The VOHC Seal and Your Pet

Dog dental products

What is the VOHC seal?

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) concept was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Veterinary dentists recognized that there were many products being marketed to improve the dental health of pets. However, there was not an objective means of recognizing which products actually worked. As a result a panel of veterinary dentists and representatives from several veterinary organizations agreed upon a protocol for testing effectiveness of plaque and calculus retardants in dogs. (Note that some products have the seal for just plaque reduction or just tartar reduction, while others have the seal for both.) The official launch of the VOHC took place in 1997. A protocol for cats was added in 1998. You can now find the VOHC seal on a variety of pet oral health care products.


Why should you care about the VOHC seal?

You should care about the VOHC seal because the development of plaque and calculus are part of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease affecting teeth and their supporting structures. Importantly, it is the most common disease diagnosed by veterinarians in both dogs and cats. Every year, Banfield Pet Hospital publishes a “State of Pet Health Report” created by analyzing the medical data of 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats seen at their hospitals. In the 2016 report, is was reported that dental disease affected 68% of the cats in their study and 76% of the dogs.

I don’t know about you, but yikes, those are high numbers. As a small animal veterinarian, I fully agree with these figures. From mild amounts of tartar and gingivitis to teeth that are falling out of pets’ mouths, I diagnose dental disease on a regular basis. Just like people, the best treatment for dental disease is good preventative care. Brushing daily and regular teeth cleaning can prevent that mild tartar from ever developing into a more serious disease.

How serious is periodontal disease?

Just read some of the information from the American Veterinary Dental College:

Effects within the oral cavity include damage to or loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth, development of a hole (‘fistula’) from the oral cavity into the nasal passages causing nasal discharge, fractures of the jaw following weakening of the jaw bone, and bone infection (‘osteomyelititis’). Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and are carried around the body. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Studies in humans have linked periodontal disease to a variety of health problems including poor control of diabetes mellitus and increased severity of diabetic complications. Additionally, it has been shown that diabetes is a risk factor for periodontal disease.

So why don’t we just brush our pets’ teeth and get them regular teeth cleanings?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a VOHC seal to help us determine which products are most efficacious. We would just treat our pets’ teeth the same way we treat ours. Except, don’t use the same toothpaste – you wouldn’t want your pet to swallow that. Realistically, however, this can be difficult for a couple of reasons.

First, all of our pets must rely on humans for their dental care. And lets face it, many humans are forgetful, busy, and struggle with training their pets to easily accept daily teeth brushing. Cat owners especially balk at brushing their pets’s teeth. They tend to tell me that it just isn’t worth the struggle of getting their cat to accept the brushing motion in the mouth. I personally have my dog trained to allow me to brush her teeth, but have opted for regular dental cleanings on my cat. The regular dental cleanings are worth it to me in lieu of training him to accept the tooth brush. Don’t let this paragraph dissuade you though. If you are interested in brushing your pets teeth, I highly recommend it! Check out this great article by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Secondly, routine dental cleanings in pets requires routine anesthesia. Many pet parents have realistic fears and financial constraints surrounding anesthesia. In a healthy pet, the risks of anesthesia are very small. However, I can understand the desire to attempt to reduce the amount of anesthesia an animal undergoes in his or her lifetime.

As a result, many pet parents look for alternatives to teeth brushing. They still want to reduce the build-up of dental plaque and tartar. After all, the slower the dental disease progresses, the less frequently a dental cleaning under anesthesia becomes necessary.

This is where the VOHC seal comes in handy!

For most of us, it is important to know that the product you purchase works. Especially when it comes to our pets health. When I pick out dental care products for my pets, the VOHC seal makes the process a lot easier. In the store, I always check for the seal. More often I will research products ahead of time. In that case I often check out the VOHC’s list of approved products to help me find new products that have been approved to bear the seal.

Dog dental products

There are definitely products out there that have done research on their product but are not approved for the VOHC seal. Take Hill’s Oravet chews for example. I am hoping Hill’s takes the necessary steps to obtain the seal in the near future. However, if you want a quick reference to find good products that are backed by research studies, let the VOHC seal be your guide.

Glia’s favorite product with a VOHC seal

Glia is a heavy chewer with a stomach that tolerates most treats. We love the Purina Veterinary Diet Dental Chewz. They take Glia several minutes to consume and help reduce tartar build-up while she enjoys a low-calorie snack.


For my readers who have made it this far: Let us know how you care for your pets teeth in the comments section below.


Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

14 thoughts on “The VOHC Seal and Your Pet

  1. Great info. I had no idea about the VOHC seal. And yes, I do remember my vet telling me that dental care was important because not taking care of oral hygiene can lead to complications and illness in your pets. So it’s vital to be on top of things.

  2. I wasn’t aware of the VOHC seal; it’s great to know there is a way to determine whether a product will be effective against dental disease. My dog had his teeth cleaned under anesthesia a few years ago and had to have a few teeth pulled. Since then I’ve been much more proactive about his dental health.

  3. We take dental health very seriously. I didn’t know about the VOHC seal, I will be on the lookout for it the next time I am at the store. Luckily, the Goldens love to get their teeth brushed!

  4. Wow, I had never heard of the VOHC seal before! This is great information. I will have to check out the dental products we have in our house for both our dog and our cats. And I agree, dental health is very important.

  5. Great info. Layla does not like any dental chews and only buries them all over the house LOL. I have never heard of the VOHC seal but I love the products I use and her teeth are pearly white. I use the Tropiclean in her water, the Tropiclean gel for her teeth and my vet is very happy 🙂

    1. I have never heard of Tropiclean. I will have to look into it. It is always nice to have more options for the dogs that don’t want to chew the chews 🙂

  6. I didn’t know anything about the VOHC seal! That’s awesome. Since we switched to a raw diet, our dogs’ teeth have never been cleaner. All that chewing and bone is great to helping to “brush” away plaque and buildup.

    1. I had heard great things about the Oravet chews and wanted to love them, but Glia chews them to fast. I think she honestly bites them into like three pieces which she then swallows whole. The good thing is that the Oravet Chews are easily digestible even if ingested in big bites. But for the dogs that actually take the time to chew them, they are such a neat product!

  7. I didn’t know about this but kudos to them for recognising something needed to be done so people had a flagged product to reassure them of its quality. I know if I was in the US I would want this kind of quality check.

  8. This is certainly one criteria to consider when choosing a dental product for one’s dog. For me, such things are not the Bible, because I like to seek natural approaches but it is something to consider particularly when thinking about looking at products.

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