Posted in cats, dogs, pet health, pets

Starting 2013 on the right paw

Here we are in a new year, getting started on the right paw, hopefully.

That said, your pet’s dental health may be the most influential in making it a good year. Depending on a pet’s age, a visit for a dental checkup and cleaning should be scheduled at least once a year, or more frequently if buildup of tartar is a concern.

It is not unusual for kittens and puppies to chew on household objects, just like babies do when teething. For example, the average kitty will have developed all its adult teeth by 6 months, shedding its baby teeth and hopefully retaining a full adult set of 30.

Like humans, a pet’s dental health is linked directly to the health of its gums. Some chronic illnesses may influence a pet’s dental health and lead to infection if not treated promptly.

There are brands of dry kibble available to help keep your pet’s mouth healthy, because they are designed for removing tartar and stimulating the gums. If your pet is on any special diet, or has a chronic health condition, you’ll want to check with your vet before changing any of your pet’s usual food.

If your pet shows any difficulty in eating, it may be that a tooth is infected or your pet’s gums are inflamed. Anything that interferes with eating can be quite serious, especially an abscessed tooth. Other signs that may indicate dental problems include drooling excessively, pawing at the mouth, chewing on furniture or other household items, and inflamed or bleeding gums. Have the vet check your pet as soon as possible if any of these symptoms appear.

Our cat Marbles, at the elderly age of 14 years, has had numerous dental issues. Last year she had one tooth removed at the vet’s. At that time, the vet noticed that many of her teeth had already decayed, leaving her with little to bite with. She is on a special diet so eating soft, canned food is not a problem for her. Sometimes I add a little water to make it easier to lap up her meal, but otherwise there is little else for her dental needs that I can do now.

Want to prevent tooth problems? From the time your pet is a puppy or kitten, you can train them to accept tooth brushing, but approach it cautiously. There are a number of toothpastes and toothbrushes available. Read the labels carefully, and check with the vet if you have any concerns about getting started brushing your pet’s teeth.

Maintaining a toothbrushing routine may be difficult, but pledging to make it a good year for your pet’s health couldn’t go wrong.

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Owned by three cats over age 13