The role diet plays in feline oral and dental health

The role diet plays in feline oral and dental health

Your cat’s diet plays an important role in his oral and dental health. Like humans, cats require a certain level of care to keep their teeth in tip-top shape. If you consume sugary, processed foods and forgo brushing, you can expect your teeth to suffer for it. The same goes for your four-legged friend. That’s why it’s recommended for cat owners to do a little research on the various dietary products that are available to ensure optimal feline oral health.

Wet cat food versus dry cat food

There’s some debate over whether dry food or wet food is better for cats. On one hand, dry food can supplement your cat’s dental hygiene routine, as it can help strengthen teeth and scrape away plaque. On the other hand, wet cat food is often recommended for cats with kidney problems, as it has a higher moisture content. Additionally, cats usually find wet food to be more palatable. Many pet owners avoid choosing one or the other, instead switching between the two.

Many pet-food producers manufacture veterinary-approved feline dental diets.

Most hard-kibble dental diet products are larger in size and have a texture that fragments easily. The broken edges of the kibble pieces scrub away plaque as the cat chews and augment regular toothbrushing. The Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website provides details about chews, foods and other products whose efficacy and safety have been tested, so you can be confident that they really can help reduce your cat’s buildup of plaque and calculus. Be careful when choosing a dental chew for your cat, and avoid items such as raw animal bone products. These items can easily pick up potentially harmful bacteria and parasites. Also, bone can splinter and become wedged in your cat’s gullet, and could lead to broken or cracked teeth. Though dental diets do not suit every cat’s digestive system, it’s reassuring to know that feeding “regular” large kibble and a daily dental chew will help keep your pet’s mouth healthier than it might be otherwise.

Water and food additives

Along with specialized diet products and dental chews, there are several water-soluble oral care supplements on the market. These products generally contain dextranase and mutanase enzymes that are designed to break down plaque biofilm, together with enzymes, which can help prevent tartar formation. These products are designed to be added to your pet’s water bowl, allowing a small amount to be consumed each time your cat takes a drink. Additives also help kill any microorganisms that may be lurking on the surfaces of the water bowl itself. Similar dental health supplements are also available in powder form that can be sprinkled on your cat’s regular food once a day.

Can providing your cat with a “raw” diet help prevent periodontal disease?

Some studies have suggested that obesity and dental issues may be associated with feline diets consisting of highly processed pet foods. Such problems can largely be attributed to the high levels of sugars and simple carbohydrates that many processed pet foods contain, both of which provide a readily available source of nutrition for oral bacteria. To combat these issues, some recommend introducing a “raw” diet of muscle meats, bones, organs, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and dairy. Raw diets have been fed by many professional cattery establishments for years. But, very few pet owners feed their cats an exclusively “raw” diet. There are also risks involved in feeding “raw.” Meat, poultry, and eggs are frequently contaminated with microorganisms that could be harmful to cats when ingested. These bacteria, including salmonella, can also pose a risk to cat owners during the food-preparation process and when cleaning up cat waste. In addition, cats can be at risk of choking on splintered bones. Further, feeding “raw” can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies if the cat’s food is not correctly formulated and supplemented, potentially creating more health problems than you set out to prevent! In the absence of any definitive scientific evidence that feeding “raw” is beneficial to your cat’s periodontal health, caution should be taken if you do decide to take this route. Regardless, you should always discuss any drastic dietary changes that you are planning on making for your pet with your vet before you go ahead and implement them.

Diet plays an important role in your cat’s dental and oral health

  1. Feeding your cat a proportion of large kibble or a vet-approved dental diet product can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on his teeth.
  2. Giving your cat a dental fibrous chew every day can also help remove plaque.
  3. Supplements can be added to your cat’s food and water to help kill plaque-forming bacteria.
  4. Feeding your cat a “raw” diet does not guarantee better oral and dental health.
  5. Always ask your vet for advice before changing your cat’s diet, even if you are intending to feed your pet a vet-approved dental diet product.
  6. Good feeding practices cannot replace your cat’s regular dental and oral health checkups!
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