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Guelph Veterinarian discusses Dental Health in Cats.

Proper dental health is an important part of ensuring a healthy life for the special kitty in your life. Yet, the scary reality is that four out of five cats suffer from periodontal disease,  and most cats suffer in silence!  Cats are masters at hiding pain and fragility, notes Guelph veterinarian Dr. Jocelyn Maggs.  Even though periodontal disease is painful, many cats cope by chewing their food where their mouth is not sore or even by not chewing at all and swallowing food whole.  As a cat owner, you may not even be aware there is an issue!

That is why regular oral check ups and prevention measures are so important for your cat’s oral health.  How can your tell if your cat has dental issues?  With your cat facing you, gently lift the upper lips.  The gums should be firm and pink, similar to how your own gums look; not white or red.  There should be no signs of swelling and the teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar.  No teeth should be loose or broken.

Other signs to watch for include:

  • bad breath
  • weight loss
  • approaching food bowl , but appearing reluctant to eat
  • pawing at the mouth or shaking head
  • drooling, possibly with blood

If your cat is experiencing any of the above, you should schedule a dental exam with your Guelph veterinarian.  Regular vet visits are vital to ensuring quality of health, particularly for senior cats and a thorough dental exam should be part of every check-up your cat has.

So, if your cat has dental disease- what now??  The simplest option is to feed a prescription dental diet. With these specialized large kibbles, cats can chew their way to a fresher breath, cleaner teeth and better health.  Dental diets use large size, fibre content and enzymes to eliminate plaque. Bacteria and food debris form plaque on teeth which, if not removed, will harden to form tartar. Over time, tartar inflames the gums causing gingivitis and loss of teeth. As well, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body, including the heart and kidneys, leading to extensive damage and life threatening infections.

dental cat

Another option is dental home care, aka brushing your cat’s teeth. Guelph veterinarians note that owners who are able to brush their cat’s teeth will notice significant improvements in oral health.  However this is not always an easy task, so introduce the concept of tooth brushing at a young age, if possible.  Take care to use only toothpaste specifically formulated for felines.  Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and can cause stomach upset in pets, since they swallow the paste rather than spit it out. It should take several months to introduce tooth brushing to your cat. Ask your Guelph veterinarian for advice on this process. Remember, there are many cats for whom the mouth may be too sore to allow brushing.

For these cats, suffering from significant tartar, gingivitis, reabsorbing teeth, or loose teeth, a dental cleaning done under general anaesthesia will be needed to restore oral health. With your cat completely relaxed by anaesthesia, the veterinarian can do a thorough evaluation of all teeth, using dental radiology if needed. The teeth can be thoroughly cleaned, both above and below the gums, and any damaged teeth removed.  It is quite common for clients to report the dramatic improvement dentistry makes in their cat’s life.  And, that they simply did not realize how uncomfortable their pet was!

Protect your cat with regular check-ups and a home dental care routine. Don’t let your pet suffer dental disease in silence. If you have questions about your cat’s oral health, contact the Guelph Cat Clinic, your Guelph feline veterinarian, for an examination today. <Link to dental page>

 

 

 

 

 

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