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Cat getting its teeth brushed with a toothbrush

Cat Dental Care

We take the oral health of our patients very seriously. Dental problems left untreated can be very painful for your cat. Problems in the mouth can also affect other organs such as kidneys and the heart.

What is involved in a dental cleaning procedure?

Dental cleanings or COHAT (complete oral health assessment and treatments) are done under general anesthesia, using a combination of analgesics (pain killers) and sedatives, along with an inhalant gas to maintain anesthesia. This is the only way to perform a thorough oral examination, which always includes full mouth dental radiographs. Akin to the iceberg analogy, the crown or visible portion of the tooth is just a small part of the overall tooth anatomy, with over 50% residing underneath the gum line (the tooth roots). Once every tooth has been examined radiographically to determine whether any hidden disease is present, each tooth is thoroughly cleaned around its entire circumference, both above (subgingival) and below (supragingival) the gum line. While cleaning off visible tartar gives the impression of a clean mouth, it is the buildup of plaque and tartar underneath the gum line that contributes significantly to dental disease. Therefore, thorough subgingival cleaning is arguably the most important part of the COHAT procedure for teeth that do not require extraction.

What are the signs of dental problems in cats?

Cats are notorious for not displaying outward signs of oral disease and pain; a survival mechanism developed over thousands of years of evolution. Frequent oral examinations can be prudent in the early detection of dental disease, including tartar build-up, bleeding, and/or redness of the gums (gingivitis). In some cases, though, cats will display subtle outward signs of oral disease, including pawing at their face, shifting food to one side of their mouth for chewing, drooling, halitosis (bad breath), or ceasing chewing altogether and swallowing food whole.

Are some feline breeds more susceptible than others?

For the most part, all breeds of cats are equally susceptible to periodontal (dental) disease. However, brachycephalic breeds (think breeds with a “smushy” face like the Persian, Himalayan, etc.) may be more predisposed due to the crowding of teeth in their shorter muzzles (jaws). Some studies suggest that certain Asian breeds, namely the Siamese, are more predisposed to feline tooth resorptive lesions, but the data on this is not conclusive and definitive.

What is feline tooth resorption?

Feline tooth resorption is a disease process that occurs commonly in cats, with up to 70% of cats having at least one tooth affected throughout their lifetime. It is a condition where for reasons still currently unknown, a tooth in the cat’s mouth spontaneously erodes and is destroyed beyond the point of repair. It can affect any tooth within the cat’s mouth, and the speed at which the tooth will be resorbed is unpredictable. It is not known whether this condition is painful to cats when it occurs completely underneath the gum line, though when the lesions become exposed to the outside environment (e.g. above the gum line), these lesions are incredibly painful and cause a high degree of uncomfortable sensitivity.

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Dog thinking about ticks and fleas

Year-round protection means more peace of mind!

“Tick season” used to mean spring/summer/fall, with a break over the winter – the colder weather meant that we could take a break from worrying about these pesky bugs and the diseases they can transmit. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a change creeping up on us, with the weather staying warm later into the season, and spring arriving earlier each year – and the bugs are loving it! You may have already heard us talking about how any day that the temperature is above the freezing point, ticks are potentially active. This past year, we had days above 0°C in all 12 months! Ticks aren’t killed by the cold, they simply go dormant, waiting until it’s warm enough to come back out – so last year, even January and February had days warm enough for ticks to be active! This means that we are now recommending that all dogs (and cats that go outdoors) take advantage of year-round flea and tick protection. There are several options, our first choice being an all-in-one that protects against fleas, ticks, and heartworm, as well as providing regular deworming against roundworms. One pill, once a month – what could be simpler? If your pet is already on a monthly preventative, all you need to do is pick up a refill and continue throughout the winter months. If your pet hasn’t yet started on comprehensive parasite prevention, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have and set you up with the best option for your pet. What does this mean for testing? The 4DX test that we recommend most commonly screens for heartworm disease, Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes (so every dog in Ontario is potentially at risk – at Westbridge we treat a few cases every year!), and the others are all transmitted via tick bites. We have seen an increase in Lyme-positive dogs in the last few years, one of the reasons we are recommending some of these changes. For better early detection and the safety of your pet, we are recommending annual 4DX testing for all dogs. This simple blood test can be done at any time, although the optimal time is in the spring. Catching disease early is key to successful treatment – and no matter how careful you are with preventative medications, there is always some risk of infection. As always, our veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians are available to answer any questions you may have about the best options for your pet. Email us at info@westbridgevet.com, or call us at 905-285-0002

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Last updated: December 17, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 19, 2020 some restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

- Monday to Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
- Sunday: CLOSED

4. NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

Your dedicated team at Westbridge Veterinary Hospital