Just like humans, cats need to have their teeth cleaned to maintain good oral health. Today, our San Diego Bay Animal Hospital vets will offer advice on how to clean your cat's teeth and when to bring them in.
Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth For Ongoing Oral Health
Cats are stoic creatures that will often hide physical pain out of instinct. Nonetheless, our feline friends can experience oral health issues which can be painful or even detrimental to their overall health and well-being.
If you're a cat parent, it's important to be ever-diligent about your kitty's oral health and keeping your furry companion’s teeth clean. Being proactive about your cat's oral health can help to prevent your cat from developing painful oral health problems, or help to detect and treat minor issues before they develop into more serious concerns. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health may also help you to avoid the need for your cat to undergo expensive procedures to address issues that could have been prevented.
Routine Dental Check-Ups To Ensure Complete Preventive Care
When you book your cat's next annual checkup at the vet, be sure to request that a dental checkup be part of that appointment. This will allow your vet to evaluate your cat’s oral health in addition to their overall physical health, and let you know if your kitty requires professional dental cleaning or surgery.
Following a Daily Dental Routine
It is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of three years. Establishing a daily dental care routine early can help you to prevent your cat from becoming one of the 70% of cats suffering from dental issues.
While your cat is still young is the best time to begin establishing a regular tooth brushing routine however, it's a good idea to get the okay from your vet first. Even a sweet young kitten could have oral health issues that will need correcting before its teeth can be brushed.
Brushing and Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth Thoroughly
Needless to say, you’ll want to ease your cat into a new tooth-brushing routine to help keep them calm and relaxed throughout the process. Here's how you should brush your cat's teeth.
- Gently lift her lips, then use your finger to massage her teeth and gums for a few seconds.
- Start with low-key expectations - you may only reach one or two teeth the first few times you try this. Stop before she gets 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 her teeth and gums regularly, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for cats (never use your 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 with the brushing as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin by licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger (you may even have the opportunity to test a few different flavors). Find a brush that has soft bristles made for cats’ delicate gums.
While some pet parents successfully clean their cat's teeth using a small piece of soft gauze, others find a finger brush works for their felines. Still, another approach is to apply dental gel to their cat's teeth using a toothbrush or a finger, which allows the gel to do the work for them.
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 her teeth cleaned within a single session.
Other Ways of Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth
If the brushing process causes your cat undue stress it may react by scratching or biting. If this is the case for your cat, you may choose to spare your fingers and consider dropping additives such as plaque remover into their drinking water, supplying your cat with specially designed chew toys, or providing kitty with dental treats and plaque-fighting cat food.
Whichever at-home method you choose to keep your cat’s teeth clean, remember that your kitty will also need annual professional dental cleaning by a qualified veterinarian to help keep their teeth in tip-top 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.