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Dr. Geri Katz

Does a kibble a day keep the dentist away?

There is a growing and accurate perception that wet food is better for cats than dry food.  However, I am still surprised at the number of cat owners that tell me their vets for years had recommended a diet of dry food only for their cats.   The reasoning, I believe, was that it was better for their dental health. The thought was that the mechanical forces of chewing a kibble would act to scrape tartar and plaque off the tooth, and over time, this would continue to have a beneficial effect.  There is one problem with this theory, however, and that is that dry food is typically very high in sugar.  Carbohydrates are almost always required to produce dry kibble.   As we know from our own health, sugar negatively impacts dental health, and I believe that similarly it negatively impacts our feline friends.  The best thing we can do to improve the oral health of our cats is to brush their teeth.  This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.  If a cat will chew on a toothbrush, then he is brushing his own teeth.  What I suggest to my clients is that they start introducing the idea of a toothbrush to their cats by placing chicken baby food, fish juice or anything else that the cat finds irresistible on the toothbrush and have the cat lick it off.  As the cat becomes used to this routine, the owner can start to physically introduce the toothbrush into the cat’s mouth.  The idea is that the cat will start chewing down on the toothbrush for the desired food taste.  Once the cat starts accepting the toothbrush as a glorified “chew toy,” the desired food can gradually be replaced by pet safe toothpaste.  (Never use human toothpaste for your pet.)  There are dry foods on the market that serve a similar purpose.  Unfortunately though, a diet of dry food contributes to obesity, diabetes, and potential urinary tract problems since it contains high sugar levels and does not provide enough fluid intake for our feline friends.   Wet food is almost always lower in sugar, helping to avoid obesity and diabetes, and provides for sufficient fluid intake to keep their kidneys happy.Image

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