Dental health is essential for ensuring a happy and healthy cat. Dental disease is the most common disease that we see in our cats and can affect cats of any age. It is important to start dental care early, to set up success for oral health long term, but starting dental care at any point in your cats life is still going to be extremely beneficial.
Dental disease is one of the most common illnesses that veterinarians see in cats over three years of age – your cat may be experiencing dental disease and hiding it from you. Here are some symptoms that could indicate your cat is suffering from dental diseases such as periodontal disease, gingivitis, and cervical neck lesions also called oral resorptive lesions.
Signs & Symptoms:
- Appears hungry but will not attempt to eat (sniffs food and walks away)
- Decreased interest in food
- Reluctance to eat or chew food
- Food will drop out of the mouth when trying to eat
- Chews from only one side of their mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blood tinged saliva
- Halitosis – bad breath
- They may paw at their mouth or shake their head
- Weight loss due to the reluctance or inability to eat
- Prefers only canned food as this can be swallowed rather than chewed.
Feline Tooth Resorption
It is a common condition that can affect up to 60 % of all cats in some form, with the majority of those cats being 5 years of age or older. Feline tooth resorption starts as the loss of the tooth enamel and then results in the eventual destruction of the teeth. Unfortunately, it is not yet known why tooth resorption occurs and the only known treatment is an extraction of the affected and painful teeth.
A cat may experience pain when it bites down on food or if the tooth is touched during an oral exam. The affected cat appears to be hungry and attempts to eat, but experiences difficulty doing so. Warning signs of tooth resorption can be a cat that has a head tilt while trying to eat, trying to chew with one side of its mouth, food falling or dropping from its mouth, unable to eat any dry food, as well as gulping or swallowing food whole.
Oral health is crucial to monitor dental changes within your cat’s mouth and prevent this disease from taking hold; having an annual health examination which includes an oral health exam is an essential part of your cats’ wellness routine. Working closely with your veterinary team helps keep your feline friend happy and healthy for many years to come.
Written by: Marie Hearn, Clinic Manager