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October 1, 2014

Dental disease is one of the most overlooked problems in domestic pets, but while canine dentistry is gaining more media attention, feline dentistry products don’t get as much love.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by the time they are three years old. Poor dental care can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate on teeth. Symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, bleeding and inflammation of the gums. Plaque and tartar can throw off the natural balance of healthy bacteria in a cat’s mouth. Signs of serious dental problems can include pawing at the mouth, swollen and reddened gums, ulcers on gums or tongue, pus, excessive drooling, bad breath and loose teeth.

Brushes and Toothpastes

In the wild, cats naturally cleanse their teeth and prevent tooth decay by tearing flesh and chomping the bones of prey. But in this day and age, it’s rare that a cat hunts more than catnip toys. Brushing a cat’s teeth should be a habit that is started early on in life to alleviate the chance of it becoming an unappreciated chore.

“Brushing a cat’s teeth is the most effective way to maintain dental health between professional cleanings,” said Dr. Lori Coughlin, owner of The Cat Practice. “However, for brushing to be effective, it should be done several times per week as it can take as little as 48 hours for tartar to accumulate.”

To ensure good brushing habits, owners should begin early and use a toothpaste designed specifically for cats. Industry favorites include such as C.E.T.’s Enzymatic Toothpaste and Petrodex toothpastes, which help break down proteins and sugars that damage teeth and gums. They also assist in preserving enamel and strengthening gums. Fluoride-enhanced toothpastes may be prescribed by a veterinarian and tuna- or chicken-flavored toothpastes may be more easily accepted by finicky felines.

Teeth and Gum Wipes

For cats who have not been trained early on to accept a toothbrush, dental tooth and gum wipes, such as those available from John Paul Pet or earthbath, can make dental care a breeze.

“Unfortunately many well-meaning pet owners overlook the importance of a regular program of dental hygiene for their pets,” said Paul Armstrong, president for earthbath. “Part of the problem is that people think that regular cleaning is such a difficult process but our new wipes greatly simplify the job and provide an all natural solution to keeping their pet’s teeth and gums healthy.”

Earthbath’s Tooth & Gum Wipes are pre-moistened towelettes that provide pet owners with a simple and effective way to clean teeth and gums. No more messy toothpaste and difficult-to-use toothbrushes these wipes provide a gentle and easy way to ensure that pets are receiving proper oral hygiene.

Rinses, Mouthwashes and Water Additives

Water additives are clever ways to manage a cat’s dental hygiene. One such product is the new Cat Dental Cleanse from Natural Chemistry.

“Natural Chemistry Cat Dental Cleanse has no artificial colors, chlorine, dyes or sweeteners,” said Jeff Fowler. “The product is odorless and tasteless, thus close to 100-percent acceptance from the cat. The product is made in the USA and helps reduce the buildup of plaque and tarter as well as freshens breath. It is easy to use, just add 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water daily.”

A proprietary blend of grapefruit seed extract and other natural ingredients makes PetzLife Oral Care Spray and Gel a part of an oral care maintenance program, especially for senior pets.

Plaque-Zapper is another unique approach to dental care.

“Pet owners simply empty a packet of Plaque-Zapper into a pet’s drinking water to help prevent dental decay, plaque, tartar and bad breath,” said Susan Weiss, CEO of Ark Naturals. “It is odorless, tasteless and colorless and will not change a pet’s drinking or eating habits.”

Plaque-Zapper contains enzymes that are activated by mouth saliva, which changes the pH level and deters the growth of oral bacteria.

“Dental Fresh for Cats, when used regularly, promotes fresh breath and improves oral health by strengthening gums and teeth,” said Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator for SynergyLabs. “It also removes plaque, tartar, and unwanted bacteria from teeth. One key difference from other similar products is that Dental Fresh for Cats is feline-specific. It does not contain mint like most pet oral health solutions; instead it has an enhanced flavor of tuna that cats like. Cats tend to know what they like, so by offering an enhanced tuna-flavored oral health water additive guarantees cats to stay on a daily regimen.“

Recommended by leading board certified veterinary dentists around the world, Essential healthymouth is the first and only dental water additive to receive the prestigious Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance for plaque control in cats. Healthymouth’s patented formula contains 100-percent human-grade ingredients; it is free of all synthetic, artificial ingredients, alcohol and contains no calories, fat, sugar or sodium.

For fast, safe relief of bad breath in pets, there are also a number of natural products available. Teeth & Gums for Cats from Natural Pet Products offers a homeopathic approach to mouth odor.

“At Natural Pet Pharmaceuticals, we’ve had tremendous success in formulating homeopathic products for dogs and cats,” said Dr. Frank King, founder of Natural Pet Pharmaceuticals. “Each natural ingredient is selected by its clinical results and safety over the test of time. Our products are synergistic combinations of the finest natural ingredients, creating an advanced therapeutic effect that is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Toys and Chews

Dental chew toys aren’t just for dogs these days. Specially designed toys are formulated with naturally occurring enzymes that will help break down plaque and tartar buildup along the gum line. These preventions are excellent in helping to fight gum disease and prevent or reduce gingivitis.

Many manufacturers have developed innovative dental toys that offer cats the opportunity to crunch, chew and clean while they play.

The new Catit Dental Chew Toy from Rolf C Hagen helps turn playtime into brushing time thanks to a special cotton fabric with grid pattern that gently removes plaque while your cat chews.

Petstages has segmented an entire line of toys focused on dental health. Their Catnip Dental Health Chews offer netting to help remove soft tartar and massage gums as the cat chews. Filled with catnip, the fibrous material helps satisfy a cat’s natural desire to chew.

Diets and Treats

Nutritionists and veterinarians at Hills Pet have developed clinical nutrition especially formulated to keep cat’s teeth clean and help control the oral bacteria found in plaque.

“Recent studies have demonstrated there is an association between oral health issues and systemic more general health issues altering the kidney, heart and metabolic systems,” said Lori Smith, Hills Pet Food. “t/d® Feline Dental Health is formulated to reduce the amount of bacteria-laden plaque in the mouth to promote systemic health while added antioxidants help to control cell oxidation and promote a healthy immune system.”

Prescription diets such as Purina’s Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health Feline Formula and Royal Canin Veterinary Care Nutrition Dental have been formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for adult and senior cats and are specifically formulated for plaque and tartar control.

Chews and treats are also being designed specifically for our felines. Dentafresh Daily Chews for Cats with Peroxide Enzyme System are a good way to support oral health. Each treat is uniquely processed, freeze-dried fish that maintain many of the benefits of fresh fish. The Peroxide Enzyme System helps support a healthy mouth. Hydrogen peroxide is liberated as the treat is chewed.

The unique teeth-cleaning shape and great taste of Feline Greenies Dental Treats for Cats can also help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar accumulation on your cat’s teeth, the two leading contributors of dental health issues. Feline Greenies Dental Treats for Cats are made with added vitamins, minerals, taurine, and chlorophyll for optimum feline health. They contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and fewer than two calories per piece.

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