Dietary Dilemma: Which Food Is Best for Your Cat’s Dental and Renal Health?

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common health condition to afflict cats and dogs, and chronic kidney disease is a commonly diagnosed disease in older cats. There are a number of contributing factors that set the stage for the development of chronic kidney disease, and periodontal disease is believed to be one of them. The diet that you may have once heard would benefit your cat's dental health, however, may be taxing on their renal health. Find out how you can take care of your kitty's pearly whites and keep their kidneys happy at the same time.

The Kibble Myth

For years, veterinarians recommended feeding their feline patients dry kibble as their primary diet based on the notion that hard food would require more chewing action to help the cats keep their teeth clean. The problem with this theory is that the kibble size of most commercial dry cat foods is so small that a cat has trouble getting the kibbles positioned in her mouth for thorough chewing. Consequently, many of the consumed kibbles end up being swallowed whole. The second problem with dry food is that is has a high carbohydrate content. Once these carbohydrates come into contact with your cat's saliva, they adhere to the surface of your cat's teeth. This sets the stage for plaque accumulation, and plaque develops into tartar, which leads to periodontal disease. If you have been feeding your cat a dry kibble diet, her food is not benefiting their dental health.

Dental Diets

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) only allows the placement of its seal of approval on products that have shown clinical results in improving the oral health of cats and dogs. There are a number of dental diets for cats, and most of them operate on the principle that the kibble is larger in size and specifically shaped to require more chewing. The problem with these diets is that, regardless of how much chewing is needed, they are still dry kibble foods. If you have been feeding your cat a dental diet, you may be helping her teeth, but her food may be inflicting damage on her kidneys.

Better Choices

Today, veterinarians are no longer urging pet owners to feed dry kibble to their feline friends. On the contrary, they are touting the benefits of wet food. When your cat dines on a nutritionally balanced premium canned food, her meal is lower in carbohydrates to be broken down and fewer wastes that her kidneys need to filter. Canned food also contains a whopping water content of roughly 78 percent, which is significantly higher than the typical 5 to 10 percent contained in dry kibble. Increased water intake means better hydration in your cat's body, and the water helps to flush toxins out of the kidneys more efficiently. Chronic kidney disease results from the degeneration of tissues in the kidney, which is accelerated by wear and tear. Helping the kidneys to function more easily is essential in slowing down that wear and tear. Other benefits of increased water intake include improved urinary tract health and a reduced risk for bladder-stone formation.

Dental Care Beyond Diet

Your veterinarian can restore your cat's dental health by performing dental cleaning procedures when needed to prevent periodontal disease. He or she cannot, however, restore your cat's kidney function. Chronic kidney disease is an irreversible, degenerative condition. Feeding your cat a diet of wet food will be better for your cat's teeth while putting less of a workload on her kidneys. Dietary choice alone is not the answer for maintaining your cat's healthy smile. In addition to feeding your cat canned food, you should also practice the following habits.

Brush your cat's teeth. There are toothbrushes that are uniquely designed for a cat's mouth, but you may need to start training your cat to accept having her mouth handled by using a piece of gauze to wipe her teeth at first. Use only toothpaste that is specifically formulated for use in cats. The ingredients of human toothpastes can be harmful to your cat.

Swap out your cat's treats for dental treats, which are designed for chewing to help maintain dental health. These treats are not a substitute for brushing her teeth. Think of them as a supplement to brushing, and offer them as rewards as you train her to accept having her teeth brushed.

Bring your cat to your veterinarian at his or her recommended intervals for wellness examinations, which include oral examinations.

Be sure to look for the VOHC seal on the packages when shopping for dental-care products and dental treats.

Healthy lifestyle habits, which include a healthy diet, are essential for your overall health, vitality and longevity. The same holds true for your feline companion. Include a premium canned-food diet and a dental-care routine among her healthy lifestyle habits to keep her purring along for years to come.

Talk to a vet, such as one at Windsor Veterinary Clinic PC, for more specific advice.