Have You Brushed Your Cat’s Teeth Lately?Posted 6/17/2015
Cats are not easy customers. For most owners, it’s difficult just to brush your cat, let alone brush their teeth. So, more often than not, the cat’s dental hygiene moves to the bottom of the list. You’re not alone; lack of proper dental hygiene has resulted in periodontal disease among two-thirds of cats over three. As much as we struggle with it, the fact is that routine dental care is key to enhancing your cat’s total wellbeing.
Start Them Early
Starting good dental habits at home during the kitten stage is the best way to introduce oral care to your pet. Your cat may not like this, but it’s important to prepare your cat for having his teeth checked and cleaned. You can help your cat become more familiar with a brushing routine by gently separating and lifting his lips to lightly touch his teeth and gums. Repeat this periodically for a short time to allow him to relax and become less resistant.
Develop a Brushing HabitDaily brushing is the recommended way to prevent plaque and protect your cat’s dental health. There’s no exact science to brushing your cat’s teeth, but here are some general steps to help you get started:
- First, designate a brushing area that is comfortable for you and your cat. Some owners have trained their cats to sit on the toilet so the owners have easy access to a sink.
- Second, choose toothpaste specially formulated for cats. Human toothpaste is not an option, since it can be harmful if swallowed.
- Once you’ve found the right toothpaste, find a toothbrush that is designed for your pet. If a cat toothbrush seems awkward, there are finger models. You can also try using a child-size toothbrush or wrapping your finger with gauze.
- Slowly start with a smaller amount of toothpaste on your finger so your cat can smell and lick it. Once he recognizes it, you can add the brush and begin the cleaning.
- Gently brush the outside of your cat’s teeth and gums. Getting inside access is unusual for most pets, so make sure you can reach the back teeth as well as the front.
It will take several sessions before your cat will tolerate brushing. Be persistent and keep early sessions short. If your pet still won’t let you brush or you just want additional dental health support, there are plenty of tools and toys you can use. Not only are cat dental toys fun, they help massage the gums and clean teeth.
Dental treats offer some cleaning benefits since they are designed to help prevent plaque build-up on your cat’s teeth. These treats have a fibrous texture that causes friction against teeth and gums as your cat crunches on them. Specially formulated dry kibble cat food uses abrasive actions to help reduce plaque and tartar formation.
Visit Your Vet
Dental exams performed by your veterinarian are vital to help maintain dental health and determine if any issues are present. A yearly visit will allow your cat to be examined for any signs of plaque or tartar buildup above the gum line, broken teeth, stomatitis, tumors or growths, periodontal disease and other oral health other issues.