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Preventing Oral Health Problems in Cats and Dogs

Blog

2 February 2021

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Keeping your dog or cat’s teeth clean is a crucial component of maintaining their overall health. Did you know that some form of periodontal disease is reported over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3? It is one of the most common diseases observed by veterinarians and is reaching epidemic proportions. Every dog and cat can be affected to some extent during their life. If untreated, periodontal disease can have many secondary health consequences such as abscesses, facial swelling, inflammation and deterioration of the bone, ocular disease, and nasal disease. Here are some tips and tricks you’ll need to know to help prevent your dog or cat from developing oral health problems.         

Why Do So Many Dogs and Cats Have Periodontal Diseases?

The simple answer is pets don’t have the ability to brush their own teeth daily, and pet parents often overlook the importance of doing it for them. Scientists believe that continuously fighting the chronic bacterial infections that accompany periodontal disease can take a serious toll on a pet’s immune system over the course of their life. Although certain breeds are more prone to dental problems, all cats and dogs are at risk without proper oral care. Dogs and cats with “flat faces” are especially prone to periodontal disease. They have the same number of teeth, yet less space to fit them, leading to overcrowding and often crooked teeth, and making it easier for food particles to become trapped. Small dogs are also more at risk as they have a lower ratio of bone to teeth in their lower jaw when compared to large breeds, therefore the deterioration of the bone in small breeds has a larger impact.

Periodontitis starts with the accumulation of plaque on the teeth that is not removed. Plaque deposits are aggravated by bacteria. These bacteria not only cause bad breath, but damage the gum tissue, connective tissue and eventually the bone. The good news is that plaque can be removed by abrasion. But, if left untreated, it will harden into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a tooth scaling at your veterinarian, a process for which the animal will need to be anesthetized.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

The early symptoms of periodontal disease are very subtle and can even go completely unnoticed which is why it is so important to make your pet’s oral health a priority. More advanced periodontitis may present symptoms such as:

  • Bloody saliva
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Avoiding being touched on the head
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge
  • Loss of teeth
How Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?

Once plaque has started to develop, it will constantly form. While it is almost impossible to remove all plaque, providing a quality dental food and regular brushing can drastically slow its formation by physically removing bacteria and existing plaque. 

The Importance of Brushing

Where prevention is concerned, brushing your pet’s teeth regularly really is the gold standard. Dental diets are a great way to help maintain healthy teeth however, dogs and cats often only chew with their molars making it hard for dental kibbles to target the teeth located at the front of their mouths. Brushing will help ensure all teeth are cleaned.

Recommended: Nutrience Care Oral Health formula for cats and Nutrience Care Oral Health formula for dogs
 How Often Should I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

Ideally, brushing your pet’s teeth should be done once a day. Cats and dogs love routine, so if you can establish a routine to brush your pet’s teeth at the same time every day, they may be more receptive.

It is best to get your pet used to the toothbrush and toothpaste by introducing it slowly. Start by showing your cat or dog the toothbrush and touching it to their mouth. Don’t forget to reward them with treats after each step!

Tips on How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

Place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger or the toothbrush and let them lick it off. It is important to always use toothpaste specifically designed for pets and not for humans. Human toothpaste can be toxic and is never recommended for companion animals. We recommend using a cat or dog toothpaste containing an enzyme to help fight plaque-causing bacteria. There are a variety of toothbrushes available on the market. Use a toothbrush that is easiest and most convenient for you to manipulate.

Gently brush your cat or dog’s teeth by moving the toothbrush in circular motions on the teeth, paying special attention to the gum line. The abrasive rubbing action is what will remove plaque and help prevent periodontal diseases such as gingivitis.

You may give your cat or dog breaks, as not to overwhelm them, rewarding them for their patience with positive reinforcement including kind words and treats.

It may take time for your cat or dog to adjust to brushing, but don’t give up! Two minutes of brushing per day is much more agreeable for your pet than suffering through periodontal disease or anesthetized teeth cleanings at the vet.

Unlike human toothpaste which contains fluoride and detergents, toothpaste intended for animals does not need to be rinsed away, so once you’re finished brushing, you’re all done!

What You Should Look for In A Quality Oral Kibble

Whether your pet is healthy and you are looking for a form of prevention or your pet is currently suffering from oral health issues such as gingivitis or halitosis (bad breath), all dogs and cats can benefit from a dental kibble. Start by looking for a formula that includes a larger kibble which will prolong chewing time to help mechanically clean teeth and fight plaque and tartar.

Dog and cat dental formulas such as Nutrience Care Oral Health are specifically formulated to help clean teeth during mealtime. Nutrience Care® Oral Health is formulated using Denta Crunch™ technology: an oversized kibble, designed to encourage your pet to chew thoroughly, made with a unique blend of insoluble fibers that creates an abrasive, brushing effect as they chew. This mechanical action will help clean your dog or cat’s teeth, maintain good oral health, and fight plaque and tartar build-up.

  • Fights Plaque & Tartar: Denta Crunch™ technology is designed to help mechanically clean teeth and fight plaque & tartar and oversized kibble prolongs chewing.
  • Brushing Effect: Unique blend of insoluble fiber creates a “brushing” effect as your cat chews.
  • Freshens Breath: Helps freshen breath and controls halitosis
Nutrience Care for dogs

Most dental formulas on the market use cellulose as a source of insoluble fiber. Nutrience Care Oral Health uses a natural grass called Miscanthus. Miscanthus grass is a sustainably farmed perennial plant that is purposefully harvested for its insoluble fiber. Compared to cellulose, it requires far less processing. Cellulose is a by-product of the pulp and paper industry; wood chips are chemically digested to obtain cellulose present in the plant’s cell wall. Miscanthus grass is simply sun-dried and ground before being added to the food.

Stay Clean-50 is another ingredient added to Nutrience Care Oral Health. Stay Clean-50 is a Vitamin C derivative that inhibits the growth of plaque causing bacteria. It is extremely soluble in saliva. Because of the large kibble size, the animal will have more saliva from chewing, allowing Stay Clean-50 to readily dissolve and do its job properly! Most dental foods rely on sodium hexametaphosphate, a chemical that prevents plaque from calcifying into tartar. By targeting bacteria rather than tartar, Stay Clean-50 attacks the root of the problem.

As part of its promise to support pets’ general wellbeing, Nutrience Care Oral Health is also designed to promote optimal gut health with DIGESTIBOOST, an inclusion rich in soluble, insoluble, and prebiotic fibers.

Prevention is the best medicine which is why it never hurts to get an early start on a quality dental diet. Plus, many dogs and cats enjoy the extra crunch!

And although Nutrience Care Oral Health can help contribute to good dental health, it does not replace the importance of regular brushing and dental checkups with a veterinarian.

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Oral Care reminders:
  1. Brush or wipe their teeth clean, especially near the gumline, once a day as much as possible;
  2. Follow your veterinarian’s advice and have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned when recommended, especially if there are signs that plaque and tartar may be accumulating below the gumline;
  3. Offer them treats in the form of dental chews and bones.

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References:

Case et al. Canine And Feline Nutrition. 3rd ed., Mosby, 2011, pp. 437-449.

Royal Veterinary College University Of London, 2020, https://www.rvc.ac.uk/review/Dentistry/Shared_Media/pdfs/perio_print.pdf. Accessed 10 Nov 2020. “STAY-C 50, Special Form Of Vitamin C In Support Of Dog And Cat Oral Care | Home – DSM Animal Nutrition & Health”. Dsm animal nutrition, 2020, https://www.dsm.com/anh/en/feedtalks/petfoodtalks/stay-c50-vitaminc-oral-care.html. Accessed 10 Nov 2020

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