Cat eating from bowl


Commercial dry pet food can significantly benefit the oral health of cats and dogs

In a nationwide study of more than 17,000 dogs and 6,000 cats visiting over 700 Polish veterinary surgeries, researchers have shown that including at least some dry food in the diet has significant benefits for oral health in cats and dogs compared with home-prepared alternatives.

The study conducted by Mars Petcare Poland and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition in collaboration with the Polish Small Animal Veterinary Association, showed that introducing an element of commercial dry food into the diets of cats and dogs led to a marked improvement in oral health status. Benefits were also seen when daily toothbrushing or dental chews were introduced. The survey also found that the probability of oral health problems was significantly higher when the cats and dogs were fed home-prepared foods.

“Gum disease is one of the most frequently diagnosed oral diseases in cats and dogs, with signs ranging from mild gingivitis to tooth loss,” noted WALTHAM scientist and study author Dr Catherine Buckley. “Diet and level of oral care play a key role in determining the oral health status of cats and dogs. While toothbrushing, dental snacks and regular veterinary check-ups are still the gold standard in terms of maintaining good oral hygiene, this study shows that including some dry food in the feeding regimen can have considerable benefits for pets’ oral health.” In practical terms, this study demonstrates that feeding some of the food portion as dry food, and including toothbrushing and dental chews in a care regimen is likely to help maintain the oral health status of cats and dogs.

WALTHAM is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of companion animals. This research forms part of a wider programme of ongoing collaborative research into the oral health of both cats and dogs.

These findings were originally presented at the WALTHAM International Nutritional Science Symposium (WINSS), which took place in September 2010 in Cambridge, UK. The research has since been published as part of a special edition WINSS supplement to accompany the October issue of the British Journal of Nutrition and is now available in print or free online:

Link to British Journal of Nutrition WINSS 2010 supplement

WINSS 2010, which was hosted in partnership with the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University and The Nutrition Society, brought together many of the world’s leading experts on pets and nutrition to present and discuss the latest developments in the field of veterinary and nutritional science.