Cat Care | Dental Care
Your Pet Counts on You for Dental Care
With major advances in treating serious oral diseases, most importantly periodontal or gum disease caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar, which affect 70% of cats by the age of three, pet owners can now ensure their pets oral heath from home.
You simply need to provide a few things:
- A healthy diet
- Chew treats
- Regular brushing at home
- Yearly dental checkups by your vet
Good dental health begins with good food
The wrong kinds of food can cause dental issues with your cat. Feeding your cat a dry food than a moist, canned one can help get rid of bacterial plaque that harden from tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Try to avoid giving your cat anything sweet or table scraps, as these may increase plaque and tartar formation. Your vet might recommend a specialty food designed to eliminate plaque.
How to brush your cat’s teeth
Cats need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine as soon as you bring a new cat home. Older cats can be trained to have their teeth brushed as well. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience as pleasant as possible. Always praise good behavior and give treats as a reward at the end.
- Start by dipping your finger in tuna water or warm water.
- Rub this finger gently over your cat’s gums or one or two teeth.
- Repeat this process until your pet seems comfortable with the process.
- Gradually introduce a gauze-covered finger to step 1 and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion.
- Then, you can use a toothbrush, either the ultra-soft model for babies, or a special pet toothbrush that you can get from your vet or pet store.
- Finally, once your pet is used is used to brushing, introduce the use of pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride, ask your vet about these types of toothpastes. Never use human toothpaste, it will upset their stomach. Your vet may also advise about the use of antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.
Don’t forget to visit the vet
To keep your pet’s oral health at optimum, you need to visit your vet yearly for a thorough examination. The vet will be able to determine any underlying issues, especially plaque buildup. Brushing at home removed plaque but not tartar, so if tartar has appeared, your vet will need to remove it. Usually performed under anesthesia, your pet’s teeth will also get a cleaning and polishing. After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your vet will treat your cat’s teeth with fluorine and will also provide you with instructions for home care.
- Kittens have their first 26 “milk” or deciduous teeth at 2-3 weeks of age. Their permanent teeth begin erupting around 3 months.
- Cats have the fewest teeth of any domestic mammal.