Cats can suffer from dental health conditions that could cause them so much pain they may even refuse their food. In this blog, our Bedford vets discuss the importance of dental health for your feline companion and how you can clean your cat's teeth.
Cat Dental Health
When cats are in pain they are really good at hiding it. Your feline friend could be suffering from a painful oral health condition and you may never even know that they're uncomfortable. This is why cat owners have to be aware of their cat's oral health and keep their teeth clean. By cleaning your cat's teeth at home on a routine basis and monitoring their condition, you should be able to find any oral health problems early, preventing your cat from experiencing pain and avoiding expensive veterinary treatments. Some symptoms you may notice include bad breath, discolored teeth, red or swollen gums, or pawing at their teeth or mouth.
At-Home Dental Care For Cats
Implementing a daily dental hygiene routine for your cat can help them maintain healthy teeth and gums their entire life. In order for your cat's dental cleaning session to be as stress-free and easy as possible, you need to start the routine when they're still young. This helps your cat get used to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed when they are a kitten.
The goal of your cat's teeth brushing sessions is for it to be an easy and stress-free part of their everyday routine. Start by waiting until your cat is calm and relaxed, then take the following 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 may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. But, that's okay. These early sessions are about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure 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 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 from you vet and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of excellent flavors for cats like beef or chicken.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient & Accommodating With Your Cat
The temperament of your cat will be the largest factor in determining the success of their teeth cleaning session. Rember to be flexible, relaxed, and adapt your approach to your kitty's level of tolerance. 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 allow to do the work for them.
When you finally start successfully brushing your cat's teeth, move along the gum line, moving quickly but stopping before your cat gets irritated. It could be weeks before your cat tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned in one session.
If your cat becomes alarmed or stressed with the teeth cleaning process they could respond by biting or scratching. So, if it gets too difficult for both you and your kitty to brush your cat's teeth 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.
To find out more about the veterinary dental care available here at our Bedford animal 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.