Dental pain is just as painful for cats as it is for humans, it can even keep your feline companion from eating. In this blog, our Ypsilanti vets discuss the importance of cat dental health and how you can keep your kitty's mouth clean.
The Importance of Cat Dental Health
Cats are talented at keeping their pain hidden. Your furry friend could be experiencing dental pain and you wouldn't even know it. This is why you as a pet owner have to be conscious of your cat's dental health and keep their teeth clean. By keeping an eye on your cat's oral health and routinely cleaning their teeth you will be able to spot any oral health issues early and save your cat from experiencing more pain and avoid expensive treatments.
At-Home Dental Care For Your Cat
Keeping up a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat can help to keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout their lives. To make it easier and as stress-free as possible start by establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your kitty while they are still a kitten. This helps your cat get accustomed to having their teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
Your goal should be to make brushing your cat's teeth a stress-free and easy part of your feline friends' daily routine. Wait until your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- 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 you attempt this process. That's okay though. It's about building trust in your cat to help keep them from getting agitated.
- Keep calm and remember to give your cat lots of praise and a delicious 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 each day.
- Once your feline friend is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can acquire one from your vet as well as some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of yummy flavors for cats like beef or chicken.
- Start using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat might start by licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient & Adaptable, Your Cat is Adjusting to the Process
How successful you are at cleaning your kitty's teeth will mostly depend on the temperament of your cat. Make sure you are calm, flexible and adapt your approach to your cat's tolerance level. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gell with their fingers that they let do the job for them.
When you finally start successfully brushing your cat's teeth, 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 a single session.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth cleaning process they may react by scratching or biting. So if brushing your cat's teeth is 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.
Annual Cat Dental Checkups
To make sure that your cat's mouth remains pain-free and healthy, our veterinarians recommend making annual dental care visits to your vet's office a part of their preventative healthcare routine. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's oral health on top of their overall physical health and let you know if any professional dental cleaning or surgery is required to restore your cat's good health.
Also, if you notice any signs of dental health problems such as red gums, swelling in the mouth, bad breath, bleeding from the gums, or a reduced appetite call your vet immediately as these could be signs of dental conditions such as gingivitis or periodontitis
To learn more about the veterinary dental care available at Michigan Avenue Animal Hospital visit 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.