It’s an unfortunate reality that cats often don’t get the care they need and deserve. Just 40% of cat owners visit the veterinarian, according to a 2020 study in the journal Animals. VCP’s own data shows only 10% of cat owners opt for wellness plans.
This glaring deficit is particularly acute in feline oral health, since dental disease is the #1 health problem among cats. Up to 80% of adult cats experience gum disease, with tooth resorption affecting as many as 60% of cats.
The good news?
The combination of dental plans and feline oral microbiome testing represents a powerful tool to address this crisis, with the overarching goal of improving overall feline health.
“The cat’s mouth is the gateway into the body,” notes Jan Bellows, DVM, DIPACVD, and DIPABVP. “The veterinarian plays a key role in keeping cat’s teeth and gums healthy. This goes far towards a long and comfortable life. Embracing the information gained from knowing the oral biome greatly aids in tailoring specific care for each cat.”
By detecting a cat’s risk for oral health problems early, doctors can then provide a bundle of tailored dental services to ensure cats get timely, appropriate care.
Dental Plans for Healthier Smiles
VCP’s wellness plans enable veterinarians to design preventive care that follows their processes and protocols, while adding optional services like dental for their feline patients. In fact, 65% of VCP wellness plans include dental. Stand-alone dental plans are another option for cat owners who forgo wellness plans.
With dental plans, cat owners enroll with a down payment, then monthly payments begin. Service terms are customizable. For example, an owner may make 6 monthly payments, but services can be performed anytime within a 12-month period, protecting the practice from risk.
Plans typically consist of a regular annual dental cleaning, but can be personalized to include other services. Customization proves especially helpful in cases where the cat patient needs extra interventions, such as:
- Oral surgery for complex extractions
- Dental radiographs
- Oral supplements
With a feline dental treatment plan, the doctor can add options to the current plan for a specific number of extractions or additional services. The VCP system then prorates the cost over the remaining monthly payments, making it easy for the cat owner to say yes to the right oral care for their pet.
At the end of the plan year, the feline dental plan renews, but the options do not. However, if additional services are needed, doctors can add them just like before.
Oral Preventive Care Begins With Knowledge
Designed for early detection of dental problems, the Basepaws Dental CatKit provides an easy way for veterinarians to test a cat’s oral microbiome for signs of microbial dysbiosis associated with disease.
The test currently focuses on detecting signs of feline periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and bad breath. Based on an assessment of the oral microbiome, each test identifies more than 1,000 microbial species per sample, then cross-references the sample against a database of microbes found in the mouth and in many diseases.
Although finding specific microbial signatures associated with dental disease isn’t the same as a diagnosis, the results give veterinarians a new tool to facilitate and find treatable conditions more quickly. Veterinarians can then draw on the results to recommend preventive care for their cat patients to protect against future ailments.
“A cat’s oral health is one of the keys to a long and happy life. And, the mouth holds many secrets,” explains Liz Bales, VMD. “It takes a skilled veterinarian to do a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity and interpret their findings. Having more tools to evaluate our cat’s oral health is an amazing possibility!”
In the future, the Dental CatKit will also look for oral microbiome patterns associated with gingivostomatitis, as well as other dental and systemic diseases.
When it comes to veterinary care, cats deserve the same care and attention as dogs. With new innovations and effective tools, such as dental plans and oral microbiome testing, veterinary professionals can make inroads toward giving cats the care they deserve.
For more information, contact Executive Vice President Ron Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.