Without proper dental hygiene, tartar build up in the mouth of a cat causes serious health issues and pain. Brushing is best to keep this build-up at a minimum, but cat prescription diet food for tartar control is another tool veterinarians use to help keep dental disease from becoming a problem.
The most recent prescription dental cat food to receive the Veterinary Oral Health Council's Seal of Acceptance is Royal Canin's Feline Dental Diet in 2012. Purina Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health brand Feline Formula received its seal in 2006 and Hill's Science Diet's dental cat food t/d had a new and improved formula get the seal in 2001. This signifies that theses products are "intended to help retard plaque and tartar on the teeth of animals." All these brands are meant to be sold only through a prescribing veterinarian, with the exception of the Royal Canin brand, which can also be sold over the counter.
Royal Canin also has an "Oral Sensitive" food that claims the unique kibble shape causes a brushing effect on the teeth and that agents in the food bind and remove salivary calcium before it becomes tartar. Purina's Dental Health food formula uses textured kibble as its means to control tartar.
Rinses, sprays, gels and chews are also available to assist in good dental hygiene, and like the food, should be used only at the advice of a vet. Cat Essential Healthy Mouth makes a spray, a gel, and even a water additive, but they mention in their trial reports that brushing is still the best form of dental hygiene for cats.
Nothing can replace daily brushing for effectiveness in keeping a cat's mouth healthy. Brushing removes the deposits of plaque that cannot be removed by the special kibble. Human toothpaste should never be used. Special toothpaste made for pets and sold by a veterinarian is best.
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