By caring for your cat’s dental health now, you can keep him healthy well into the future. Without proper care, he could experience serious issues from damage to the tongue, teeth, palate, and gums. “Untreated periodontal infections often lead to more serious health problems because of chronic pain and infection, and subsequent stress on the immune system,” says AVMA President René Carlson, DVM. “These untreated conditions can then lead to heart valve disease, kidney disease, and even diabetes and cancer, not to mention the significant discomfort associated with dental infections.”
Follow these tips to keep his breath fresh, and more importantly, his health in the clear:
- Perform a breath test, sniffing out any offensive odors that may indicate digestive or gum issues. If the odor is foul, take your kitty to the veterinarian.
- Check the gums and teeth, making sure the gums are firm and pink, and the teeth clean and white. If the gums are white, red, or swollen, or the teeth are brown, loose, or broken, head to the vet.
- Look for additional symptoms, checking for a red line along the gums, ulcers, pus, or excessive drooling. If you see any of these issues, it’s vet time.
- Brush his teeth, starting by massaging his gums using your fingers or a cotton swab, and continuing by putting cat toothpaste on his gums before using a handheld or finger cat toothbrush to gently brush. “Ask your vet to suggest the brushing supplies that he trusts, and be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people—the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat,” writes the ASPCA.