Tuesday, February 27, 2024

4 Tips for Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Healthy

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the day we had to leave my beloved cat Patch at the vet to have several teeth extracted. I still remember my mother crying in the car when she picked me up from school as she told me how he had climbed up her jacket, practically pleading with her not to leave him there. As she explained the surgery he would be undergoing I couldn't help but wonder if my best friend would be coming home. Thankfully Patch made a full recovery, and as a result I learned the importance of caring for my cat's teeth at a very young age.

February is Dental Health Month, serving as a reminder of how important it is to make your pet’s dental care a priority. If left untreated poor dental hygiene can be associated with more dangerous medical conditions such as kidney, liver, heart complications and diabetes. Unfortunately, most cats develop periodontal disease by age three showing symptoms such as swollen gums, increased drooling, whining while eating, loss of appetite, weight loss, bleeding, and loose or discolored teeth. Periodontal disease in pets is a chronic, irreversible condition, which is why taking care of your pet's mouth before there's a problem is so important.

Here are some tips for keeping your pet’s teeth as healthy as possible:

Monthly Checks: A monthly examination of the mouth can stop dental problems in their tracks. Things to look for include bad breath, cysts or tumors, missing or loose teeth, redness, inflammation and too much moisture or drool. It's important to get familiar with your cat's mouth and desensitize her to touch as early as possible in order to do regular checks and report anything unusual to your vet right away.

Veterinary Visits: Your veterinarian should examine your pet’s mouth at each visit. Many offices even offer tooth and gum cleanings and mouth care services. Many vets are offering these services at a discount during the month of February so this is a great time to make an appointment!

Brush Their Teeth: Brushing your cat’s teeth at home is not as scary as it sounds! Look for pet specific toothpaste since human toothpaste can upset their stomach. As for brushing, you can use a toothbrush or simply wrap some gauze around your finger. Go slowly and gently as your cat gets used to the consistency of whatever you’re using and the taste of the toothpaste. Make it a fun experience, and try to do it a couple times a week. A regular routine will make training much easier.

Diet: Like humans, a pet’s diet can affect their overall health. There are many cat treats and foods on the market made specifically to help reduce tartar and plaque build-up. Food debris feeds the bacteria that causes gingivitis, so make sure your cat always has lots of fresh water available to wash away any particles left after a meal.

None of us can stand the thought of our beloved pets being in any sort of pain or discomfort, and since cats are notorious for masking signs of illness, it's up to us as pet parents to remain vigilant about all aspects of their care, including their pearly whites. Preventive care isn't difficult and the payoff is huge!


Lynn and Precious said...

You are very helpful and informative to share this with us this morning. I have never yet been able to actually brush my cat's teeth. Not any of them. So every few years when they tell me my cat has to have her teeth cleaned, I cringe at the thought of what has to happen.

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

Before Bear, I was so clueless about dental issues. I learned fast! He needed his first dental and extractions when he was 1 1/2! No vet had looked in his mouth until he had a case of acute pancreatitis. As scary as it was, it probably saved him a lot of pain since we found out what was going on in his mouth!

messymimi said...

Thanks for the great tips! If teeth are important to us, it's important for them, too.

Brian's Home Blog said...

Those were all good and, except for the newbies, the others get their teeth brushed here. We'll start the newbies soon.

pilch92 said...

Great post. I need to start brushing some of my cats' teeth. XO

meowmeowmans said...

Thanks for this informative -- and important -- post. Just like us, our kitties need their teeth to be healthy.

Fur Everywhere said...

These are good tips! I TRY to brush Giovanni's teeth j-4 times a week. He isn't amused by that. I tell him he wants to keep his teeth, but he insists on batting me away.

Smudge said...

Very informative, Mudpie, and a great reminder. I've heard whispered discussion around here about my teeth and I'm not looking forward to whatever evil plan these two have in store for my mouth.