Read This Before Trying a Dental Food


Posted by Optimal Pet Foods | Posted in Dog Food | Posted on 24-02-2011

That is, before your pooch or kitty tries it!

Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Fat, Soybean Mill Run, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Vitamins & Minerals

Dog Dental Food

Tartar Dental Food

Hill’s T/D Tartar Dental Canine

(Science Diet)

Dental diets are designed for a single function.

Unfortunately any benefits of a dental diet may not outweigh long term nutritional issues.

What are these ingredients really made of, and does it resemble real food?

Brewer’s Rice : According to the AAFCO definition, Brewer’s Rice is “The dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.”

Dog’s and cats as  carnivores have zero requirements for carbohydrates – the high levels of grains and starches used in many pet foods are used as a cost measure and provide lower quality (incomplete) proteins  to the food.

Corn : A known allergen and least cost grain, corn is an attractive ingredient for use in pet food due to its low cost. It is so heavily subsidized that the cost to purchase is less than the cost to grow and produce it.

Approximately 69% of corn is genetically modified, or “Round-up Ready”, a patented corn product modified in the lab, utilizing cell invasion technology, to be resistant to the Round-up herbicide. Genetically modified crops typically receive almost twice as much herbicide application as regular crops that the body later has to contend with.

Chicken By-Product Meal : “The ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.”

Undeveloped eggs and intestines? Ick! Why? By-products are used as a cheap animal protein source. By-products are not classified as meat, there is no meat in this food.

Powdered Cellulose : “Purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant materials.”

Powdered cellulose can be made from sources including recycled cardboard and saw dust. It is a cheap nutrition-less filler used to bulk up a pet food and a low quality fiber. Better sources of fiber are available.

Pork Fat : Source of fat and to provide a rich flavor to an otherwise flavorless food.

Fat based ingredients are highly perishable and if not delivered fresh go rancid quickly. Suppliers of animal and fat based ingredients will preserve products to increase storage life. These preservatives are not listed on pet food ingredient panels.

Many such preservatives are preserved using petroleum based and chemically based preservatives, they are much less inexpensive to use and less is required compared to natural preservatives. Many have been shown to cause cancer, liver, kidney and bladder implications.

Statement from Hill’s:

Currently new, dry product introductions to this range contain the Natural Preservative System and the existing products contain a blend of the food antioxidants BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene).”

Statement from Royal Canin/Medi-Cal:

Royal Canin has chosen to associate two different antioxidants plus another substance working in synergy, that enhances their efficiency and allows a decrease in the doses of incorporation. These products are:-

BHA, propyl-gallate and potassium sorbate. We do not use BHT or Ethoxquin – by using Propl-gallate and potassium sorbate their Synergistic action reduces the amount of BHA that is used. By adding these it enables us to give a longer shelf life thus reducing the cost to the consumer.”

Clearly cost is of most paramount concern. BHA/BHT are known carcinogens and propyl gallate is toxic when ingested. BHA/BHT and ethoxyquin are banned from use in human products in many countries around the world. You won’t find them on many pet food labels because they were added to the ingredients prior to the manufacture of the food.

Soybean Mill Run : “Composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of de-hulled soybean meal.”

A by-product of soybean manufacturing, used as a cheap filler. Soy mimics estrogen and can wreak havoc on the hormonal system. Approximately 89% of soy crops are genetically modified, leaving long term health affects unknown.

Soybean Oil : An inexpensive source of fat, this vegetable oil is high in pro inflammatory omega 6 and low in usable omega 3 fatty acids.

Chicken Liver Flavor : Unknown source of flavoring.

Vitamins & Minerals : Added basic vitamins and minerals.

Dr. T.J. Dunn D.V.M
.- “There is ample proof that today’s pet dogs and cats do not thrive on cheap, corn-based pet foods.  Dogs and cats are primarily meat eaters; to fill them up with grain-based processed dry foods that barely meet minimum daily nutrient requirements has proven to be a mistake.”

Wow! Clearly any benefits of a dental diet (designed to be fed exclusively!) do not outweigh long term nutritional issues with long incubation periods.

The Effect On Your Wallet

Dental Dog FoodHill’s T/D Canine

Cost per lb: $2.80 (25lb bag)

Cups per day for a 30lb dog: 3 cups

Cost per day for a 30lb dog: $1.31

Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Fat, Soybean Mill Run, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Vitamins & Minerals

What About Healthy Pet Foods?

Compare the costs (and ingredients!) to a healthy pet food! Some options include:

Acana Adult Dog Food
Acana Adult

Cost per lb: $1.63 (30lb bag)

Cups per day for a  30lb dog: 1 cup

Cost per day for a 30lb dog: $0.49 (2.7 times less cost)

Ingredients: Chicken meal, steamed oats, fresh free-run chicken, peas, brown rice, chicken fat, fresh deboned salmon, chicken liver, fresh whole eggs, sun-cured alfalfa, salmon oil, pumpkin, chicken cartilage for glucosamine, red delicious apples, carrots, turnip greens, cranberries, Saskatoon berries, organic sea vegetables (kelp, bladderwrack, dulse), burdock root, marshmallow root, juniper berries, fenugreek, sweet fennel, angelica root, sea buckthorn, chicory root, stinging nettle, red raspberry leaf, milk thistle, peppermint leaf, marigold flowers, chamomile flowers, lactobacillus acidophilus and enterococcus faecium (pro-biotic cultures), Vitamins & Minerals

Go! Natural Dog Food
Go! Natural

Cost per lb: $2.20 (25lb bag)

Cups per day for a 30lb dog: 1 and 1/3

Cost per day for a 30lb dog: $0.90 (1.5 times less cost)

Ingredients: Chicken meal, de-boned chicken, brown rice, white rice, oatmeal, sunflower oil, chicken fat, potato, salmon meal, natural chicken flavor, whole dried egg, flaxseed oil, rice bran, pea fibre apples, carrots, sun-dried alfalfa meal, dried cranberries, sea salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, yeast extract, dried kelp, taurine, chicory root extract, pro-biotic cultures, Vitamins & Minerals, garlic powder, yucca schidigera extract, dried rosemary.

Use These Instead to Keep Teeth and Gums Healthy

There are great and easy ways to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Here are some options we recommend:

Petzlife Dental Spray & Tooth Gel

Dental Spray GelA safe and effective dental spray or tooth gel for dogs and cats, with no brushing required!

PetzLife is Doctor formulated and recommended to remove even severe plaque and tartar while freshening breath.

Tropiclean Dental Foam, Gel & Water Additive

Tropiclean Teeth GelTropiclean products include a gel, dental foam and water additive to keep those teeth and gums healthy!

Zuke’s Dental Bones

Zuke's Z-Ridge BonesA natural potato based dental bone with natural chlorophyll helps fight bad breath.

The ridged surface scrapes and polishes your dog’s teeth.

Comes in cranberry and original flavours.

Elk Antler

Elk AntlerElk Antler is naturally shed elk antler that makes a great dental chew treat for your pooch. Elk Antler typically lasts longer than other chews and its hard surface provides great abrasion for cleaning teeth.

Also known as EVA, Elk Velvet Antler contains many naturally occurring anti inflammatory compounds and has been used in Traditional Chinese as far back as 2000 years ago.

Muscle Chews, Raw and Smoked Bones

Bully Sticks & Smoked BonesMuscle chews, tendons and bully sticks are great for providing abrasion and cleaning action to those side and rear teeth. Meat and Fish strips work great for cats.

Raw bones and smoked bones provide hours of natural recreational chewing enjoyment while cleaning teeth.

There Are Lots of Options!

From brushing to chewing you can see there are many ways to keep teeth and gums healthy and prevent gingivitis without resorting to specialized dental diets that are questionable for short or long term use.

Between these and check ups your pup and kitty will be covered while maintaining health on a variety of foods. And of course as with any chew or treat it is always best to supervise your pets to ensure they are safe.

See also “What’s Really in Pet Food: Top 12 Ingredients to Avoid and Who Uses Them

Statement from Royal Canin/Medi-Cal:

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