When our son was in the first grade, we adopted our first kitten. As she grew, leaving kittenhood behind, she also left behind her baby teeth, one of which we found somewhere in the house. Since Ben was losing his baby teeth too at that time, the first thought was to put the cat’s tooth under her bed for the Tooth Fairy to find.
But in the morning, Marbles didn’t find a catnip toy nor even a marble to play with. She certainly didn’t expect anything, but it was a challenge to explain to our son why the Tooth Fairy was so selective in her rewards.
Kittens and puppies do have a period during which they teethe just like human babies do. We don’t often think to offer our pets something appropriate to chew on, even though there are a fair number of products out there for just that purpose, including bones and tartar control treats and teething toys. It beats finding a cardboard box with chew marks on it or that your favorite sneakers are missing the ends of the laces.
By six months, an average kitty or puppy will have developed all its adult teeth, which is why your veterinarian will often gently pry open your pet’s mouth to have a look. Healthy gums should be pink, firm, and with little redness. Some pets may have different pigmentation of the gums due to their unique coloring, but your vet will know what looks healthy in spite of that.
Disease will often present signs at first in an animal’s mouth so at least a yearly oral exam is wise for your pets. The main harbinger of dental woes or digestive disorders may be bad breath, so if your pet can knock you out with halitosis, make an appointment to see the vet.
If you notice your pet has difficulty in eating, it may indicate a broken or abscessed tooth, or painful sores which should be treated as soon as possible.
Inflamed gums can cause bad breath and can be treated too, and there are a number of tartar control treats and foods for pets that can help stimulate their gums and clean their teeth.
Ask the vet what is available, especially if your pet has food sensitivities or dietary concerns like diabetes to consider.
If you’re keen to try, brushing your pet’s teeth is the ultimate solution. Toothpastes and toothbrushes for pets are out in numerous flavors and sizes and shapes. Your vet can assist you in choosing what may work best for you and your pet. Just go slowly and cautiously – you don’t want to be bitten.
Read the labels carefully. Be cautious and aware of your pet’s reaction to the process and whatever product you’ve chosen to try.
The investment of effort will be worth it if it means a longer life and better health for your pet.