by Norm Shrout
Long Leash on Life
How can this be, you ask? It’s hard and crunchy, right? Dry food brands allege that their dry food help keep your pet’s teeth clean. Many companies put these claims on their packaging. Curiously, the pet food industry allows these unscientific claims, but they are far from the truth. This leaves pet parents believing that dry food not only cleans teeth, but that no other pet oral care measures are needed. The unfortunate oral-integrity losers are the pets.
To clean teeth, dry pet food would need to cause consistent and substantial abrasive action against the pet’s tooth during chewing, especially near the gum line. In reality, dry food shatters when the pet’s teeth apply pressure to it, forming a sticky paste that smears across the teeth. This is a perfect medium in which plaque (the start of oral hygiene problems) can form. Another compounding factor is the substantial amounts of simple carbs contained in most dry pet foods that tend to aggressively stick to the teeth.
Dental disease has become firmly entrenched as the number one health condition in pets; nearly 80% of cats and dogs have some degree of dental disease by age three. That’s because the vast majority of pets are consuming dry food alone, without any other oral hygiene protocols. Another unfortunate factor is that periodontal disease can contribute to other systemic health issues like heart disease, diabetic complications, as well as kidney and liver concerns.
Pet parents can prevent periodontal disease by investing 5 minutes a day on pet teeth brushing. This is the most effective way to remove food particles and disrupt plaque growth, which can return in as little as 24 hours. Another proven method is a specific seaweed food additive. Don’t rule out the added effectiveness of supervised chewing on safe, durable chews, including animal body parts and high quality dental chews. Keep in mind that wolves are not stricken with the periodontal disease that dogs endure because they do not consume processed dry food and they chew on raw bones.
It is understandable that the convenience of dry pet food makes it so universal. But if you stop and actually look at the drawbacks of feeding non-ancestral dry pet food, poor oral hygiene is just one of many reasons not to rely on it exclusively. Dry pet food is highly processed, exactly like human fast food. So it should not come as a surprise that is has more substantial health risks associated with it than the fewer benefits.
In closing, the next time you might be shopping for dry pet food, please consider the many other types of pet food that may be better for your pets’ oral integrity including dehydrated, freeze-dried, and fresh diets, as well as home prepared meals. Ask your local independent retailer, they will confirm that these foods can have a more positive effect on your pet’s dental dynamics. When it comes to their oral hygiene, health and overall well-being, it is clear that pets cannot live by dry food alone.