By Roslyn Ayers, PetSafe Web Content Specialist
Many people wonder if their pets really need to have their teeth cleaned. Some wonder if it’s only dogs or older pets that do. The answer is a definite yes for all pets. I found that out at last year’s vet visit, when I got a nasty surprise about our cats’ teeth.
Our 3 Persian cats hadn’t been to the vet in a few years. “They’re only 4 years old and strictly indoor cats, so it’s not a big deal,” we said. When we finally brought the cats to the vet for some rabies boosters, the vet checked their teeth and found some serious problems. All 3 cats had signs of tooth resorption, known also as FORLs or incorrectly as “cat cavities.”
Basically, our cats’ teeth were developing lesions or holes, leaving them with painfully disintegrating teeth. Tooth resorption is a common condition that affects up to 50% of cats. If you’ve got a purebred cat, watch out, because they’re more likely to develop FORLs at a younger age. Other at-risk cats include those aged 4-6 years, indoor cats, cats who drink tap water, and cats who have already developed FORLs. Dogs can also be affected by this disease, although it’s much less common.
The solution: a thorough teeth cleaning and extraction of any severely compromised teeth. Our vet assured us this was 100% necessary and that they would be much happier cats afterwards. Imagine having not just one toothache but 10 toothaches! We also took advantage of the vet’s 20% discount to dental work in February. The cats’ teeth were so bad the vet had to pull 9-11 teeth per cat. That’s 29 teeth total!
After surgery, the cats were not happy campers at first. Daily antibiotics and pain medication made it easier for them, not to mention plenty of wet food, and after 2 weeks they were healed. The difference in their demeanor has been noticeable. Now they are more affectionate, more playful, and more talkative. Despite the risks of any surgery, the benefits far outweighed them for our situation.
How can you prevent dental problems in your pets?
- Annual vet checkup and teeth cleaning
- Preventive treatments at home
- Watch for signs of dental discomfort
Have your vet check for dental warning signs before they become a problem. Annual vet visits and teeth cleaning could probably have prevented the tooth loss in our cats. They’re scheduled to go to the vet this month for their annual checkup and teeth cleaning. We have to watch the cats carefully from now on and brush their (remaining) teeth at home a few times a week. We also regularly replace the filter in our Drinkwell fountain so the cats get clean, filtered water every day.
It’s hard to detect medical problems in pets because they can be so good at hiding signs of pain. Some signs of dental distress to watch for include bleeding and inflammation of the gums, lots of calculus/tartar on your pet’s teeth, trouble eating and chewing, and missing teeth.
Dogs and cats are both susceptible to dental diseases. While tooth resorption is much more common in cats than in dogs, it’s still important to have your canine companion’s teeth checked; he values his choppers just as much as his feline cousins.
Has your pet ever had a problem with his teeth? Come back tomorrow to learn how you should care for your pet’s teeth.
At PetSafe’s Knoxville headquarters, Roslyn Ayers is the Web Content Specialist. Roslyn comes from a family of animal lovers and has a B.A. in Writing/Communications from Maryville College. She has volunteered with various animal rescues in Tennessee and South Carolina. Roslyn currently shares her home with four cats.