Like people, cats can develop oral health problems. This makes it important for cat owners to take a proactive approach to their feline friend's oral health by keeping their pet's teeth clean. Today, our Walnut Creek vets discuss the importance of dental care for cats and how you can clean your cat's teeth at home.
Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean
Cats are stoic creatures that will often hide physical pain out of instinct. However, our feline companions could be suffering from painful oral health issues which could be negatively impacting their overall health and wellbeing.
If you are the caring owner of a cat, it's essential to be diligent about your kitty's oral health and keep their teeth clean. Being attentive to your cat's oral health can help keep your kitty from developing painful oral health problems, or help detect and treat minor issues before they develop into more serious concerns. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health can help prevent the need for expensive treatment procedures for issues that could have been avoided.
Annual Veterinary Dental Checkups for Cats
When you book your cat's next annual exam at the vet, you can ask them to include a dental checkup as part of that appointment. This will give your veterinarian the chance to assess your cat's oral health as well as their overall health, they will then inform you if your furry friend needs a professional dental cleaning or surgery.
Your Cat's Oral Health Care Routine
It is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the time they are three years of age. Establishing a daily dental care routine early can help keep your cat from becoming one of the 70% of cats suffering from dental issues.
It is best to introduce your cat to a regular tooth brushing routine when they are still young, but we recommend asking your vet first. Even cute little kittens can develop oral health problems that need to be treated before you can start brushing their teeth.
How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
When you start introducing your cat to their toothbrushing routine you will want to ease them into it, this can help them be more relaxed and calm during this process. Below we have listed the steps for brushing your cat's teeth.
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then with your finger massage their gums and teeth for several seconds.
- Start with low expectations - you might only get one or two teeth the first few times you do this. Stop before they get too annoyed.
- Give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. The goal is to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task.
- Once your kitty has become used to having you massage their teeth and gums on a regular basis, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for cats (never use your own toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to our feline companions). Look for flavors that appeal to them, such as beef or chicken.
- Start brushing gradually, as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin by licking a small dab of toothpaste from your finger (you might have the opportunity to test a variety of flavors). Find a brush that has soft bristles made for cats’ delicate gums.
Some cat owners are successful at brushing their pet's teeth with a small piece of soft gauze, others can accomplish this task with a finger brush. However, you could also try accomplishing this task by applying dental gel to your cats' gums with a finger or toothbrush and letting the gel clean your kitty's teeth for you.
When you do begin brushing your cat's teeth, simply move along the gum line, working quickly but calmly, then stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It's important to note that it may take weeks before your kitty will tolerate having all of their teeth cleaned at one time.
Alternatives to Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
Does brushing your cat's teeth cause them too much stress? If so, they could react by biting and scratching. Thankfully, there are some alternative measures you can implement such as dropping additives like plaque remover into their water, giving your kitty specially made dental chew toys, or giving them some yummy dental treats or cat food that fights plaque.
It doesn't matter which at-home methods you use to help keep your feline friend's teeth clean, your cat will need to see their vet every year to get a professional dental exam and cleaning, so their teeth can stay in optimal condition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.