When cats have an oral health problem it can cause them a significant amount of pain (just like humans). Dental problems could even keep your kitty from eating. In today's blog, our Stockton vets discuss the importance of dental hygiene for cats and how you can brush your cat's teeth at home.
Dental Care for Cats
Cats are very masterful at hiding their pain. They could be suffering from a painful dental problem and you wouldn't even know if they are uncomfortable. This, makes it very important for you to pay attention to your kitty's oral health and keep their teeth clean. By keeping a close eye on your cat's health and routinely brushing your cat's teeth you can spot any oral health problems early, preventing more pain and costly treatments.
Cat Dental Checkups
To keep your cat's mouth pain-free and healthy, our veterinarians recommend having annual dental care visits at your vet's office, making it a part of your cat's preventative healthcare routine. Your vet will examine your pet's oral health in addition to their overall physical health and let you know if any professional dental cleaning or surgery is required to restore your cat's good health.
A Dental Care Routine For Cats
Implementing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat can help keep their teeth and gums as healthy as possible for as long as possible. To make cleaning your cat's teeth at home easier and as stress-free as possible, start your cat's oral hygiene routine while they are still young. This way, your cat will be used to you brushing their teeth and touching their mouth from a young age.
Your goal is to make brushing your cat's teeth a stress-free and easy part of your feline friend's daily routine. Start when your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow the steps below:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat at first. You might only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's alright though. This is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Keep calm and remember to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task every day.
- Once your kitty is used to you massaging their gums every day, you will be able to start gradually introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush (you can get one from your vet) as well as some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a variety of flavors for cats such as beef or chicken.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat might begin by licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
The degree to which you are able to brush your cat's teeth will greatly depend on their temperament. Remember to be flexible and adapt your approach to how tolerant your cat is of the process. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their teeth with some gauze, some find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gell with their fingers that they let do the work for them.
When you finally start brushing your cat's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat gets irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned in one sitting.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth cleaning process they might react by scratching or biting. So if brushing your cat's teeth becomes too difficult for you and your kitty consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
As well as your efforts to keep your kitty's teeth clean and healthy, they’ll also need a regular professional dental cleaning performed by a qualified vet to keep their teeth in optimal condition.
To find out more about the veterinary dental care available here at Rosemarie Pet Hospital check out our dentistry page.
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.