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I love my kitty to death but she has stinky breath! Does this have anything to do with the food I am feeding her? I switched her to Natural Balance about a month ago which she really likes and her fur is really soft, but since then I have noticed that she has bad breath (or maybe it is because she has recently taken to waking me up by licking my face so maybe I just have not noticed until now! :lol: ). Any advice??
Also, I have heard that dry food is good for cleaning teeth, but how much does the size of the kibbles matter? The Natural Balance kibbles are smaller than other foods she has been fed before.
Any other recommendations for keeping a cat's teeth and gums healthy? I bought a teeth brushing kit but she would not let me brush her teeth, so besides getting her teeth cleaned at the vet I am not sure what to do! Thanks in advance!
 

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bad breath

Since I'm lazy, I'm going to reproduce my reply to this same question from earlier today:

Dry food and tartar control treats do not clean the teeth. Period. The dry food myth is perpetuated by pet food manufacturers, IMHO because they make a much higher profit margin on dry than canned. Many studies have disproven it. The FDA considers tartar control treats "misbranded," that is, falsely labeled, but it's a "low regulatory priority" because they have better things to do than enforce it.

If your cat has stinky breath, it may be time for the vet to have a look. Most cats need a professional cleaning every year or two, if you're not brushing at least 3-4 times a week. Tartar build-up and decay can occur quickly and cause considerable problems if left untreated.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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Interesting, do you have links to any studies regarding dry food and teeth? I don't doubt you, I just want to educate myself, because there seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there.
Does anyone who cleans their cat's teeth often have any advice on how to do it? My kitty just would not sit still or keep her mouth open. I mean, if a once a year cleaning at the vet is good enough than I will do that, but I would like to try to clean her teeth more routinely.
Thanks!
 

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I sit down on my knees and place the kitty in between them. Then I gently hold his head from the top and lift his *lips* using my fingers and I brush with the other hand. I use the toothbrush the vet recommended with Frosty but Cheerio seems to be having a smaller mouth so I am using my finger for now. They got used to their morning routine...they have more difficulty accepting the brushing of the fur :roll:. I think they like the taste of the kitty toothpaste.

ps: talk to your kitty while you are doing it - how good she is,etc. - it won't take long...it is basically approx 15 seconds for each side :)
 

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I don't know if my cats like having their teeth cleaned by me but I will try it next time. I do know that my cats are both being fed Chicken Soup dry food and canned foods are split in half for both of them so they are eating the same exact things. Sugar does not have bad breath at all and Twinkie always smells like fish. Even after I got their teeth professionally done long time ago, after a few days it went back to the same kind of smell. I guess some cats just have worse breath than others. :p
 

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dry food and teeth

Tiggs, yes I do...I summarized a few abstracts on the tartar/diet issue for my alternative vet list, and I'm happy to share them with you!

Logan, et al., Dental Disease, in: Hand et al., eds., Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, Fourth Edition, Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute, 2000, p. 487. "Although consumption of soft foods may promote plaque accumulation, the general belief that dry foods provide significant oral cleansing should be regarded with skepticism. A moist food may perform similarly to a typical dry food in affecting plaque, stain and calculus accumulation...Typical dry dog and cat foods contribute little dental cleansing. As a tooth penetrates a kibble or treat the initial contact causes the food to shatter and crumble with contact only at the coronal tip of the tooth surface...The kibble crumbles...providing little or no mechanical cleansing...." She also reviews two studies on cat "dental" treats which showed "no significant difference in plaque or calculus accumulation with the addition of dental treats to either a dry or a moist cat food." Of course, this book was produced by Hill's, and is very pro t/d. BTW, although t/d provided a statistically significant improvement, when you look at the actual graphs, the difference between Dog Chow and t/d is not all that impressive.

"...when comparing dry food only and non-dry food only fed dogs...there is no pattern to the trends (some teeth show an apparent protective effect from feeding dry food only, and others show the opposite -- for calculus index, the trend is protective for all five teeth in dogs feed dry food only, whereas for gingival index it is the opposite, and it is mixed for attachment loss). All maxillary teeth are significantly less likely to be mobile in the dry food only group, yet the mandibular first molar tooth showed the opposite effect." Harvey et al., Correlation of diet, other chewing activities and periodontal disease in North American client-owned dogs, J Vet Dent 1996 Sept;13(3):101-105. Logan (above) assesses this study as follows: "In a large epidemiologic survey, dogs consuming dry food alone did not consistently demonstrate improved periodontal health when compared with dogs eating moist foods."

There is an excellent review of the literature by Watson ADJ, Diet and periodontal disease in dogs and cats, Aust Vet J 1994;71:313-318. This study is fully of interesting historical items. For instance, one study of cat skulls found evidence of severe periodontal disease in 25% of 80 cats; 75 of the skulls were dated from 1841 to 1958, and two were from Pharaonic Egypt!

According to the review, many of the early studies showed less tartar formation with hard dry food vs the same food mixed with water, and similar results were reported in a study with canned vs dry cat foods. In 1965 a study compared feeding raw whole bovine trachea, esophagus, and attached muscle and fat, vs the same food minced. Plaque and gingival inflammation were increased with the minced diet. Even more fascinating, they tube-fed the minced food and found that plaque and gingivitis did not decrease, "showing food did not need to be present in the mouth to induce these changes." In fact, gingivitis tended to *increase* when dogs were tube-fed, "suggesting that even the minimal chewing required with minced food had some cleansing or protective effect."

A couple of studies showed that *large* dry food biscuits (not kibble) actually removed tartar, which is probably the theory underlying t/d's oversized chunks. Feeding of half an oxtail accomplished the same thing when fed weekly in another study. (I can just see it now, "Brand X's Half Oxtail Tartar Control Bones." :) [BTW, "No harmful effects were observed from feeding oxtails to > 200 dogs for > 6 years.]

Gorrel and Rawlings (The role of tooth-brushing and diet in the maintenance of periodontal health in dogs, J Vet Dent 1996 Dec;13(4):139-143) state that: "In a previous study, we showed that the daily addition of an appropriately designed chew to a dry food diet is effective in reducing accumulation of dental deposits...the addition of the chew to the dry food diet also reduced the severity of gingivitis that developed, compared with the regimen of dry food diet alone." This points out that dry food does not prevent tartar/gingivitis.

Interestingly, Gorrel states in another article that "The consensus is that supragingival calculus per se is not directly involved in the etiology or pathogenesis of [periodontal] disease, and is mainly of cosmetic significance if plaque removal is adequate." (Periodontal disease and diet; J Nutr. 1998;128:2712S-2714S.)

Another more recent review (DuPont G. Prevention of periodontal disease. Vet Clin N Amer 1998 Sept;28(5):1129-1145) says, "In some dogs, dry kibble or fibrous diet helps slow plaque accumulation more than does soft or canned food...Other chewing behaviors may be even more important for reducing plaque than is feeding dry food." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of dry food! He cites 2 studies showing t/d to be effective for "decreasing plaque and calculus accumulation." There is no indication in this paper of any funding from or affiliation with Hill's; the author is with a veterinary dental clinic in Seattle.

A review of feline neck lesions found no significant influence of diet. (Johnson N, Acquired feline oral cavity disease, Part 2: feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions. In Practice. 2000 Apr:188-197).

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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My kitten had REALLY bad breath and it was making his coat stink when he cleaned it. So I took him to the vet and after one look at his gums, he told me my cat had gingivitis. He gave me pills and after two weeks my cat's breath became "normal".
 

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My cat's breath seems to smell too :roll: . Our old vet said it was because of us feeding her the wet food. We are feeding her Fancy Feast canned & p/d dry. I just don't understand why do vets say that dry is better than if they are suppose to be helping us? I think Baby loves to get treats too. Dr Jean what your proving is only good for dogs btw.
 
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