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Dental disease in cats: Why carbohydrates are a bad idea.

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Natural remedies for dental disesae in cats

Dental disease

An unfortunately all too common in pets today. And it affects cats, just as much as it affects dogs.

Cats have 30 adult teeth which resemble the true nature of a carnivore:

  • 12 incisors- used for grooming

  • 4 canines- puncture/tear flesh

  • 10 premolars- shear and shred meat

  • 4 molars- crush and grind bone

While cats today have clearly strayed from their wild counterparts as far as diet, their dentition remains unchanged.

This is where we have run into some problems with their overall dental health.

A few of the most common dental problems we see:

  • Weakening of bone structure.

  • Stomatitis- severe oral inflammation, often ulcerative.

  • Resorptive lesions- progressive destruction of the tooth, forming holes/ lesions that become incredibly sensitive and painful.

  • Periodontal disease- advanced gum disease. Infected gums can spread to surrounding areas including tissues and bones.

  • Tartar buildup

This undoubtedly sounds painful!

But how would we know if a cat was suffering from any of these?


Signs that your cat may be experiencing dental pain or disease:

  • Bad breath

  • Picky eating

  • Dropping food

  • Drooling

  • Inflamed gums

  • Pawing at the mouth

Some cases can be managed at home with a diet and lifestyle change, while more severe cases, need a professional cleaning under anesthesia as the best form of treatment.


How can we prevent it?

A lot of misinformation is out there on how to manage dental disease in cats. One of the worst, being hard food.

The best prevention? A raw or species appropriate diet. Rich in moisture and protein, and low in carbohydrates. The picture shown above is a 23 year old farm cat, a great hunter too!

She has not a spot of tartar buildup on her chompers!

There is a lot of misconception surrounding raw food diets. Mainly from the veterinary industry, and Institution leaders themselves.

Does this sound ridiculous?


Hard kibble is marketed as a savior to dental health, saying the crunching action cleans teeth.

Let me just quickly express how FALSE this statement is... It is incredibly common to be told this, however. In fact, we learned this in school!


The Truth

Kibble is filled with STARCH... Starch sticks to teeth and CREATES PLAQUE.

Yep, it's that simple.

I will also add: carnivores, such as cats, do not create what is known as Salivary Amylase- the enzymes to break down starches.

Saying that kibble cleans teeth is the equivalent of saying, that you eating a granola bar is cleaning your teeth.

And we all know that is far from true.

This food is roughly calculated at 44% carbohydrate.

Another common modality is providing dental chews/ treats for cats. Get the overview and truth about these products in this post.


The best thing we can do for our cats to prevent dental disease?

Provide an appropriate diet (less than 10% carbs). Problem is, most dry foods contain over 50%.

Get more information on kibble feeding facts, and view a nifty calculation trick to get an overall carbohydrate percentage in my other blog post "Kibble Feeding How To's."

Providing a wet food or raw diet is ideal as opposed to kibble. Even providing a small amount each day can help!

Raw food and bones contain natural enzymes that assists in healthy oral flora and the breakdown of food. Bones have many benefits, from truly scraping the teeth, to providing essential vitamins and minerals.

Since wet and raw food are both rich in moisture and extremely low in carbohydrates, it leaves minimal buildup on teeth.

We can also give them appropriate chew toys, ample water, and brush their teeth for them regularly!

All of this can help prevent the painful dental issues that cats are so prone to, and create a better, healthier life, so you and your cat can have HAPPY TRAILS!


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