ORLANDO—After a hiatus of many years from the veterinary realm, Milk-Bone, a subsidiary of Del Monte Foods in San Francisco, splashed back onto the scene during the North American Veterinary Conference with an announcement that it will be launching Milk-Bone Brushing Chews starting in March.
The product, which has earned the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance, has been shown to be as effective as brushing a dog’s teeth twice per week when fed daily, based on the reduction of tartar and halitosis.
On hand to discuss the news was dvm360 contributor Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, who made the point that while veterinarians have become very good at treating oral health problems, “we haven’t figured out this whole brushing thing yet.” For example, Bellows said, “I love my German pointer so much I’d give him both my kidneys—but I don’t brush his teeth.”
And despite the best educational efforts of veterinarians, most pet owners don’t brush their dogs’ teeth either, Bellows says. The result? More than 80 percent of dogs develop periodontal disease by 3 years of age, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society.
Milk-Bone Brushing Chews will provide veterinarians with a solution to these compliance concerns regarding at-home dental care for dogs, says Geoff Tanner, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Foods. Here are some key details about the product:
> The packaging, designed to mimic a box of toothpaste, includes a statement urging dog owners to visit their veterinarian for a yearly veterinary dental checkup. Other materials state, “The veterinarian is your pet’s dentist”—perhaps an obvious statement for veterinary professionals but not always clear to pet owners, product developers say.
> The chew is in the shape of a bone with a 75 degree twist and features nubs and ridges designed to clean down to the gum line like the bristles on a toothbrush, reaching even the back teeth.
> Testing has indicated that the product is palatable to 99 percent of dogs, that the average amount of time dogs spend chewing the treat is two to four minutes, and that the chew is 85 percent soluble.
> Chews for small dogs will be less than 65 calories per treat; chews for large dogs will be less than 100 calories.
> The suggested retail price will be $4 to $5 per box, with 14 mini chews in a box (available in March), seven small/medium chews per box (available in March) and five large chews per box (available later in 2014).