown to kill the bacteria that cause dental caries, inhibit the activity of the bacteria that live below the gumline, and block the attachment of germs to the teeth. Polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties, so they reduce gum disease, also known as gingivitis. Finally, green tea helps fight off the erosion of tooth enamel.

Keeping your dog’s breath fresher starts on the inside. Poor digestion can often be a factor leading to bad breath. A natural ingredient pet parents will find in more complete dental products is the digestive aid FOS (fructooligosaccharide). FOS is a prebiotic that feeds the naturally-occurring bacteria of the dog’s digestive tract, helping to relieve bad breath. FOS is found in some digestive aids for pets.

Pet parents have a number of tools to help their companions maintain good oral health as he or she ages. Breath freshening, chewing, tarter-control, and digestive support will all contribute to healthier teeth and gums. In addition, kisses from your pet will smell much better!

Grin dental health soft chews are available at your favorite independent pet store and include chlorophyll, anise, green tea and FOS in a chewy format.