Reviewing many studies shows that dry food (kibble) does not clean a cat’s teeth any better than eating pretzels cleans ours!
At best: Dry food may tend to produce slightly less tartar than canned food.
However, for cats the benefits of feeding canned food may outweigh possible dental problems that may result. After all, it’s much easier for your vet to clean your cat’s teeth once a year than to treat diabetes, urinary tract problems or other diseases that may be caused or aggravated by feeding regular dry cat food.
I do love the simple truth and very wise words of Bronwyn Reijnders (BSc (Hons) – departmental tutor at the University of Pretoria, SA. Areas of expertise: Animal Science and Agriculture:
I find it common sense that commercial diets don’t promote dental health. Dogs and cats have plaque and sewer breath, while wolves and lions have pearly whites.
In the wild, both facultative (canine) and obligate (feline) carnivores chew the hide/feathers, sinew and bone of their prey. This keeps their teeth clean and provides some minerals and indigestible fibre.
To a large extent, I blame poor feed. The vast majority of kibble is grain based and utterly inappropriate for dogs and cats dietary requirements. Aside from that, grains are mostly carbohydrates… SUGARS, providing a ready energy source for oral bacteria to grow.
There is a reason kibble is brittle and shatters: it considers the lack of ability of dogs and cats to chew. Doubtful? Anyone who has ever given a jelly tot (or similar) to their pets knows this. The dog or cat will make exaggerated chewing motions, usually opening their mouths wide, licking their chops repeatedly and salivating. Amusing to observe but illustrating the point. We eat those sweets with ease, grinding our molars to crush them and using our tongues to dislodge them if they get stuck. Dogs and cats cannot do this.
When dogs and cats “chew” kibble, all they are doing is breaking a big lump into manageable pieces. If it was presented in small enough crumbs, they would just lick it up and swallow.
She goes on to say:
Noticeably in humans, when we eat small particles we still chew, even if it’s just a little. Dogs and cats are designed to swallow larger chunks whole, while we are designed to homogenize whatever we put in our mouths.
The reason for this is physiological:
nutrients are easier and faster to obtain from animal material (meat) than plant material.
Mashing up the foods allows omnivores and herbivores to extract maximum nutrition from their plant-based foods by providing maximum surface area for the digestive enzymes to function.
Plant cells have tough “walls” protecting their contents, while animal cells do not. In a nut shell (no pun intended), the plant cell’s contents are what provide the nutritional value, so any animals that get their nutrients from plants need to be able to break those cell walls down. Hence, herbivores have have flat, grinding, surfaces to their teeth. Carnivores don’t face that problem, so a simple slicing mechanism is sufficient for their needs
Any kibble that relies on grinding action to clean the tooth surface of a carnivore is ignoring the basic, fundamental anatomical and physiological characteristics of that carnivore, thereby deeming it less than effective.
That is why we love PlaqueOff Animal for cats. Safe and effective, it removes plague and tartar buildup regardless of the food you feed your cat (or course, we always advocate a biologically appropriate cat food fit for any carivore)
Learn more about PlaqueOff Animal for your cats
Linda P Case (Teaches companion animal science at the university of Illinois)
Dr. Fraser Hale (Veterinary dental specialist)
Jean Hofve (Veterinarian)
Dr Steven J Bailey (Veterinarian – Founded Exclusively Cats Veterininary Hospital in 1995)
Bronwyn Reijnders BSc (Hons) – Tutor at University of Pretoria – Animal Science and Agriculture