Dental News

No Smiling Matter: Pets' Teeth Suffer From Neglect

Nov 15, 2001 DAYTON, Ohio, Nov 15, 2001 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Does your pet smile? Are you doing what you should to protect that smile? A new Gallup survey shows that, while most pet owners believe their pets smile (65 percent), they aren’t doing their part to take care of their pets’ teeth. This is despite the fact that owners say they know how important dental health is to their pets’ overall health.

The survey of more than 1,000 pet owners was conducted by The Gallup Organization on behalf of The Iams Company. It found that two-thirds of pet owners understand dental health is important to their pets’ overall health. Still, only one in five has ever brushed their pets’ teeth.

This month, Iams is taking a giant step toward helping pet owners care for their pets’ smiles with the introduction of the new Eukanuba(R) Dental Defense System(TM) across its entire dry adult Eukanuba Dog & Cat Foods product line. Eukanuba Dental Defense is the result of months of research into improving the dental health of pets. Studies conducted by Iams at the Universities of Mississippi and Indiana found that Eukanuba Dental Defense can reduce tartar build-up by up to 55 percent in dogs and up to 45 percent in cats.

“Eukanuba Dental Defense packs a `one-two punch’ that will greatly help pet owners properly care for their pets’ teeth,” said Dr. Dan Carey, a veterinarian and Director of Technical Communications at Iams R&D. Dr. Carey explained that, while other dental products simply feature a crunchy kibble that scrapes off some plaque while the pet is eating, Eukanuba Dental Defense is proven to work while the pet is chewing the kibble and afterwards, when the micro-cleansing crystals slow the formation of tartar. “We believe this significant upgrade to the entire Eukanuba product line will help millions of dogs and cats have better oral health,” he said.

To maintain optimal dental health, Dr. Carey recommends pet owners follow the “Three Ds” – Dentistry, Daily brushing, and Diet. While Eukanuba Dental Defense will make it easier for owners to follow the last step – diet – the Gallup survey results indicate that owners still have a long way to go to provide total dental health for their pets.

According to the survey, 63 percent of pet owners have never had their pets’ teeth professionally cleaned. Their biggest concerns about professional dental cleaning are the expense (19 percent) and the risks and possible complications of anesthesia (12 percent).

The poll finds even more room for improvement with brushing. Of the 22 percent of pet owners who ever brush their pets’ teeth, only one in 10 brush daily, four in 10 brush weekly, and 20 percent say they brush only a few times a year.

While their actions don’t support it, pet owners are correct in considering their dog’s or cat’s dental health important to the pet’s overall health. Dental issues are the top disorders seen in private veterinary practices, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that approximately 85 percent of dogs and 75 percent of cats have dental issues, including plaque and tartar build-up, which can lead to more serious health concerns, such as periodontal disease, infection, and organ failure.

“Dental health goes way beyond `doggie breath’ – it is a huge issue with pet owners,” said Dr. Carey. “That’s why we have worked so hard to develop Eukanuba Dental Defense.”

Dr. Carey said the Iams R&D team has been working for over a year to bring dental enhancements to the Eukanuba Dog & Cat Food lines. After Iams was acquired by Procter and Gamble (P&G) in 1999, the company hired a lead researcher from P&G’s Crest toothpaste brand to head the dental research team. Using a proprietary patent-pending manufacturing method, The Iams Company introduced Eukanuba Dental Defense into the complete line of dry adult and senior Eukanuba Dog & Cat Foods, available at all pet specialty stores, as well as into Eukanuba Veterinary Diets(TM) Nutritional Joint Maintenance Formula(TM) Senior Plus(TM) therapeutic diet which is sold only by veterinary clinics.

About The Iams Company

For more than 50 years, The Iams Company has led the industry by providing world-class quality nutrition for dogs and cats. For more information about Eukanuba Dental Defense or about proper pet care and nutrition, call The Iams Pet Professionals at 1-800-863-4267 or visit Iams on the Web at

About The Gallup Survey

The Gallup Organization survey results do not imply an endorsement of any product or service. The results are based on 1,002 interviews conducted during August and September 2001 with adults who report being a caregiver for a dog or a cat. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.