Patients with certain health conditions need extra oral care. In these animals, saliva can lose its protective properties, predisposing the pet to increased bacterial, fungal and plaque overload.

Saliva provides an effective barrier against drying and is primarily composed of water – but it also includes antibodies, enzymes and mucoproteins, all of which work to protect the teeth. Saliva reduces the pH of plaque waste products and limits tooth decay. It also flushes the mouth and clears food debris that would otherwise provide nourishment to the bacteria found in plaque. An overload of plaque can lead to halitosis, an increased risk of periodontal disease, tooth loss or even a systemic infection if bacteria is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Many health conditions and diseases, and even the medications needed to manage them, can affect saliva quality or flow and lead to xerostomia/dry mouth. These include: aging, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, pancreatitis, hypertension, FIV, anxiety disorders.

The following common medications used in the management of a variety of disorders can also causes salivary glands to reduce the quality and quantity of saliva:

  • Arthritis meds: NSAIDs
  • Anticonvulsants: Diazepam,
  • Antihistamines: Diphenhydramine, Chlorpheniramine, Hydroxyzine
  • Antihypertensives: Amlodine, Atenolol, Benzapril, Enalapril, Furosemide, Spironolactone
  • Anxiety meds: Amitripyline, Diazepam, Clomipramine, Fluoxetine
  • Incontinence meds: Phenylpropanalomine

In patients with health problems, such as those listed above, it becomes very important to pay extra attention to oral care. Oratene® Veterinarian Brushless Oral Care products can help manage xerostomia because they contain two complete patented enzyme systems backed by over 35 years of enzyme research. The enzymes work to replenish the protection and defense mechanisms found in healthy saliva, and to eliminate the offending bacteria and/or fungi while also rendering plaque biofilm water-soluble and unable to bind to tooth surfaces. Oratene’s gentle formulation provides soothing protection without harmful alcohols, xylitol or tooth-staining chlorhexidine.


Dr. Naomi Kirby is the Technical Services Manager for Pet King Brands Animal Health, Inc. (, makers of ZYMOX® Enzymatic Products for chronic ear, skin and oral conditions. She can be reached at