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Cat Dental Water Additives: 3 Benefits (Vet Answer)

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By Dr. Iulia Mihai

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Written by

Dr. Iulia Mihai

DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are known for hiding their pain, regardless of its origin. The same goes for oral diseases. While it is believed that oral problems usually occur in senior pets, in reality, 70% of cats start showing signs of oral disease by the age of 3.

Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is a good method for preventing oral diseases, but sometimes it may not be enough. For this reason, some veterinarians recommend oral supplements like dental water additives in addition to regular tooth brushing. These products are meant to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar and to freshen your cat’s breath.

The 3 Benefits of Cat Dental Water Additives

1. Dental Water Additives Are More Convenient Than Brushing

Dental water additives do not replace brushing your cat’s teeth but can still benefit your pet’s oral health. You should brush your cat’s teeth at least three times a week. It can be difficult to hold a cat and brush their teeth effectively at the same time, so you should get your cat used to the process starting from an early age.

You can get the help of a veterinarian for a thorough dental cleaning, but this has the disadvantages of high costs and the use of general anesthesia.

For these reasons, dental water additives are good supplements for your cat’s oral health. They do not involve any stress on your cat’s part. They can have a minty taste or have no taste or smell at all. You just need to add a small quantity to your pet’s water bowl or fountain every day (whenever you change their water).

Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

2. Dental Water Additives Help Prevent Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is a complex layer of bacteria that adheres to the surfaces of teeth. The thickness of bacterial plaque increases over time. Initially, it is not visible to the naked eye, but as it thickens, it can be seen as a gray, whitish, or yellowish deposit on the surfaces of your cat’s teeth.

Dental tartar in cats is the result of the mineralization of bacterial plaque. While plaque can be easily removed by brushing your cat’s teeth, dental tartar is a hard substance resistant to brushing. Tartar deposits can only be removed after professional cleaning in the veterinary office.

The speed at which dental tartar appears varies greatly depending on each individual. The factors that influence the rate of tartar accumulation are:

  • Genetic factors
  • Saliva composition
  • Teeth alignment
  • Diet
  • Infectious diseases
  • Lack of dental hygiene

Tartar causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). This is common in cats, and the severity can vary greatly, from mild manifestations to very severe forms.

Plaque and tartar are the main factors that determine the development and progression of periodontal disease in pets. As a result, the prevention of periodontal disease is done by removing dental plaque (daily tooth brushing at home) and regular professional dental cleaning (usually annually) at the vet.

Periodontal disease represents the destruction of the tissues around the teeth (ligaments, alveolar bone, and gum). Clinical signs of periodontal disease in cats include:

  • Gingivitis (red, inflamed gums)
  • Being reluctant to eat (the cat has an appetite but refuses food)
  • Excessive salivation (sometimes with blood)
  • Chewing with difficulties
  • Turning their head to the side when chewing
  • Halitosis (bad breath)

For these reasons, in addition to brushing your cat’s teeth, it is recommended to add dental additives to your pet’s water. Their role is to clean the teeth and prevent plaque and tartar. If your cat has hard deposits on their teeth, it’s time to take them to the vet for a dental cleaning.

opening cat's mouth with dental disease
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

3. Dental Water Additives Help Freshen Your Cat’s Breath

Severe bad breath is not normal and will not go away on its own. However, a slight smell is not a cause for concern. As in the case of periodontal disease, bad breath is influenced by several factors. It can also be a sign that your cat’s oral care is not quite right. In this context, dental water additives can freshen your cat’s breath by killing bacteria.

A healthy mouth will not have a pungent smell. However, certain diseases have a specific odor. For example:

  • With diabetes, your cat’s breath will smell like green apples (a fruity smell) or acetone.
  • With kidney disease, your cat’s breath will smell like ammonia or urine.
  • With liver disease, your cat’s breath will smell like vomit.

Also, if your cat has a piece of food stuck between their teeth, their breath will have a pungent smell.

cat facing and smelling a person
Image Credit: JumpStory


Dental water additives are products intended for pets for oral care. These should not replace the regular brushing of your cat’s teeth, however, and you should brush your cat’s teeth at least three times per week. That said, dental water additives kill oral bacteria and prevent plaque, tartar, and bad breath. To know which product suits your cat, contact the veterinarian. Also, don’t forget to take your cat to a dental cleaning once a year.

Featured Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock

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