Periodontal disease is a prevalent canine ailment, affecting around 80% of dogs aged three and older. It typically commences as gingivitis, marked by red and inflamed gums that may bleed. If left untreated, it can escalate to periodontitis, which causes progressive damage to the alveolar bone, leading to loose or lost teeth. Furthermore, periodontitis is a known risk factor for other health issues such as cardiovascular and lung diseases.
One of the primary culprits behind periodontal disease in dogs is inadequate oral hygiene, resulting in the buildup of plaque and tartar. Veterinarians often advise dog owners to brush their pets’ teeth regularly. However, compliance with this recommendation is often low due to the difficulty of the task or uncooperative dogs.
Dr. Jerzy Gawor, a veterinary dentistry practitioner and researcher at the Arka Veterinary Clinic in Krakow, Poland, and the lead author of a recent study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, has made a significant discovery. “We have found that adding a pomegranate extract-based supplement to a dog’s drinking water can effectively reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar,” Dr. Gawor stated. “This additive promotes healthy gums in dogs and may ultimately help in reducing the incidence of periodontal disease.”
This study involved a researcher-blinded randomized trial of an over-the-counter oral hygiene product known as Vet Aquadent FR3SH, which can be conveniently added to a dog’s drinking water. This product is manufactured by the French veterinary company Virbac, with Dr. Celine Nicolas as the final author.
Dr. Nicolas explained, “Our decision to conduct this study was based on evidence suggesting that the primary ingredient, pomegranate extract, inhibits the growth of oral bacteria in dogs in laboratory settings, including those species associated with periodontal disease. Additionally, there is evidence that the other components, inulin and erythritol, also contribute to maintaining a healthy oral microbiome in dogs.”
Dogs at the dentist
Dr. Gawor and his team conducted a comprehensive study tracking the development of plaque and tartar in 40 dogs exhibiting mild to moderate gingivitis, all in overall good health. This investigation spanned a 30-day period following a single professional dental cleaning session. The dogs represented a diverse range of 14 breeds, from petite Yorkshire terriers to robust Alaskan huskies.
With the dogs placed under general anesthesia, their oral health was thoroughly evaluated. This assessment included periodontal probing, dental charting, and mouth radiography. Subsequently, the dogs underwent a comprehensive dental cleaning and polishing procedure to eliminate all traces of plaque and tartar.
The 40 dogs were then randomly divided into two equal groups. One group received the additive, dissolved as a 1% solution in freely available drinking water, daily for the entire 30-day duration. The other group, serving as the control, received plain water. Notably, none of the dogs had their teeth brushed or received any additional oral hygiene interventions throughout the course of the study.
At the conclusion of the 30-day period, the researchers assessed the dogs’ gum health and measured the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
Inhibits reformation of plaque and tartar
Following the dental cleaning and polishing procedure, the study’s results revealed notable improvements in the dogs who received the daily additive. They exhibited a remarkable 47% reduction in plaque buildup and a substantial 24% decrease in tartar accumulation compared to the dogs in the control group. Furthermore, the dogs in the treatment group displayed completely healthy gums.
Consequently, the authors of the study concluded that Vet Aquadent FR3SH can effectively limit the reformation of plaque and tartar subsequent to a professional dental cleaning.
Dr. Gawor and his research team proposed a potential mechanism of action for this positive outcome. They suggest that the additive’s efficacy lies in its ability to hinder the proliferation of harmful bacteria, particularly by preventing the formation of bacterial biofilms.
Dr. Gawor emphasized the importance of daily oral hygiene and preventive measures in averting periodontal diseases in dogs. This encompasses active practices like regular brushing, passive methods such as dental chews or water additives, or a combination of these approaches. Additionally, he highlighted the significance of routine clinical dental assessments, with the frequency determined by factors like the dog’s age, breed, size, and predisposition, as assessed by veterinary clinicians.