It is estimated that as many as two thirds of owners do not clean their feline’s teeth. However, proper dental care is just as important for your cat as it is for the human’s in your family. Although cats can manage without teeth, they really are a crucial part of her anatomy. Your feline friend is a predator by nature, and as such, he or she will use their teeth to help her catch and kill prey, even if she is fed at home. She will also consider them to be a line of self-defense and may feel vulnerable if they are compromised.
Just as our dental health can impact on our overall wellbeing, so too can your pet’s. One of the most common conditions affecting a pet’s dental health is periodontal disease. In fact, it is estimated that 8 in 10 cats over the age of 3 have some degree of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is particularly important to avoid as the damage caused by it is irreversible, and once diagnosed, the best that you and our veterinary dentist at Memphis Animal Clinic can do is to halt its progression. Periodontal disease occurs in stages. In it’s earliest stage, it is little more than a nuisance and can be easily overlooked as symptoms are minimal. However, as it progresses, it can cause a range of debilitating symptoms including severe pain, tooth loss and prolonged infections. These infections can quickly enter the blood stream and pass to other organs in the body, causing a range of chronic and severe general health problems.
Although your cat can’t speak, she may display some of the following symptoms which could indicate that she is suffering from a dental problem.
- Yellow, brown or otherwise discolored teeth
- Teeth than look broken or damaged
- Bad breath
- Swollen, red gums
- Inflammation of the mouth, jaw or face
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling or discharge from the mouth
- Loose/lost teeth
- Obvious pain
If you believe that your furry feline has a dental problem, it is essential that you make an appointment with Memphis Animal Clinic as soon as possible. Obtaining an early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent any conditions from worsening and having further impact on your kitty’s teeth or her wider health.
Although periodontal disease sounds scary, brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is your best defense. Daily is optimal, but even just once a week can help prevent the development of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease and tooth decay are both caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Unless brushed away, the bacteria in this plaque will produce acid that erodes the teeth and irritates the gums. However, when you brush regularly, you remove these bacteria before they have the opportunity to damage your kitty’s teeth and gums, which will help keep them healthy.
It is understandable to think that brushing your kitty’s teeth must be a near-impossible task. However, many cats actually enjoy the attention that they receive while you are brushing and learn to tolerate it quickly.
Speak to our veterinarian or veterinary nurse at Memphis Animal Clinic and ask them to demonstrate the best way to brush your feline’s teeth. Ideally you should start brushing her teeth as soon as her adult teeth come in. This will embed the action into her daily routine from a young age and make her much more amenable to the process.
Choose a toothbrush with a small head, as this will be easier to maneuver in your kitty’s mouth. You should only ever opt for toothpaste that is approved for feline use, as human toothpaste can be toxic to them. Cat toothpastes tend to taste like chicken or malt, which helps make them more appealing to your kitty, and you only need a tiny amount to be effective.
If you have any questions about your pet’s dental health, or you would like some general information on the importance of brushing your cat’s teeth, contact and speak to our veterinarian at Memphis Animal Clinic today.