Did you know that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Did you also know…
- Oral health is the number one issue for cats today.
- Oral care concerns impact almost 70% of cats
- Around 80% of cats with periodontal disease show symptoms by the time they turn 3 years old.
Many of these cats will not receive any home care for their teeth, and their condition will only get worse over time.
A cat parent can detect a problem with their pet’s chompers by checking their cat’s breath, looking for red or swollen gums, yellow deposits or pus on their teeth, and watching to see if their cat drools or paws at their face. If infected, the bacteria can ultimately invade the blood stream and lead to damaging consequences to your cat’s kidneys, heart, liver and other organs.
A proper and thorough home dental care routine will go a long way to preserving your cat’s teeth and maintaining his overall health. Here are some notable feline dental facts.
Credit: Infographic courtesy of American Association of Feline Practitioners
Cats are excellent at self-grooming, taking care of every speck from whisker to tail. However, their dental health needs to be taken into consideration.
Here’s what you can do for them at home between vet visits:
1. Brush Their Teeth
Brushing is best and we cat parents should regularly brush our fur babies’ teeth, but let’s be realistic. If they didn’t get started at a young age, a lot of cats simply won’t allow it. Don’t get carried away and come at your adult cat with toothbrush and toothpaste in a single day. You can do it. Begin by gently touching your cat’s mouth while you cuddle him. Gently pull up his lip to look at his teeth and touch a tooth. From there, move gently.
Try to work up to brushing once, twice or, ideally, three times a week. If a toothbrush scares your cat, you can get nearly the same result by wiping his teeth with a gauze pad or dental wipe from your local pet store.
Caution: Always be sure to use a toothpaste formulated for cats and never use a human toothpaste. These are some quality and reputable oral care kits: SENTRY Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats, Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit or the Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Kit.
2. Choose a high-quality, dental-friendly food
A dental formula food may be recommended by your vet. These have larger-than-average “nuggets” designed to reduce plaque and tartar through chewing. We suggest Royal Canin’s Feline Dental DryCat food that is balanced and complete, which provides nutrition for adult cats. The kibbles are designed to encourage chewing and help control plaque and tartar. The kibble’s shape and texture create a gentle abrasive action on the teeth while chewing. This mechanical action creates a brushing effect that reduces the accumulation of calculus and dental plaque. Kitty will be proud of her pearly whites.
“Cat owners should make it a priority to see their veterinarian annually to ensure a cat’s optimal health,” says Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinary nutritionist and Royal Canin Scientific Affairs Manager. “A large contributor to a cat’s health is its nutrition, and Royal Canin offers several diets that provide precise nutrition for various needs. Royal Canin, for example, offers a feline diet that helps control plaque and tartar. It also has kibbles that encourage chewing.”
3. Consider a Dental Rinse
One of the most recent innovations in home dental care is an oral rinse that kills bacteria in your cat’s mouth. Ask your cat’s veterinarian if this might be helpful for your cat — especially if your feline friend turns feisty and refuses to cooperate for brushing. Instead of brushing your cat, use a simple squirt dental rinse instead. Chlorhexadine-gluconate oral rinses are effective antiseptics. They bind to the gum tissues and tooth surfaces. They kill bacteria, reduce plaque buildup and slow down the accumulation tartar. Rinses can be used as a supplement to brushing or alone. Here are three reputable oral rinse products: Premium Pet Dental Spray, Nutri-Vet Breath Fresh Dental Rinse for Cats and Dentahex Oral Rinse Solution.
Only use toothpastes or dental rinses that have been specifically designed for cats. Remember that your cat will be swallowing these products, so you want to ensure that they don’t contain foaming detergents and harsh abrasives that human variations include. Veterinary Oral Health Council seals are those that have met standards that have been proven to slow down the accumulation of plaque or tartar.
4. Let them play with dental balls
Another option is toying around — no kitty can resist playtime so take advantage of it with the toys that yield some medical magic in their mouths. Consider a dental health cat chew toy. These cat chew toys are typically filled with catnip and fibrous catnip stalks to satisfy your cat’s natural desire to crunch and chew. PLAYAYIQ Treat Ball (photo above) is loved by our cats.
They can clean your cat’s teeth and massage their gums to improve their dental health.
* On a side note: Did you hear about the feline dentist of the year? All she received for her work was a little plaque! 😹
February is more than just a call to dental health awareness, it’s also National Cat Health Month and a purrfect reminder to schedule your annual vet visit.
The infographic below was created by the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners). It outlines 5 compelling reasons to include routine vet visits for your cat, as well as some tips and tricks for feline health.
10 Tips for Feline Wellness
1. Make Yearly Vet Checks a Routine — Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian. For all cats, preventive care examinations and check-ups should be performed at least once per year. Senior cats and those with chronic conditions need to be seen more often. During the physical examination, veterinarians assess your cats current health, and also can often detect conditions that may affect your cat’s health long before they become significant so they can be managed or cured before they become painful or more costly. Regular veterinary checks are necessary for cats to live longer, happier, healthier lives.
2. Don’t Rely on Google — Any time there is a change with your cat, don’t assume the problem is behavioral – there may be a medical explanation. Don’t rely on Google for answers – contact your veterinarian.
3. Regularly check your weight — Almost 60% of indoor cats are overweight or obese, which can impact your cat’s quality of life. Although it can be difficult to see, even a small amount of weight gain can have serious health consequences and risk. That’s just one reason why a yearly wellness exam with your veterinarian is so important.
4. Create a Comfy Environment — Addressing your cat’s physical, emotional, and environmental needs enhances their health and quality of life. Cats require special resources to enable them to behave naturally and exercise control over their social interactions. As owners, we can enhance our cats’ health and wellbeing by ensuring all their needs are met in the home environment. Learn more about the 5 pillars that make a healthy cat environment.
5. Get the scoop — Check the litter box. If there has been any behavioral or physical changes to your cat’s elimination, be sure to see your veterinarian. These could be signs of a medical problem or aversion to litter. Set your cat up to succeed in the litter box.
6. “Brush Up” on Your Cat’s Oral Care — (see above) Did you know that periodontal disease is considered the most prevalent disease in cats three years of age and older? If your cat has painful teeth or gums, tartar, gingivitis, or if you’ve noticed a foul odor coming from your cat’s mouth, their teeth should be professionally cleaned before you begin a home-care routine. Talk to your veterinarian about tooth brushing and home-care.
7. Give Your Cat the Best & Visit a CFP — Commit to giving your cat the very best in feline health care and visit a Cat Friendly Practice (CFP). CFPs have committed to reducing stress associated with the visit and creating a calmer environment. They have taken extra steps to assure they understand a cat’s unique needs and utilize feline-friendly handling in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.
8. It’s Okay to be Picky, But Not TOO Picky — Some cats are particular, but many times there may be a medical explanation for any new erratic eating behaviors (unless the cat has always been this way). The issue could be a gastrointestinal problem, diabetes, or any number of other problems – don’t wait, contact your veterinarian. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat isn’t eating for more than 24 hours.
9. Be on the lookout for changes in sleeping habits — Vocalizing and/or sleeping when your cat typically wouldn’t (changes such as pacing and “talking” overnight, or sleeping more during the day) combined with general confusion and/or personality changes (previously outgoing cat becomes a “wallflower”) can be signs of a medical issue such as feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome (“Kitty Alzheimer’s”) in an older cat. Contact your veterinarian right away.
10. Reduce the stress of vet visits — 58% of cat owners say their cat hates going to the vet. Visit a Cat Friendly Practice to make your vet visits less stressful for you and your cat. CFP-designated practices take great measures to provide a more calm environment for cats. Stress associated with vet visits begins at home. Don’t forget to acclimate your cat to its carrier by making it a familiar place.
Even though February is National Pet Dental Health Month – dental health should be a routine for cat owners all year. Drop us a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box below or better yet email us a photo of your cats’ pearly whites!