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Teeth and salivary glands: what are their functions ?

3 March 2023

Teeth: different shapes… for different purposes

Dogs and cats are carnivores, and you can tell by their teeth. Indeed, carnivores have teeth that allow them to shred and crush food. They also move up and down with their jaws. Herbivores, on the other hand, chew and use lateral movements to do so. Their teeth are quite different from those of dogs and cats.

The dentition of our domestic carnivores therefore includes :

  • incisors – with a fleur-de-lis appearance – for cutting, shearing and trimming ;
  • canines or fangs – large and tapered – for catching and holding prey;
  • premolars – for tearing meat;
  • molars – with 1 to 3 roots – for grinding food.


What is the role of saliva ?

Saliva is formed by :

  • the mixture of secretions from the various salivary glands present in the oral cavity of dogs and cats,
  • the cells of the oral mucosa that have desquamated – that have died,
  • microorganisms present and their products,
  • food debris.

This fluid therefore contains water and minerals, mucins, immune cells and various enzymes. It acts as a lubricant, protector and antibacterial agent, despite the considerable amount of bacteria present. For example, the mouths of our canines contain over 300 species of bacteria. Unlike our saliva, dog and cat saliva does not serve as the first step in digestion.

Certain enzymes present in saliva, such as peroxidases, interfere with glucose metabolism and limit bacterial growth. They are now found in some oral gels.

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