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Monday, August 4, 2014

8 Steps To Feline Dental Health

By:  Laurie Brzostowski, President, Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care, Round Lake, IL

Does your cat have stinky breath?  Before you give him a breath mint you might want to check and see if he is having dental problems.

Dental problems in domestic cats are due, in part, to diet. Cats were designed to hunt and catch small prey, which they devoured more or less whole. The abrasive action of hair and feathers and bones from prey animals probably helped to keep their teeth clean. Current diets may predispose cats to tartar and plaque formation, as well as the development of feline oral resorptive lesions or cavities.

Your cats teeth should be inspected regularly. Many dental problems go undetected until they cause major symptoms. Cats resist examination, particularly when suffering from a painful mouth. A good program of home dental care will prevent many problems that would otherwise lead to a poor state of health and nutrition.

Before doing anything you should always make sure you get some advice from your veterinarian.

Here are 8 steps to take care of your cats teeth at home:
  1. Smell your cats breath. A cats breath may not smell like roses, but it shouldn’t be offensive either. If your kitty’s mouth has an abnormally strong odor, he may have digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis, and should be examined by a vet.
  2. With your cat facing you, gently push back his lips and take a look. The gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken.
  3. Watch for any of the following signs that could indicate problems in your cat’s mouth:
    • Dark red line along the gums
    • Red and swollen gums
    • Ulcers on gums or tongue
    • Loose teeth
    • Pus
    • Difficulty chewing food
    • Excessive drooling
    • Excessive pawing at the mouth area
  4. At any sign of gum inflammation, you should take your cat in for a veterinary exam. If left untreated, gum disease can develop, possibly leading to tooth loss or inability to eat. This can also be a sign of more serious diseases.
  5. Chew toys can satisfy your cat’s natural desire to chomp, while making her teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your cat’s teeth, massage her gums and scrape away soft tartar.
  6. If your cat has dental troubles, ask your veterinarian to recommend a cat food that keeps feline teeth healthy and helps to remove plaque buildup.
  7. Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup on a cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. The solution? Regular teeth cleanings.
  8. All you’ll need to brush your cat’s teeth are cotton swabs and a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste formulated for felines. You can also use salt and water. Ask your vet to suggest the brushing supplies that he trusts, and be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people—the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat.  Brush your cat’s teeth at home by following these simple steps:
  • First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging her gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them.
  • After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on her lips to get her used to the taste.
  • Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for cats—it will be smaller than human toothbrushes and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your cat’s gums.
  • Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.
  • A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your cat’s gums are inflamed. Many cats have mild gingivitis and brushing too hard can hurt their gums.
Your cats health is your responsibility.  If you take care of them, they will cherish you with love for many years to come.  

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