Your feline friend’s stinky breath may be the running joke in your family, but it could be a sign of a deeper issue. It’s time to get serious about your pet’s dental health because, just like you, cats require regular dental exams and cleanings. Left unchecked, cats can develop a dental disease or even suffer from mouth pain that they’re unable to communicate to you. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your vet for a dental checkup, but there are things you can do along the way to monitor your pet’s dental health.
Between dental check up visits to the vet, pay special attention to these four things:
Breath – Chances are your cat’s breath won’t be minty fresh but it shouldn’t be foul 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.” (Pets.WebMD.com)
Gums – The appearance of red, inflamed gums is a sign that it’s time to call the vet. Inflammation can be an indicator of infections or ailments even beyond those related to your pet’s dental health, such as kidney disease. Advancing stages of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, pain, or being unable to eat. When you check your cat’s gums, they should appear firm and pink.
Teeth – Monitor your cat’s teeth for any changes. His teeth should be white, without signs of browning or tartar buildup. Also, take this opportunity to check for any broken or loose teeth. If your dentist recommends beginning an oral hygiene routine for your cat, remember to ease into it. “Unlike dogs, cats are very individualistic in their acceptance of home oral hygiene. Try several options (brushing, finger-brushing, dental rinses or gels, dental diets) to find those techniques and products that your cat best tolerates. Some cats are very particular about new flavors. Patience and a gentle approach will yield the best results.” (AVDC.org)
Behavioral Changes – Unfortunately, our pets can’t communicate with us directly if something is wrong so it’s up to use to pay attention to what their behavior is telling us. Sudden changes in your cat’s eating habits, pawing at the mouth, or excessive drooling are all signs that your cat may be experiencing some pain.
Dental health is a major factor in the overall quality of life for your cat. Pain or discomfort in the mouth is not only unpleasant, it can lead to your furry friend avoiding eating which, in turn, leads to additional complications. A little monitoring and maintenance can go a long way in preventing more serious developments down the road. At your next dental checkup, talk to your vet about what you can do to improve or maintain your cat’s pearly whites at home.