February marks National Pet Dental Health month, designed to raise awareness about the importance of dental health for your pets. You may not think your cat is susceptible to dental problems, as they groom themselves and seem to be quite independent. In actuality, periodontal disease is a common condition affecting both young and old cats, and over half of all cats over the age of three have it. Your cat may be at risk or already have it. You can do something to help your feline friend avoid periodontal disease or recover from it.
What Is Feline Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease occurs due to an accumulation of plaque, a complex film that forms on the surface of your cat’s teeth. Plaque occurs due to an accumulation of bacteria in your cat’s mouth. This film may appear to be a soft gray or white as it accumulates. If plaque isn’t cleared away, it hardens and becomes tartar, which is more difficult to remove. Plaque or tartar are usually accompanied by gingivitis, an inflammation of gum tissue. This combination of symptoms affects the structure designed to support your cat’s teeth and keep their teeth healthy.
What Are the Symptoms of Feline Periodontal Disease?
One of the most obvious symptoms of periodontal disease is Gingivitis, an inflammation that can cause visible redness of the gums. Gingivitis can lead your cat’s gums to recede and cause other dental problems. Several risk factors for Gingivitis include viral infections, misalignment of your cat’s teeth, lack of dental care, or improper dental care. It’s also possible that your cat is just genetically predisposed to periodontal disease. Pay attention to your cat’s teeth and gums, and look for any of the following signs of Gingivitis:
- Swollen or red gums.
- Bad breath, especially if you notice your cat’s breath has gotten progressively worse over time.
- Difficulty eating their food, even if it’s wet food.
- Drooling excessively.
- Decreased appetite or loss of interest in food.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Behavioral changes, such as irritability.
How Is Feline Periodontal Disease Treated?
At the vet, your cat will have blood tests to make sure they can tolerate anesthesia, as they’ll have to be put under for dental care. Then your vet will remove any plaque or tartar build-up on or around the gums. The good news is that gingivitis is usually reversible with proper veterinary care and follow-up maintenance at home. Your vet can guide you in a plan to brush your cat’s teeth at home. Oral rinses or coconut oil may also be used. For more severe gingivitis, your cat may need antibiotics.
Periodontal disease can also have adverse effects on your cat’s overall health. That’s why any sign of dental issues needs to be addressed without delay. Left untreated, bacteria in your cat’s mouth can travel through their bloodstream, infecting their heart, liver, and kidneys.
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!