Pioneering trial leads award-winning vet to recommend daily brushing for best dog dental health

Following his involvement in a major UK study into canine dental health, the findings of which were revealed in the first episode of Trust Me I'm A Vet on BBC TWO last night (03.05.17), Ross Allan, a partner in The Pets’n’Vets Family network of veterinary practices, recommends that daily tooth-brushing is the best, and most reliable way to control plaque accumulation in dogs.

dental health nessie family

Allan, the 2017 BSAVA Melton Award winner for contributions to small animal practice, predicts that the results of this study will expand the evidence that underpins the advice veterinary practices can give their clients.

He said: “The Pets’n’Vets Family was delighted to be invited to contribute to the ‘Trust Me I’m a Vet’ show, seeking to increase the evidence on how best to look after and treat pets. Working with Norman Johnston (Specialist Veterinary Dentist) and Dr Vicki Adams (Epidemiologist) we sought to design and perform a study that we thought could make a real difference to dog health.

“Our patients matter the most to us, and before we did anything the study was assessed and approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Ethics Panel.

“Gum infection and disease (periodontal disease) is the number one infectious health problem in small animal patients, with up to 80% of dogs having some degree of periodontal disease by only three years old. This has a big effect on oral health and can be a factor in disease developing around the body.

“No previous studies have directly compared these three methods of plaque control within a well-designed study – we thought this needed to be done!

“Each dog was scaled and polished prior to becoming involved in the study, and then randomised’ into one of three groups. We then measured the plaque accumulation on their teeth after six weeks.

“We predicted that there would be a difference between the three different groups, but just how much we didn’t know – we wanted to find that out!”

The study was ‘blinded’ to reduce bias and also strengthen the study’s design to thoroughly investigate which of three daily methods was best to control dental plaque: tooth-brushing using veterinary toothpaste; a leading canine dental chew and a leading canine ‘dental’ diet.

The results showed that tooth brushing was up to three times more effective than the dental chew or diet, which were both of similar benefit. Ross added: “A further point was that chews and diet groups showed considerable variation in plaque control from dogs within the same group. Tooth brushing was shown to be far more reliable in its impact – as well as up to three times more effective.

“The conclusion of the study is that if owners wish do their best to maintain a healthy mouth, control the plaque that causes gum disease and reduce the risk of other diseases around the body – brush their teeth!

“Apart from the fact that brushing is a more effective method to control plaque, the owner is in complete control over which teeth are brushed and how often. For chews and diets, the dog decides which teeth are in contact.

“Brushing daily is the gold standard. Adding a specific dental chew or diet may assist plaque removal but is not a substitute for brushing.”

The findings of the study has prompted The Pets’n’Vets Family network of veterinary practices, with surgeries in Glasgow and surrounding areas, to launch the Tooth Furry Dental Club to clients: an innovation in client education seeking to assist clients to improve and maintain good oral health for their pets.


For further information please contact Ross Allan or Oliver Jackson at tel 0141 649 4949

Issued on behalf of Pets’n’Vets by Liquorice Media tel 0187 738 2961

Date: 3 May 2017

Notes to Editors

• The Pets’n’Vets Family is a collection of veterinary practices. Glasgow’s own vets, run by Glaswegians, it is a small and friendly partnership, with surgeries around Glasgow and surrounding areas.

• Because the Pets‘n’Vets Family is run by animal lovers, its vets understand just how special their pets are to their clients. It aims to offer the best local service, care and value with no gimmicks or tie-ins – just excellent vet care.

• The Pets‘n’Vets Family has been caring for Glasgow’s pets for over 40 years and its practices are all Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Accredited. To find your nearest practice visit

• For further information on Trust Me, I’m a Vet, please see: