Dental care is just as important for our cats as it is for people since cats can also suffer from painful dental health issues like us. Our San Jose vets explain how to identify dental health problems in your cat, and how to treat or prevent these issues. We also share some benefits of professional pet dental cleaning and exams.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Your cat's oral health is closely linked to their overall health and wellbeing. Your cat's mouth, teeth, and gums are vitally important for a range of activities, from eating to vocalizing. When these oral structures become damaged or diseased and stop functioning properly, pain can become an issue. This interferes with your kitty's ability to communicate and eat normally.
In addition, bacteria and infections that lead to many oral health issues in cats won't be confined to your feline friend's mouth. Bacteria and untreated infections can enter the bloodstream and circulate through the rest of your cat's body, damaging important organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. This can lead to more serious consequences for your cat's overall health and longevity.
Signs of Cat Dental Issues That Pet Parents Should Watch For
While specific symptoms will vary depending on the dental health condition, if you notice any of these symptoms or behaviors, your cat is likely suffering from dental disease.
Some of the most common signs of dental disease in cats may include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Missing or losing teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your San Jose vet as soon as possible for a professional dental exam and teeth cleaning. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is to brush your cat's teeth regularly. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth
While this may seem far-fetched, if you begin the tooth brushing process while your feline friend is young, cat dental care can become a normal and stress-free part of your cat's daily routine. Here are some tips for brushing your cat's teeth.
- Gently lifting his lips, massage his teeth and gums for a few seconds using your finger.
- Start with low expectations and gradually build to more - you might only reach one or two teeth the first few times you try this. Stop before he becomes too annoyed.
- Offer lots of praise and a delicious treat after the teeth-and-gum massage. Your kitty might start by licking just a small dot of toothpaste from your finger (you might even have the chance to test different flavors). Look for a brush with soft bristles made for cats' delicate gums.
While some cat owners can successfully use a small piece of soft gauze to clean their feline's teeth, others end up using a finger brush. Another approach may be to apply dental gel to the teeth using a finger or toothbrush and letting the gel do the work.
When you do start brushing your cat's teeth, simply work calmly and quickly along the gum line. It may take weeks before your cat will tolerate having all his teeth cleaned in a single session.
If your cat won't tolerate you cleaning their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.
To keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition take your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Taking your kitty for a dental appointment is like taking your cat for a routine dentist appointment and will include a thorough examination of your cat's teeth as well as a deep cleaning and possibly even X-rays.