Thursday, February 9, 2012
February Is Feline Dental Health Month
A Guest Post from VetDepot.com
Protect Your Cat's Teeth and Health with Regular Feline Dental Care
The overall health of your cat depends on the health of his teeth and gums. In fact, dental disease is the leading cause of health problems in cats- leading to heart disease, kidney problems, and other conditions. Fortunately, routine examinations and proper dental care can prevent most dental problems in cats, especially when started early in life.
An estimated 70 percent of cats begin exhibiting signs associated with oral disease by their third birthday, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, and poor oral health increases the risk of lung and heart disease and decreases quality of life.
One potentially serious condition, periodontal disease, is very common in cats. Periodontal disease is a progressive infection of the tissue that surrounds your cat's teeth. It begins as plaque and tartar accumulation but can quickly progress to gingivitis, a condition that involves inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, periodontal disease destroys the tissue around the teeth, leading to pain and tooth loss. Preventing periodontal disease and other threats requires routine veterinary dental care.
Professional Dental Care for Cats:
Ideally, you should introduce professional veterinary dental care during your cat's first year of life. Your veterinarian will monitor the development of your cat's teeth and perform routine examinations and cleanings to detect and treat dental problems early. After your cat's first birthday, the American Animal Hospital Association recommends visiting your veterinarian every year for a comprehensive dental examination.
Home Dental Care for Cats:
Between office visits, it is important to take care of your cat's teeth at home. Regular brushing and a proper diet are essential for promoting oral health and preventing tooth decay. Brush daily or as often as possible using finger gauze or a toothbrush for cats. Pay close attention to the gum line and the spaces between teeth, and only use toothpaste made specifically for cats. If your pet resists brushing, gradually introduce the process over a period of days or weeks.
Use foods and other products designed to combat tartar and plaque buildup, such as CET Dental Chews or drinking water additives. These will go a long way toward protecting your cat's dental health between brushings. Examine your cat's mouth and teeth regularly to look for signs of gum disease, loose or broken teeth, or other problems. Smell your cat's breath often; breath odor is a good indication of your pet's dental health. Call your veterinarian for a prompt appointment if you discover anything concerning or have questions.
Some symptoms require immediate veterinary attention, including unusual growths in the mouth or throat, broken teeth, pus or blood in the mouth, refusal to eat or drink, or a foreign body lodged in the teeth, mouth, or throat.
Routine dental care and cleanings, comprehensive examinations, and proper home care will protect your cat's teeth and health. Speak with your veterinarian about developing a dental care plan for your cat.