Thursday, February 9, 2012

Home Dental Care Tips for Cats

February is annually known as Pet Dental Health Month. To maintain your cat's dental health and to reduce the frequency of needed dental procedures, home care is important. While a small percentage of cats have excellent dental health without any care, the majority will develop tartar, gingivitis and periodontal disease without consistent home care.

Your cat's teeth require cleaning and exercise. Cleaning the teeth removes plaque and bacteria to prevent tartar build up and decrease the amount of harmful bacteria that can pass through the gums. Exercising the teeth keeps the tissue that surrounds the tooth healthy. This helps prevent tooth loss and decreases pockets that can form between the tooth and gum which can collect tartar and bacteria. There are multiple methods to provide home care, depending on your cat's personality and tolerance, and your ability to provide treatment.

Tooth brushing: Brushing your cat's teeth is the single best method if cleaning his or her teeth. Most cats can be taught to accept tooth brushing if you gradually get them used to it. However, do not attempt if your cat is aggressive or prone to biting. Use a toothpaste made especially for cats such as C.E.T. which comes in either seafood or poultry flavors. Do not use human toothpaste - it will upset their stomach and the fluoride can be toxic.

Brushing your cat's teeth might seem difficult or even somewhat silly at first. Your cat may not be thrilled with the idea either, but it can and should be done. It may take a few weeks until your cat accepts tooth brushing. Go slowly and be patient. Offer a treat that your cat really enjoys after you work with your cat each day. You only need to brush the outer surfaces of the teeth, but you should try to brush all the teeth daily if possible. Here are the steps you can follow to get your cat to allow you to brush his or her teeth:
  1. Get your cat used to the flavor of the toothpaste. Place a small amount on your finger and let your cat lick it off.
  2. Get your cat used to having something put into his mouth. Place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and rub it over your cat's upper canine teeth. Every day, increase the amount of time and surface you cover.
  3. Get your cat used to the toothbrush. Place a small amount of toothpaste onto the brush and let your cat lick it off.
  4. Start brushing the outer surfaces of the teeth.

Dental Diets: Veterinary diets such as Hill's t/d, Purina DH or Royal Canin DD are proven to improve dental health. The kibble is larger to encourage chewing and exercise the teeth. The structure of the kibble is formulated to scrub the teeth as the cat chews. The Hill's diet is coated in hexametaphosphate which prevents the calcification of plaque. All three diets provide all the nutrients your cat needs so they can be the dry portion of your cat's diet or you can mix them into another dry diet.

Maxiguard OraZn Pet Oral Care: OraZn is a gel that reduces the deposition of plaque, aids in the reduction of gum inflammation, and neutralizes mouth odors. It contains Taurine which combines with the Zinc to kill bacteria and reduce the bacterial products that cause halitosis and make the gums more permeable to bacterial toxins. You apply a pea-sized droplet with your finger or a cotton swab onto the outside gum areas above the upper molars on each side of the mouth. Use daily for best results.

Maxiguard Oral Cleansing Gel: This is similar to OraZn but has Vitamin C added to help repair tissue. It is recommended for severe oral problems and after a dental procedure.

Oravet Sealant: Oravet is a waxy sealant that is applied to the outer surfaces of your cat's teeth at the end of his dental procedure. It significantly reduces plaque and tartar formation by creating an invisible barrier that prevents bacteria from attaching to your cat's teeth both above and below the gumline. You can then apply the home care Oravet to the outer surface of your cat's teeth once weekly to maintain the barrier against bacteria. It can be used along with brushing or dental chews.

Dental Chews: There are a variety of chews available. Most of them will exercise your cat's teeth and may help reduce plaque. C.E.T. chews have an antibacterial system and time-tested Dual-Enzyme System to control plaque and eliminate bacteria buildup. They can be fed as a treat once a day and come in poultry and fish flavors.

Dental Rinses: Dental rinses contain chlorheidine or xylitol to fight bacterial and reduce plaque build up. This will also help freshen your pet's breath. Chlorhexidine rinses must be applied directly into the mouth. They fight bacteria for up to twelve hours but can have a taste that is unacceptable to your cat. C.E.T. AquaDent contains xylitol which kills bacteria. It is easy to use - simply add 2 teaspoons to a quart of our cat's drinking water every day. However, when you first add any medication to your cat's water, you must make sure he will drink it. It is especially important if he has any medical problems that he continue to drink his water. Xylitol has been proven to reduce dental disease in humans, and it is safe for cats, but no research has shown how effective it is for their dental health.

All of the products mentioned above are available at Scottsdale Cat Clinic. If you are looking to purchase any of pet dental care products at the pet store or grocery store, it's best to look for products carrying the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal. In order to display the seal, the product must have good scientific research backing their claims.

For more information about these products or about your cat's dental health, please contact us by visiting our website.

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