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6 Steps You Can Take to Care for Your Cat's Teeth

 by petbucket on 30 Apr 2015 |
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One of the most common problems that veterinarians report seeing in cats is poor dental hygiene. Since you probably don't get that many opportunities to see your kitty's teeth, it can be easy to forget that they need care, and many cat owners go for years without ever addressing their pets' dental health. Unfortunately, many cats struggle with tooth decay and gum disease, and you might not always know if your feline friend is one of them. Left untreated for too long, dental issues can lead to much more serious health problems including heart disease and cancer. Here is a look at six steps you can take to care for you cat's teeth and ensure that they don't cause discomfort or other complications.

1. Take a Whiff - Have you always written off Fluffy's terrible breath as something that's unavoidable? In reality, cats shouldn't have bad breath as long as their teeth and gums are healthy. Obviously, kitties' mouths aren't likely to smell great all the time (especially after eating), but if you've noticed an extremely strong, lingering odor, then it's time to consider a trip to the vet.

2. Look Closely - As you spend time with your cat, there are likely to be plenty of opportunities to peek inside his mouth. Try to take a good look the next time catch your kitty meowing or yawning, and keep an eye out for common indicators of dental or periodontal disease, including swollen gums, bleeding, discolored teeth, or pus.

3. Watch Out for Hints - Cats tend to be very stoic animals, and many of them won't show any obvious signs that they are in pain from dental problems. It's important, therefore, for you to be a good detective, and watch out for any hints from your kitty that she might be having problems with her mouth. Slow eating or a decrease in appetite could both be signs that your cat is suffering from pain. She might also paw at her mouth often or struggle with excessive drooling. 

4. Brush Teeth Regularly - The simplest way to prevent dental issues for your cat is to brush his teeth regularly. You may be wary about how your cat will react to home brushings, but you are much more likely to be successful if you ease your pet into the idea. Begin by spending some time touching Kitty's teeth and gums with a finger or some gauze dipped in chicken broth or tuna juice. Next, let your cat lick some treats off the toothbrush before switching to kitty toothpaste with a tempting flavour. Finally, you can try brushing gently, paying the closest attention to your cat's canines and molars. If you repeat this routine weekly, you should see a noticeable decrease in tartar buildup before long. 

5. Dry Food and Dental Treats - While wet cat food will just coat Tiger's teeth with plaque-causing particles, dry food is hard enough that it should scrape away some of the tartar if your cat eats it often. You can also find dedicated dental chews at your local pet store in order to help clean your kitty's teeth without too much effort on your part.

6. Regular Cleanings - Just as people are supposed to make routine visits to the dentist, you should occasionally have the vet give your kitty a more thorough teeth cleaning. These procedures are performed under general anaesthesia and they typically include plaque removal, scaling, and fluoride treatment. Most cats only need professional cleanings a few times in their lives, but you should ask your vet what she recommends.

Putting a little extra effort into caring for your kitty's teeth might seem like a big ordeal, but you'll be amazed how much it can help. You owe it to your cat to do everything you can to be a good owner, and maintaining Fluffy's oral health is just one part of the commitment you make when you adopt a feline pal.

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