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FAQ PNA Prevention “Is feeding dry food the best way to prevent dental disease in dogs and cats?” – Pet Nutrition Alliance

FAQ PNA Prevention “Is feeding dry food the best way to prevent dental disease in dogs and cats?”

From PetNutritionAlliange.org

Answer:

  • No. Unfortunately, there is a lack of long-term research providing evidence that any one method, including a dry dental diet, is “best” for preventing dental disease (i.e. gingivitis, periodontitis).1
  • Dental disease is even more complicated because there isn’t a clear relationship between the amount of plaque and calculus on the teeth and the severity of the gingivitis or periodontitis associated with it.1 Simply, a reduction of plaque and calculus may not result in a significant reduction of gingivitis or periodontitis for dogs and cats.
  • Therefore, mechanical debridement from foods or products that claim to simply reduce plaque or calculus formation cannot guarantee the prevention of dental disease.1
  • Current recommendations:
    • Research shows that tooth brushing is the most effective way to prevent dental disease. It provides mechanical stimulation of the gingiva, which enhances proliferation of fibroblasts and collagen synthesis. Brushing contributes to good dental health by preventing periodontal pocket formation and promoting epithelial attachment.1 Twice-daily brushing shows the greatest benefit in dogs,2 although once-daily brushing in dogs is adequate.3 For cats, there is evidence to suggest that daily tooth brushing reduces gingivitis.4
    • If a pet owner is unable or unwilling to brush their pet’s teeth daily, then it may require a combination of therapeutic strategies to reduce the risk of dental disease.5
      • For dogs: feed diets clinically proven to reduce plaque and calculus development and provide multiple chewing activities.5
      • For cats: feed diets clinically proven to reduce plaque and calculus formation6 and provide chewing activities.1
    • Dental diets may use a number of strategies to reduce dental disease. Mechanisms that might be used  are:
      • Mechanical abrasion
      • Inhibition of calculus formation (i.e. sodium hexametaphosphate-HMP)
      • Antibacterials (sodium ascorbyl phosphate)
      • Plaque retardants
  • Regulation:
    • Foods that claim to cleanse, freshen, or whiten teeth by mechanical action or abrasive action do not need pre-market approval and are permissible by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).7
    • If these types of claims are achieved by any other way (i.e. drugs), they must be approved by the FDA prior to going to market.
  • Options for oral health products:
    • The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) lists pet diets and products which may help in oral health.8 The VOHC provides a current list at vohc.org/accepted_products.htm.

Citations:

  1. Cave N. Nutritional Management of Gastrointestinal Disease. In: Fascetti AJ, Delaney SJ eds. Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 1st ed. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012: 188-192.
  2. Yamamoto T, Tomofuji T, Ekuni D, Sakamoto T, Horiuchi M, Watanabe T. Effects of toothbrushing frequency on proliferation of gingival cells and collagen synthesis. J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Jan;31(1):40-4.
  3. Horiuchi M, Yamamoto T, Tomofuji T, Ishikawa A, Morita M, Watanabe T. Toothbrushing promotes gingival fibroblast proliferation more effectively than removal of dental plaque. J Clin Periodontol. 2002 Sep;29(9):791-5.
  4. Ingham KE, Gorrel C, Blackburn JM, Farnsworth W. The effect of toothbrushing on periodontal disease in cats. J Nutr. 2002 Jun;132(6 Suppl 2):1740S-1S.
  5. Harvey CE, Shofer FS, Laster L. Correlation of diet, other chewing activities and periodontal disease in North American client-owned dogs. J Vet Dent. 1996 Sep; 13(3):101-5.
  6. Vrieling HE, Theyse LF, van Winkelhoff AJ, Dijkshoorn NA, Logan EI, Picavet P. Effectiveness of feeding large kibbles with mechanical cleaning properties in cats with gingivitis. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd. 2005 Mar 1;130(5):136-40.
  7. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2011 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. 2011: 144-145.
  8. Helping to Control the Most Common Disease in Dogs and Cats: Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease). Veterinary Oral Health Council Web site. http://www.vohc.org/. Accessed April 26, 2013.

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