By: Talin Seta Shahinian
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, designed to raise awareness of the importance of dental care for your pets. Like humans, cats need dental care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Cats can have loose teeth, broken teeth, sore or swollen gums, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. They’re also at risk for feline oral resorptive lesions. Older cats especially can be at higher risk for an array of dental ailments.
Why Is Feline Oral Health Important?
Your cat’s oral health is important because neglect of your cat’s teeth and gums can cause significant problems and pain within her mouth, and these issues can affect the rest of her body. If dental issues arise, and they’re left untreated, your kitty’s kidneys, liver, and heart can be affected. The risk to your cat’s dental and overall health begins when plaque on her teeth hardens into tartar. Tartar can make its way under the gum line and cause infections. These infections can lead to advanced periodontal disease, which will require more extensive veterinary dental treatment.
Tips for Cat Dental Care
Your first line of defense against dental problems is to brush your cat’s teeth with specially formulated pet toothpaste, using a brush designed for cats, a cotton swab, or even your finger if your cat isn’t a nipper. The best way to accomplish this is to start getting him used to this process when he’s still a kitten. If you’ve adopted an adult cat or weren’t aware of the importance of dental care earlier in his life, you can still start now, but it may take a little extra time to build up a tolerance to brushing.
Cat toothpaste comes in flavors they’re more likely to accept, such as beef or chicken. If you’re establishing a brushing routine for the first time, you may want to start by feeding your cat a little of this toothpaste daily to get him to see it as a treat. After accepting the paste, give him praise, pets, and a dental-safe treat. There are special dental chews for cats, such as Greenies brand, or ask your vet for a recommendation. They’re not a substitute for brushing but can be part of a preventative dental routine.
Ideally, you want to work up to brushing your cat’s teeth daily. However, if this isn’t well-tolerated, even brushing their teeth a few times a week is certainly better than no brushing at all.
Yearly Dental Vet Check-Ups and Cleaning
Once a year, your cat should have a dental exam performed by your veterinarian. This annual visit will also involve a thorough cleaning. To deep clean your cat’s teeth, anesthesia is required. Before administering anesthesia, your vet will do blood tests to make sure your cat’s general health is sound, to be sure that he can safely undergo anesthesia. Once your cat is under anesthesia, your vet will also be able to take x-rays to check for problems below the gum line. Your cat’s teeth will be scaled with dental tools to remove tartar and plaque.
If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Scheduling information is available on our www.purplecatvet.com website. You can also check out our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!