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Info for Clients: 6 Tips to Care for Your Cat's Teeth

January 6, 2017

Studies have shown that 80% of cats over the age of three suffer from dental disease that requires treatment. Most small veterinary practices can benefit from adding dental care.

However, many pet owners are unaware of the harm caused by dental disease. Consider an information campaign to make them aware of the importance of taking care of their cats’ teeth.

Help cats avoid having tooth problems in the future and instruct owners on the importance of tooth care with these tips:

6 Tips to Care for Your Cat’s Teeth

Tip #1. Start Young!

If at all possible, start taking care of your pet’s teeth when they are a kitten. The younger they are, the easier it may be to get them used to the health routine.

Tip #2. What Not to Do

Do not…

  • Use people toothpaste on your pet
    • If ingested, fluoride toothpaste can make a cat ill
    • People toothpaste has a foaming agent that makes it easy for us to spit out, but it is not good for a cat
  • Brush a kitten’s teeth when it is teething
    • Their gums are already sore, any extra stimulation may cause pain and make the kitten wary of being handled during any type of dental care

Tip #3. Dental Products

The choices for feline dental products are numerous! If questions arise, your veterinarian may suggest toothpastes that they or their clinic staff have personally reviewed and used. The clinic may also carry a line of pet dental products, in which case additional information should be readily available.

When choosing a toothpaste or dental product, keep in mind the following:

  • Pet dental products are produced in the form of pastes, gels, and sprays
  • Cat toothpastes are available that use:
    • Oxygenating substances to limit anaerobic bacteria growth
    • Various flavors that are attractive to cats, such as:
      • Tuna
      • Poultry
      • Salmon
  • Oral washes are available that are appropriate for use with cats and developed to:
    • Provide antibacterial and antiviral benefits
    • Promote the healing of diseased gums.

Tip #4. Step-by-Step Approach

When brushing your cat’s teeth, start off by using your hand to rub its muzzle over its teeth. This action mimics the cat’s natural behavior of face rubbing and will help the cat to relax. Once the animal is accepting:

  • Gently raise the lip and massage its gums with your finger
  • Once this is tolerated, wrap a piece of gauze or cloth around your finger and repeat the step of massaging the gums.

After a few tries, once the animal becomes comfortable, it is time to introduce the toothbrush or fingertip brush. Following the same steps, begin by gently brushing its teeth. Once the cat accepts the dental tool, try adding a small amount of toothpaste to the brushing routine.

Tip #5. What If Your Cat Does Not Like the Toothpaste?

If you find your pet resisting the toothpaste, try using the water from a can of tuna instead. Offer it first to the cat from the tip of your finger. As it gets used to the tuna water, substitute the toothpaste by:

  • Placing a tiny amount of pet toothpaste on your finger
  • Offer your finger to the cat to let them lick the toothpaste off
  • As they get used to the idea of the toothpaste, gently rub your finger along the teeth inside the lip
  • After a few times of rubbing their teeth with your finger, gradually introduce the toothpaste on a very soft pet toothbrush or a rubber finger brush.

Tip #6. Final Brushing Steps

  • When brushing the gums, the most important part to clean is the gingival sulcus, the area where the gum attaches to the teeth
  • Position the toothbrush with the bristles in the gingival sulcus, and then gently move the toothbrush parallel to the gum line, forward and back.

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