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I hate to see the dreaded tartar - that yellow crusty deposit which has appeared on the teeth of many wonderful dogs and cats I have owned. I hate it more when the vet sighs and shakes his head and says they really need to 'come in for some dental work'. It isn't because of the large vets bill that will generate (which is painful enought in itself) - it is the thought of my precious pet having to have an anaesthetic and suffer the dental work.
In case you are wondering I hate dentists myself (nothing personal you understand) and I always feel guilty if I have a pet who needs dental work as I start to worry I might not be taking good enough care of them. Also all anaesthetics do carry a risk so if I can I do prefer to avoid the need for them in the first place.
You can probably imagine my horror when I took my cat Max along for his annual checkup when he was just over two years old and I got the sigh and shake of the head from the vet. He expressed concern about the build up of tartar and advised that within a month or two I ought to take him for 'a dental'. I couldn't believe it - he was only a young cat and if he needed dental work at two how were his teeth going to look when he got older?
I spoke to breeders about the problem and no one could offer me much assistance so I scoured the internet for suggestions and looked at a number of possible solutions. First I thought I would try him on a BARF diet (bones and raw food) but he wasn't keen and I found it unpleasant so we gave that idea a miss!
However I decided his diet was probably a contributory factor and started to read labels on cat food. I now never buy any of the popular cat food you find on the supermarket shelves - he now has either raw meat or HiLife as it seems to contain the most natural indredients. He still has the dry kibble each day and that is always available which is supposed to help. More importantly I read about Fragaria and decided to find out more about it.
Fragaria is a homoeopathic remedy which, according to the Dorwest website, is used "To soften and aid the removal of tartar on encrusted teeth and prevent the formation of new deposits".
I did some research and discovered that homoeopathy is the treatment of 'like with like' - simply put this involves giving minute doses of substances that can cause signs of illness in a healthy person (or animal) and using that to treat the same symptoms in a sick patient. Tiny doses of plant, animal or mineral materials are soaked in alcohol and then diluted and shaken vigorously. The more a substance is diluted, the stronger its therapeutic effect and potency is believed to be.
Although opinions are divided about whether or not homoeopathy is effective I reasoned that as such small doses were involved it was unlikely to be harmful and so I ordered 100 pillules of Fragaria from www.dorwest.com at £5.50 and waited for them to arrive. I had them within days so I opened the package to see what they looked like.
Dorwest sell their Fragaria at a stregth of 3C in a small dispenser which contains approximately 100 'pillules' and enables the tiny pillules to be administered straight into the mouth of the animal without being touched by the hand, as this should be avoided when giving homoeopathic remedies. I know that was their intention but although the tiny pillules (and they really are small) do seem to come out one by one I felt happier dispensing them into the lid (so that I didn't touch them) and then tipping the lid to drop one pillule down the cat's throat.
If you have a cat you have doubtless seen lots of amusing emails describing 'how to give a cat a pill' - and very hilarious they are. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had no reaction from the cat when I dropped the tablet in there so I can only assume that they are completely tasteless. I have now given them to three different cats and none of them seem to react badly so, not only I am very relieved about that, I also think they are getting used to tablet administration so, just maybe, they might not object so much the next time the vet gives me some horrible tablets they need to take. (As I type this I look across at my three and realise they aren't stupid and I won't get away with that trick!)
The recommended dosage is one tablet per day, per cat, for a month to soften the tartar and then you can go down to a maintenance dose of one per week thereafter.
Does it work?
That is the question everyone asks - well yes, I think it does, there was a marked improvement in Max's teeth. So much so that the next time I took him to the vets he got a clean bill of health and he is over six now and hasn't needed dental work yet. I have slipped a bit on the weekly dosage I confess and tend to go back to the one a day if I notice that they are starting to get a build up of tartar again and within a week or so it disappears again. Overall I am very pleased with the outcome.
I do think some of the improvement is down to getting rid of the commercial brands of wet cat food - try reading a label sometime and you will find there isn't much meat in a lot of them. I have also stopped giving them tap water as the water round here is very hard so they get either rainwater or bottled water which may have helped.
Would I recommend it?
Yes I would. You do of course need to have a cat that will tolerate being given tablets and mine are generally reasonably good about it. Giving pillules is far more reliable as a means of administration that mixing anything with their food as you are certain they have got the full dose.
With homeopathic remedies Dorwest do say "It is preferable, but not essential, to avoid giving homoeopathic remedies within 15 minutes of food or drink." So if you have a cat or dog with problem teeth it might be worth trying Fragaria - it is certainly a far cheaper solution than having dental at the vets.
Just one word of warning though - Fragaria will help with the build up of tartar but if your pet needs a dental because teeth are decayed then this should be attended to by a vet without delay - it would be cruel to try alternative therapies a leave your pet in discomfort and Fragaria will not cure rotten teeth!
This review also published by me on Ciao