Purrrrrrfect Teeth for Kitty

As you know, February is Pet Dental Health Month. Many veterinary offices around the country promote this event by offering discounted rates for professional teeth cleaning. So take advantage of any special offers, especially if you have more than one feline family member. All it takes is a quick phone call to your veterinarian.

Bad breath is often an indication of periodontal disease. This is a serious condition and affects about 70 percent of all cats over the age of three years. It can be very painful and result in loss of teeth. Also bacteria in the mouth can spread internally and cause severe medical conditions. Teeth cleaning should only be done by a qualified veterinary professional. Beware of casual non-anesthetic dental services advertised. Veterinarians also suggest that pet parents should brush their cats’ teeth daily using special cat toothbrushes and toothpaste. But as any feline pet parent will know, this is often easier said than done!

Consequently, it’s best to introduce brushing from kittenhood. Start by gently stroking your kitten’s jaws and slowly rub her gums with your fingers so that she gets used to the idea. If your cat simply won’t tolerate a brush, veterinary dentist Dr. Jan Bellows suggests dipping a Q- tip in tuna juice and rubbing it along the gum line. This gentle friction will stop tartar build-up. There are also special veterinary dental wipes and finger brushes that you can use in a similar fashion.

Finally, don’t forget some of the simple things you can do that go right along with other good daily habits. Fresh water should be available to your cat at all times, and adding a small amount of dental water additive (check to make sure it has a good active ingredient, like this one by Petrodex) will help keep plaque and bacteria down, which helps prevent tartar. Don’t worry if your cat shares a water bowl with a canine friend, as the additive is good for both species. And as treats are an important part of a cat’s enjoyment, look at special dental treats which are not only highly palatable (even for choosy cats), but create an oral environment that fights plaque as well.

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