Five tips to help you support your feline friend’s dental hygiene
In a previous blog (Happy, Healthy Cats…) we mentioned the impact that dental hygiene can have on your feline friends and the sad fact that this is often an area that is overlooked. The reality is that by adopting a few positive habits and practices we can have a hugely beneficial impact on our cats’ health and well-being! Plus, we get to clean our cats’ teeth (body protection optional…!)
In this article, Head Nurse Nora explains why dental hygiene is so important for feline well-being and shares her 5 top tips for any cat owner wanting to do the best for their cat.
The “Silent Epidemic”
This is the phrase we used previously to describe the challenge that poor dental health and hygiene has within the feline population and whilst it may sound dramatic, it is unfortunately very true. We all know the pain and stress that toothache can bring and I’m sure none of us would wait a second longer than necessary to visit our own dentist.
Cats, however, are almost genetically programmed to accept pain rather than show weakness and will carry on with their everyday lives in a manner that may seem as if nothing is wrong… maybe a little less perky or interactive… but to the untrained eye they may seem “ok”.
The fact is that chronic dental disease leads to further infections, illness and health challenges as well as a far reduced quality of life and therefore potentially length of life. So, it’s no exaggeration that clean teeth could be a matter of life and death… ok, not straight away but a lot sooner than necessary.
Luckily, there are a number of ways that we, as the loving human servants/companions, can help our feline friends achieve a better level of dental hygiene and therefore a bigger dose of daily fun and frolics.
Head Nurse Nora’s 5 Top Tips
1. Look out for changes at home
Be aware of any changes to your cat’s eating / grooming behaviour at home. Many cats with dental impairment will avoid dry food, may drink excessively, or stop grooming themselves. Grooming is an important part of any cat’s life, and a cat who stops doing so is often in pain. While this may be associated with osteoarthritis or other illness, it is very common to be associated with dental disease. You know your cat(s) better than anyone, so if you think something is not quite right with them, it’s time for a check-up!
2. Maintain regular veterinary check-ups
Healthy adult cats need a veterinary check-up at least once a year. Younger and older cats require more frequent checks. Dental health is always checked by a veterinarian, both during routine and non-routine appointments, so please do make sure that you are up to date with these preventative check-ups, it could be crucial. The veterinary team will update your pet’s medical notes to record any dental issues evident and will want to monitor progress at every opportunity.
Veterinarians and veterinary nurses will be trained in dental health as part of their standard education, however, as dental well-being is recognized as a both a health and welfare issue (and an area that the GVC clinical team are extremely passionate about) our vets and nurses received advanced dental health and surgical training from a world renowned veterinary dental expert earlier this year.
We pride ourselves on providing the highest level of dental expertise in Abu Dhabi and as part of our innovative Pet Health Club package, you’ll receive a free nurse consult as well as preferential rates for dental work…so no excuses!
3. Brush your cat’s teeth!
For the gold standard in preventative care, you can introduce brushing your cat’s teeth. This is hugely successful in reducing the need for surgical intervention and can become part of your cat’s daily routine! It sounds a bit more daunting than it is… and the vets and nurses at GVC are the best advocates to speak to about this. A couple of key points to remember though!
- NEVER use human toothpaste – instead get a cat friendly poultry flavoured paste!
- Introduce slowly- get your cat used to the sight and smell of the brush and paste BEFORE brushing
- Get training! Our cat friendly nurses would be delighted to show you all the steps needed, either here at the clinic, or in the comfort of your home.
4. Use dental food
If tooth brushing is not agreeable with you and your cat – dental food is a great option (although not a direct alternative)!
Veterinary prescribed dental food can work well as an aid to better dental hygiene.
The food pieces are large and hard, providing a mechanical mechanism that cleans the teeth. Cats have to forcefully chew down before swallowing, allowing the hard pieces to help break down plaque on teeth. It also combines special ingredients that prevent the minerals in food to bind to the teeth. The combination of these actions make it an ideal choice for supplementing your cat’s dental health regime (and you will receive a preferential price for all of our food products through the Pet Health Club)!
5.Give your cat Plaque Off
Another great, non-invasive option to help preserve your cat’s dental health is to use Plaque Off sprinkled on every meal! Plaque Off is an algae- derived powder that acts naturally to prevent bad breath , and is clinically proven to reduce tartar and plaque in cats. Its special cat formulation contains brewer’s yeast which cats find highly palatable (YUMMY)!
OK, so cleaning your cat’s teeth may take a little bit of time to learn and although the trickiest of the tips mentioned, it does have the greatest benefits. The rest are small, simple enhancements to existing routines, all of which will certainly help. We do of course suggest that the first step is to visit your vet as having the right information will always aid in making the best decisions.
Here at GVC we utilize the latest technology to aid diagnostics and deliver clinical excellence and as the first clinic in the Middle East to receive the ISFM Gold Standard Cat Friendly Clinic award, providing the very best feline health care and dental hygiene really is what we do best.