Oliver prances over to greet his delectable dish of chicken filets smothered in gravy. Dinner is followed by a pat on the head and a tuna-flavored treat. Life may be good for Oliver the cat, but his oral hygiene is suffering. It may be time for a change in diet.
Food and Drink
Soft food can make your cat’s dental disease progress, according to Dr. Eric Barchas. Feed Oliver a dry kibble to help keep his teeth sharp and clean. Consult with your veterinarian about specific dry foods that help prevent dental disease. If your cat’s bad teeth become too corroded, your vet may suggest keeping Oliver on canned food to make it easier for him to eat. Preserve what good teeth your cat has left with a diet of crunchy ingredients if possible, as the abrasive foods help massage the gums and remove plaque. Oliver’s drinking water can reduce tarter and plaque build-up when you add a tarter control liquid supplement to his drinking bowl.
Chews and Treats
Cats suffering from dental disease should not be given chew toys that are harder than their teeth. Opt for cat chews that are dental-friendly and help fight against plaque, such as special catnip treats. Breath and dental care chews can help keep Oliver’s teeth clean and his breath smelling fresh. While it may not please your pooch, your cat may be able to chew on small, cylindrical rawhide bones to remove soft tarter and promote gum health.
Home Pet Care
Since Oliver can’t hold a toothbrush, he relies on you to prevent his bad teeth from becoming worse. Gels, pastes, sprays and other products can be used to clean your cat’s teeth, often found in appealing chicken or tuna flavors. Use a pediatric toothbrush or a finger brush and massage your cat’s lips, mouth, teeth and gums. Focus on the rear teeth and the base of Oliver’s canine teeth (fangs). Your cat will use his rough tongue to spread the toothpaste to the insides of his teeth. Brush your cat’s teeth for short periods of time and increase in duration as he gets used to the cleaning process. Make tooth brushing part of your daily regimen by cleaning your cat’s teeth every morning.
Regular Vet Visits
Cats with bad teeth often require a professional cleaning by your vet to remove debris and infection. This procedure is performed under anesthesia as the sound of the cleaning machine is usually too much for cats to handle. In more severe cases, bad teeth may need to be extracted, followed by a course of antibiotics and/or medication to prevent infection and control pain. Even with daily brushing, your cat may need a professional teeth cleaning once a year.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.