Monday, April 13, 2009

PetzLife Oral Care (Leba III)

I was really happy when I saw this new ad for PetzLife.  It no longer claimed to remove tartar (which I felt was really misleading) and the price had dropped dramatically.  Unfortunately, this was only done by one vendor and only as a Google Ad. 

I did my own case study with what I felt was an ideal test subject:
One of my dogs came to me when she was 6 or 7 years old with what I considered "compromised" oral health.  The pet homes she had been in had only provided status quo oral care; irregular brushing, monthly scaling (in lieu of daily brushing) and regular anesthesia dentals with extractions.  She arrived with inflamed gums, recession and loose teeth.  We did an anesthesia dental and had to remove most of her incisors.  Several of her teeth had a lot of recession but were still tightly seated in the bone so we opted to save them for as long as possible.  These teeth are more difficult to keep clean and I have noticed further gum recession on them over the years but most are still stable.  (She did eventually have to have the rest of her incisors pulled)

This now 11 year old dog has a negligible amount of tartar on the insides of her molars and I was looking forward to it disappearing completely by brushing daily with PetzLife instead of my regular unflavored dental gel.  After 9 weeks I saw NO DISCERNIBLE DIFFERENCE.

I used the spray once on my other dog (10 years old) with perfect teeth and gums after she ate something disgusting and her gums went bright red which I attributed to the grain alcohol content or a reaction to one of the other natural ingredients.

Some observations, comments and questions:
Perhaps these products are effective at removing larger chunks of old tartar, especially with breeds that produce a lot of saliva, have loose lips and uncrowded teeth.  I have no way of testing that, and personally, I think it is healthier to remove huge chucks of tartar as soon as possible.  In the before photos provide by PetzLife there is clearly soft plaque that can be removed by immediately by mechanical means (simple tooth brushing with water).  None of the after photos show perfectly clean teeth.

The common major ingredient (after water) in PetzLife and Leba III is alcohol.  Alcohol in human mouthwash has been proven to dry out saliva and to be a poor or inconsequential substitute for mechanical (brush and floss) plaque removal. It can also be harsh and burning to gum tissue.  Alcohol based mouthwashes are only considered effective at cosmetically masking bad odor for 10 minutes.

Most dentists will tell you that a major preventative measure in reducing bad breath is to drink plenty of water to promote saliva production as saliva itself has natural antibacterial qualities.  Okay, so alcohol dries out the saliva but these products state that they mix with saliva and get coated on the teeth by the tongue.  Too bad we can't teach our dogs to swish and spit because their tongues are not touching the gum line of all areas of their mouth!

My final verdict: It's no miracle product but they do score points for say best application is by daily brushing.  They lose points for using anesthesia risk as a fear tactic to sell their product.  Get your dog's teeth cleaned as appropriate for their condition and brush daily with a regular doggy dental product.