Previously I discussed how good dogs are at hiding their dental disease. Well guess what? Cats are even better at hiding it!
Owners are sometimes in shock when, during a routine consultation, they are informed that their cat has an infected or broken tooth. This surprise usually comes from the fact that their cat never displayed any obvious signs of pain or discomfort and they have been eating quite well.
Cats with dental disease typically display one or all of the following clinical signs:
-Swollen face or jaw
-Chewing oddly (almost as if they have a foul taste in their mouth)
-Inappetance (which can lead to weight loss)
-Rubbing at face
-Pain (vocalising, hiding away, not themselves etc.)
Periodontal disease is by far one of the most common chronic diseases processes affecting cats. This is something we discover routinely, even in young cats! Typically, you notice inflamed and reddened gums and yellow discolouration on the teeth (tartar). If there is a severe tartar or plaque build-up, then a quick general anaesthetic and dental scale is recommended as the first line of treatment.
Home-care is by far the most important step in the management of dental disease.
Diet is an incredibly important factor when discussing dental health. Avoid feeding your cat poor quality diets or soft foods (such as tinned food or meat) as this promotes tartar and plaque build-up. There’s a reason the saying “You are what you eat” exists! Instead of spending your money on poor quality supermarket food and ruining your cat’s teeth you should invest in higher quality dry food; you will save FAR more in the long run. This is where premium dental prescription diets (such as Hill’s feline t/d diet) truly shine as they are especially formulated to help reduce tartar/plaque build-up.
Raw bones also have a place in managing dental disease. Cats can devour an entire rabbit or mouse so don’t be fooled into thinking they can’t eat raw bones! When feeding raw bones to cats you must be sure that the bones are small enough that your cat can chew on them properly. Some examples include chicken necks, ribs and wings.
Owners can sometimes even consider brushing their cat’s teeth! This will definitely pose as a challenge for middle aged or older cats that have never been exposed to such a sensation! However, we often see good results in younger cats getting used to having their teeth cleaned. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t try to brush all your cat’s teeth in one session, pace yourself over the course of weeks to get them desensitized and used to the taste and sensation. If they tolerate it and you can perform in a few times a week then you can drastically reduce the future build-up of plaque and tartar.
At the end of the day, if your cat is non-compliant, then book them in for regular dental scales – such as every 6 to 12 months. This may sound like an expensive option but is in fact cheaper in the long run. Your cat will only be exposed to a short general anaesthetic and 10-15 minute dental scale. This is in contrast to your cat requiring a massive and very expensive dental procedure every few years; including tooth extractions, dental x-rays and long courses of medication (antibiotics, pain relief).
Call us now on 9439 0004