Pet Connection: 9 things you don’t know about your cat’s teeth | Lifestyles

You may not think about your cat’s teeth very often, unless they are biting you, but they are an important part of your cat’s anatomy. A cat’s teeth are weapons, kitchen utensils, and barometers of health. Here are nine facts about them that might surprise you.

1. The age of a kitten can be estimated by the number of teeth. Cats have 26 teeth as kittens and 30 as adults – fewer than dogs, who have 42, and humans, who have 32. A kitten’s milk teeth begin to appear when 2 to 3 weeks old. The milk teeth are replaced by permanent teeth when the kittens are 6 to 7 months old.

2. Cats are known for their canines, or fangs, but they also have incisors, premolars, and molars. The reason kittens only have 26 teeth is because their molars come in with adult teeth. (Unlike dogs, by the way, a cat’s molars don’t have a grinding surface.)

3. Sometimes the baby teeth are retained causing problems when the permanent teeth come in. Permanent teeth are pushed out of place resulting in a bad bite. Milk teeth that do not fall out must be pulled out so as not to clutter the mouth. It’s a common problem in flat-faced cats like Persians, says veterinary dental specialist Jan Bellows, DVM.

4. A cat’s fangs are equipped with a crease along the edge called a “blood groove”. When a cat digs its canines into prey, blood flows into the groove and away instead of pooling in the mouth.

5. Cats can develop serious oral problems, such as tooth resorption or stomatitis, which require the extraction of some or all of their teeth. The good news is that while cats certainly use their teeth to pick up food, they don’t really need them to eat. Whether you feed canned or dry food, a toothless cat can swallow just as well as a cat with teeth.

6. Cat bites are serious, and not just for their prey. Cats’ mouths have fewer bacteria than dogs and humans, Dr. Bellows says, but the organisms there, usually Pasteurella and Pseudomonas, can be bad players. And cat bites are deep. “They almost go to the bone,” Bellows says. “I’ve been bitten by cats several times, and my fingers swell and secretions come out.” Wash cat bites thoroughly with soap and water, apply betadine, and see your doctor immediately for a course of antibiotics.

7. A cat’s tooth enamel is thin compared to that of dogs and humans. Even a small fracture exposes the nerves next to the pulp, requiring a root canal or tooth extraction.

8. It’s probably no surprise that brushing a cat’s teeth can be tricky. A simpler and equally effective method is to take a cotton swab, dip it in water from a can of tuna, and rub the gums where they surround the teeth, an area known as the gingival margin. This helps remove the daily buildup of plaque, the soft, sticky, bacteria-laden film that sticks to teeth and hardens into yellow or brown tartar (also called calculus). Tartar stains teeth and causes uneven surfaces to form, making it easier for plaque to build up at home. Why tuna water? “It doesn’t do anything medically, but cats love it,” says Dr. Bellows.

9. You can make it easier to clean feline teeth if you get the kittens used to it as soon as you receive them. If you don’t want to go the cotton swab and tuna water route, instead scrub your teeth with a tissue or piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. “Find a way to remove plaque from the cat’s mouth every day,” says Dr. Bellows.

Puppy Training Clicker Q&A Rewards Good Behavior

Q: How do I clicker train my puppy?

A: Clicker training is a fun way to teach all kinds of things to puppies and adult dogs. All it takes is a clicker – a small plastic box with a metal strip inside that “clicks” when pressed – and a good sense of timing. The sound of the click acts as a reward, letting the dog know that a tasty little treat is on the way.

You click when your dog does something you like, whether it’s sitting or raising its paw or touching its nose to an object. The click lets him know that the behavior he adopts at the sound of the click is what is being rewarded. Then you follow it with a treat. Your dog will quickly learn to repeat the behavior. Click and deal (only once!) each time it does.

Once your dog understands the pattern – he sits, you click and give a treat – you can add a name to the signal: “Sit”. Start offering food rewards in a more random way to reinforce them (the same principle that lets you pull the handle on the slot machine).

Start adding more behaviors that you can click, process, and name: down, twirl (both ways), shake, clap, roll. The list is endless. It’s also a great way to teach distance behaviors, like fetching.

Clicker training works best when you keep workouts short. As little as five minutes a few times a day is a good amount of workout time. Work on one behavior at a time.

Most importantly, never punish your dog for not “getting it right”. Clicker training is all about gain. To learn more about clicker training, go to fearfreehappyhomes.com/clicker-training-basics. — Mikkel Becker

Do you have a question about pets? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ Dogs may eat less in winter

— A dog’s dietary needs are based primarily on activity levels. Unless your dog cross-country skis with you or pulls a sled, he might need to eat less in the winter because he’s less active. The advice on the bag or box about how much to feed is only a starting point, not a hard and fast rule. Every dog ​​is different, so start with the recommended amount, or a little less, and adjust up or down depending on your dog’s physical condition. You can find canine (and feline) body condition charts online.

— Head tilt in rabbits is common and can be caused by various diseases. A common name for head tilt is “twisted neck”, although the correct medical term is “vestibular disease”. Rabbits with vestibular disease may have a head position that varies from a few degrees to 180 degrees from the normal position. They may fall, spin in circles, have difficulty standing, and develop eye injuries because the downward-facing eye is in a vulnerable position. For rabbits with vestibular disease, the vast majority will regain most of their normal head position and lead normal lives, as long as good nursing care, veterinary care, and recovery time are provided. Other rabbits, however, will have residual head tilt for life even if the inner ear disease is cured.

— Cataracts are cloudy spots on the normally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts can start to appear when dogs are between 6 and 8 years old and can eventually lead to blindness. However, dogs rely more on smell than sight, and they can get around just fine by using their noses – as long as you don’t move the furniture around. If your dog’s cataracts are so severe that he bumps into objects, ask your vet about cataract surgery.

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