The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and several veterinary groups are sponsoring National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness of the need for proper dental care for our pets and to assist pet parents to improve our pets’ dental and overall health.
Like people, cats need regular tooth brushing and check-ups. Poor dental hygiene can lead to internal organ damage for cats as it can for humans.
If your cat has fish breath, it isn’t normal. There can be much more going on in your cat’s mouth than just bad breath. People get periodontal disease, and cats get it, too. Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the gums and loss of supporting structures of the teeth. Periodontal disease is characterized by:
- Gingivitis: Build-up of bacteria and food particles along the gum line that forms plaque. Plaque mineralizes into tartar after a few days. The gums get inflamed, a.k.a., gingivitis. If you see redness on your cat’s gums, that’s gingivitis. Fishy smelling breath is from gingivitis. The good thing is, dental problems at this stage are reversible.
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis is irreversible. It’s characterized by gum redness and swelling, 10-30% bone loss, gums that easily bleed when touched and gum shrinkage or overgrowth. The symptoms of end-stage periodontitis show severe inflammation, over 30% bone loss, loose or missing teeth, gum shrinkage, pus, gums that bleed easily and deep pockets.
Pet parents can do a great deal to improve their cats’ dental health besides regular veterinarian visits that include an oral exam. A cat’s teeth should be brushed , but not with toothpaste meant for people. Choose a toothpaste made especially for cats in a flavor she likes. Kits are available with toothpaste and a special-angled toothbrush.