You might think that brushing your cat’s teeth is just the worst idea ever, but the truth is, if you neglect your cat’s teeth, her overall health will suffer as she gets older. All it takes is just a minute or two each day to provide proper feline dental care for your cat. Your cat’s teeth should last throughout her lifetime. Minutes of brushing can save lots of time, money and pain for your cat in the future.
Why At-Home Feline Dental Care is Important
The veterinary staff at Anchor Animal Hospital can tell you that brushing every day is the best way to avoid feline dental disease. Symptoms of dental disease in cats includes bad breath, yellow or brown tartar build-up, drooling or red and inflamed gums. If your cat has any of these symptoms, don’t try to manage it on your own. Bring her to the local Dartmouth animal hospital for professional feline dental care.
If you start providing basic dental care for pets at-home, you can prevent a lot of dental diseases and other issues down the road. If it isn’t removed through brushing, plaque will continue to form each day, eventually building up into tartar, which is very difficult to remove – even by a professional. Tartar cannot be removed with a toothbrush. In fact, anesthesia is required for tartar removal at your veterinarian’s office.
In addition to all of the symptoms and issues listed above, tartar can lead to even more serious complications if it isn’t removed. Periodontal disease and gingivitis are the most commonly seen side-effects from poor feline dental care, however it can also lead to an oral infection. When you brush your cat’s teeth, you protect her from these potential infections, which can lead to other infections that could spread to other organs, such as the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.
What You Need to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
There are some things you need to know before you attempt to brush your cat’s teeth and provide at-home dental care for pets. You cannot use toothpaste or toothbrushes that are designed for humans. While you may see tips online that say to use a child’s size toothbrush, it will still be too large for a cat’s mouth. Toothpaste contains fluoride, which is toxic to cats. Additionally, the minty flavor will be much to strong.
- Feline Dental Care Toothbrush – Available through your veterinarian’s office at the local Dartmouth animal hospital or at major pet supply stores in the area or online.
- Feline Dental Care Toothpaste – Toothpaste that is specially designed to use in at-home dental care for pets is usually in flavors that your pet will enjoy. For cats, the flavors are usually seafood, chicken or beef.
Getting Started: How to Have a Good Experience for All
While the best tip is to brush your cat’s teeth beginning when she is a baby so she will get used to feline dental care as part of her daily routine, that isn’t always possible. If you are getting a “late start” with dental care for pets, just start slowly. Introduce the toothbrush to your cat and let her examine it. Hold her gently, yet firmly in your arms – or, if your cat will sit facing you and let you brush – begin brushing her teeth without toothpaste.
It can take up to three weeks for your cat to become familiar with the toothbrush. After a few days, add the toothpaste. Because of the flavor options, your cat will likely see this as a treat reward for good behavior. Do this every day for a minute or two until she lets you start doing a full brushing. Feline dental care is a lifetime commitment, so don’t worry if it takes a few weeks for her to adjust to the new activity.
Bonus Tips to Help You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
Anyone who has a cat in their home know that every cat comes with her own unique personality and tolerance level for feline dental care. Here are some bonus tips that you can use to help your cat relax and get used to dental care for pets that might be useful.
- Relaxing Massage – Some pet owners begin the dental treatment with a basic massage of the cat’s mouth and neck area to build familiarity and comfort with touching that part of her body.
- Advance Taste – Another method is to let your cat taste the toothpaste in advance. Either have her lick it off the toothbrush or massage her gums with it using your finger. Then build to the toothbrush after she is comfortable with this activity.
- Slow Brush – Finger brushing can be used in other ways as well. Start by brushing your cat’s front teeth and then moving on to using the toothbrush. Again, it may take weeks to get from finger brushing to toothbrush, but it will be well worth a patient effort.
- Gentle and Quick – You can start with even shorter bursts of activity. Using the flavored toothpaste, familiarizing her with the toothbrush or finger brushing for 30-40 seconds before moving on to another activity, such as playing with a toy. Build up to a minute, then a minute-and-a-half, etc. Be very gentle and quick, not allowing feline dental care to be a frustrating ordeal for either one of you.
Tooth Brushing Alternatives
If she absolutely positively won’t allow you to brush your cat’s teeth, there are alternatives that can be used. Speak with your veterinarian at the local Dartmouth animal hospital about dietary changes that can help with natural cleaning. A course, textured diet can be helpful. The act of tearing and chewing prey, much like cats in the wild, has been proven to be beneficial in feline dental care.
Chew toys, crunchy dental treats and event professional cleanings can also be good alternatives to use in dental care for pets. Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth can help you with professional cleanings and give you advice for quality at-home feline dental care that you can use. They can even show you proven techniques for better oral health that might help you brush your cat’s teeth without resistance. It is worth all of the effort that you put into it – even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. When you keep your cat’s teeth clean, you help her to have a lifetime of healthy living and good dental care habits.