It can be easy to overlook your cat's dental care needs. Most cats are relatively secretive about any issues or pain, so they can have an infected tooth or other dental issue for a long time before you even realize there is a problem. This is why regular dental care is so important. Your cat may not be able to brush their teeth, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it for them. The following tips will help you perform this essential bit of care.
Tip #1: Use the Right Tools
You can't use regular human toothbrushes and toothpastes with your cat. The best toothbrush is a small pet dental brush that slips over your finger. This both ensures the brush isn't accidentally swallowed and gives you more control over the cleaning. Your second tool is a toothpaste formulated for cats. Do not try to use human toothpaste. A pet toothpaste is non-toxic to the animal if they swallow it and it is flavored to be more appealing. You can find both the brush and the toothpaste at a pet supply store or your veterinarian may supply them for you.
Tip #2: Start Slow
The first few times you attend to your cat's dental care, skip the brush and toothpaste. Instead, just gently hold your cat and pet them around the face and jaw. Once they relax, gently open their mouth. After getting this far a few times, slip the toothbrush over your finger and try to gently massage the cat's gums with it once you get their mouth open. After a few sessions of this, your cat is probably ready for a real toothbrushing session. Just remember to always reward your cat with a treat after each session.
Tip #3: Master Your Technique
With most cats, the majority of the chewing occurs with the side teeth, or molars. Most cats don't hunt much, so the tearing teeth in front don't get as much use. When brushing the teeth, begin with the back molars and brush with a gentle circular motion. Move to the other side once one side is completed. Save the front teeth for last, since they are likely the cleanest. This way, if your cat gets impatient, at least the dirtiest teeth have been cleaned.
Tip #4: Know the Trouble Signs
You aren't just brushing to get your cat's teeth clean; you are also looking for health problems. It's time to take your cat in to the vet if you notice any of the following:
- Bleeding gums.
- Gums that are any color other than a healthy pale to medium pink. Gray and red gums can both indicate a major issue.
- Cracked, chipped, broken or loose teeth.
- Swollen or tender areas inside the mouth.
- Visible signs of decay, including major plaque buildup that you can't remove with brushing.
Getting these issues treated promptly can help prevent long-term health problems. For more information, visit a vet like Phoenixville Animal Hospital - R B Wolstenholme DVM.