Is Your Cat's Dry Food Causing Decay?

  • by RawRoar
  • 17 Jul, 2017

Do biscuits clean teeth?

We often read online that crunching biscuits helps to clean cats' teeth; yet despite the majority of cat owners now feeding some dried food, i t is thought that as many as 85% of cats aged three years and older have some sort of dental disease ( 1 ).

Clearly this is a problem for more than just elderly cats, the big question everyone should be asking is why.

First, is it even logical biscuits clean teeth?   It's comparable to suggesting wolfing down half a packet of Hobnobs will give us humans pearly whites.  Simply eating something hard doesn't clean teeth - particularly if you have massive canines that cut through biscuits like a knife through hot butter.   For this theory to even be on the table, cats would have to chew their biscuits.

Cats (unlike humans) don't chew food to mix it with saliva before swallowing.  The acidity of their gut is such that saliva and mastication would destroy their teeth.  Instead cats only use their teeth to rip something small enough to be swallowed whole - their digestive system takes care of the rest.

This means kibble is swallowed not chewed.

Teeth Brushing?

What actually cleans teeth is gnawing meat from bones and chewing large chunks.   Watch any cat eating these foods and you will see (and hear) their teeth at work.

In 1965 a study explored feeding raw chunks, versus raw minced meat versus tube feeding.    The group that had minced meat had more plaque and gingivitis than those who had cartilage and chunks of muscle meat; however the group that were tube fed had more than those who ate mince - suggesting some protective effect even from mince (Egelberg et al).

Bacteria

In humans dental disease is linked with the types of bacteria that live in the mouth; what we eat influences both the bacterial species that live there and the acidity level.   Different types of bacteria also thrive at different acidity levels, so I wondered how this compared to cats.

 I could only locate one study that explored the oral bacteria profile of cats in relation to diet.  Researchers fed one group kibble and one a combination of wet/meat.  

"Cats fed a dry diet exclusively had higher bacterial diversity in their oral microbiome than wet-food diet cats ( p  < 0.001). Amongst this higher diversity, cats on dry-food diets had a higher abundance of Porphyromonas  spp. ( p  < 0.01) and Treponema  spp. ( p  < 0.01)."

What does this mean?
Porphyromonas  spp. are carbohydrate-fermenting bacteria.  In dogs they're associated with plaque formation and gingivitis ( 2 ).     Porphyromonas  spp. are also especially common in bite and skull bone infections ( 3 ).
 
Treponema  spp are linked with gum disease ( 4 )

Vitamins

The other link with food and teeth is vitamins.  we discussed in a previous blog how vitamin and mineral levels impacted on overall health, and how inflammation such as IBD could hinder the uptake of vitamin D in foods potentially resulting in deficiency.

Tooth resorption  is a painful disease with a prevalence of up to 75% in household cats and is often accompanied by periodontitis.   Research has found that both low vitamin D, and inflammation-induced stimulation of the vitamin D pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of tooth resorption in cats.  The same study also suggested the bacterial profile is likely to also play a role, including bacteria like Porphyromonas spp ( 5 ).

Which brings us full circle back to dried food.

Roar Raw

by RawRoar 17 Jul, 2017
We often read online that crunching biscuits helps to clean cats' teeth; yet despite the majority of cat owners now feeding some dried food, i t is thought that as many as 85% of cats aged three years and older have some sort of dental disease ( 1 ).

Clearly this is a problem for more than just elderly cats, the big question everyone should be asking is why.

First, is it even logical biscuits clean teeth?   It's comparable to suggesting wolfing down half a packet of Hobnobs will give us humans pearly whites.  Simply eating something hard doesn't clean teeth - particularly if you have massive canines that cut through biscuits like a knife through hot butter.   For this theory to even be on the table, cats would have to chew their biscuits.

Cats (unlike humans) don't chew food to mix it with saliva before swallowing.  The acidity of their gut is such that saliva and mastication would destroy their teeth.  Instead cats only use their teeth to rip something small enough to be swallowed whole - their digestive system takes care of the rest.

This means kibble is swallowed not chewed.
by RawRoar 13 Jul, 2017
Due to the glorious weather across the UK recently, there has been much discussion online about helping cats through the heat.

I was surprised to read how many noted their cats vomited or didn't eat well when the temperatures soared, after all we're always hearing cats originate from the desert.

 What confused me more is that we didn't experience any issues from the heat,despite the fact one is a long coated and extremely thick, fluffy feline; on the contrary they both basked in the sunniest and hottest room (on back legs akimbo to help keep themselves cooler) despite repeated attempts to lure them out. 

I mentioned this to a vet friend of mine and after a chat I decided to dig more.  I'm quite shocked at what I found and think it should be more widely shared with pet owners.
by RawRoar 29 Jun, 2017
Single protein feeding is something frequently discussed online, and when it comes to cats that generally means chicken.

Whilst the general consensus is multiple proteins are needed, some raw feeding group on Facebook disagree; instead they argue variety is "optimal" not "compulsory"
by RawRoar 03 Jun, 2017
Many of us have had it drilled into us you should  never  feed bones to your pets, and they're absolutely right that you should never feed cooked bone to your pet.   They splinter easily even when chewed appropriately and can become lodged in a cat's throat or stomach.

Raw bones however are a different ballgame.

Whereas many of us are used to seeing the image above, many of us forget our  domestic cats are basically tiny lions .

Whereas humans have molars (creating a flat surface for grinding plant materials),  along with canines  - cats have a completely different configuration.
by RawRoar 17 May, 2017
They informed their Facebook readers that when you dehydrate fresh meat (a process which involves removing water from food), the resulting product contains less water.
by RawRoar 09 May, 2017
What the TV programe did:
As an experiment  they swabbed a dog owner's (unwashed) hands, the dog's tongue and the dog's bowl following a raw meal.  They did this in association with Liverpool University, who claim to have an unpublished study showing the following:

 "The faeces of 114 dogs fed a variety of raw diets and 76 fed cooked diets (which includes kibble and tinned) were tested for the presence of some pathogens known to be harmful to human health. The percentage of dogs carrying antibiotic-resistant E. coli and Salmonella was significantly higher in the raw-fed cohort of dogs, compared to the cooked-fed cohort."    

As a result of this the authors claim:
 "This suggests that the spread of resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine is encouraged through the feeding of raw food diets, and supports existing research that there is a higher risk of coming into contact with potentially harmful pathogens if you feed your pet a raw food diet. " (BBC Scotland)
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