Dental hygiene remains paramount for good overall feline health. Apart from the issues of periodontal disease, bacteria left unattended in the mouth, when ingested internally, can lead to various life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, and liver and kidney failure.
Although February has been designated Pet Dental Month, more pet owners are being educated about dental issues and the need for year-round dental care. And to this end, pet specialty stores with an active internet presence via a store website and social media sites have helped enormously in an educational role.
Dental on Display
Experts agree that even more can be done by drawing attention to products that promote good feline dental hygiene.
“The key to promoting and selling feline dental care products year round is to merchandise them in different places within the store,” said AdreAnne Tesene, owner of Two Bostons in Naperville, Illinois. “We carry a variety of dental products, such as Paws IQ and Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste, and market them in multiple areas within the store, such as the grooming section and near food and treats in our cat department.
“We also often suggest the Zymox Oratene dental gel as an easy-to-apply option,” she continued. “The gel contains natural bio-active enzymes that effectively inhibit harmful odor-causing bacteria and remove plaque, helping to protect both feline teeth and gums.”
According to Susan Weiss, the founder and owner of Ark Naturals, another tactic is placing dental products close to seasonal ones.
“This way, it ensures that oral health remains in the customer’s peripheral, literally and figuratively,” Weiss said. “Our other feline dental product is our PlaqueZapper, an easy to use drinking water additive that reduces plaque, whitens teeth and helps restore the saliva’s natural balance. It’s colorless and odorless, hence its feline appeal.”
ProDen PlaqueOff Powder produced by SwedencareUSA is a gluten-free, soy-free supplement that contains 100 percent natural and sustainably harvested sea kelp, believed to contain bacteria-fighting properties.
“Dental care is unfortunately one of the most overlooked health issues pet owners concern themselves with,” said Scott Reinhardt, vice president of sales and marketing. “We created a product that is really easy to use. The supplement comes in a granulated form and can be sprinkled onto dry food and also mixed into wet food.”
The same ingredient is used in the company’s Dental Bites, which are also free from additives, artificial preservatives and sugar. The treats are deemed suitable for both cats and dogs.
Dry Food Debate
The debate as to whether the action of eating dry food can actually help prevent tartar build-up has also led to an ongoing discussion among veterinarians.
Dr. Jan Bellows, a veterinary orthodontist who practices in Weston, Florida, said that there are peer reviewed articles on both sides saying one is better than the other and added that he likes to draw attention to food and treats products that have the VOHC seal of acceptance, such as Feline Greenies and ProPlan Dental Crunch Cat Snacks.
“These products have been shown in at least two double blinded studies to decrease the accumulation of plaque and/ or calculus,” he explained.
Most veterinary-prescribed dental foods are prescription diets. However, Royal Canin has an over-the-counter dental formula, Oral Care, made for adult cats with dental sensitivities.
“The cube-shaped kibble has a special texture that encourages chewing and promotes a brushing effect that helps reduce plaque formation,” explained Dr. Brent Mayabb, director of corporate affairs at Royal Canin USA. “We have seen an improvement in the reduction of dental plaque formation in seven days with Oral Care kibble size, shape and texture when compared to the same recipe with a standard kibble size, shape and texture.”
Wellness positions its Kittles cat treats as a dental aid because of the shapes of the treats and has also added three new flavors to the popular line of crunchy low-calorie snacks: Kittles Whitefish & Cranberries, Kittles Turkey & Cranberries and Kittles Duck & Cranberries.
Virbac Corporation’s feline dental products that include toothpastes, brushes and dental chews are sold primarily in veterinary offices. In an attempt to place its products in a bigger pet specialty retail environment, the company had a very strong presence at the recent SuperZoo retail trade show in Las Vegas.
The chicken flavored C.E.T. Cat Chews treat is marketed as home dental care as this product has a dual enzyme system that offers a natural abrasive texture that helps to reduce plaque and loosen tartar. While the company also produces an oral gel and both toothpastes and brushes, the chews are an option to offer some dental care to cats that are completely resistant to the ideas of oral gels and having their teeth cleaned, according to the company’s public relations spokesperson, Kristy Boulos of Matrix Partners.
Because they are a nutraceutical company, Vermont-based VetriScience Laboratories focuses on the benefits of probiotics and natural ingredients to help create a healthy dental environment in a cat’s mouth. The company has two feline dental products, namely Perio Plus Feline Bites, a chew dental formula, and Perio Support, a food additive in powder form that can be sprinkled on both dry and wet food. For a cat up to 15 pounds in weight, as little as ¼ teaspoon needs to be added to every meal to promote good feline dental health between professional teeth cleaning sessions at the vet’s office.