Unfortunately dental disease is common in cats. Studies show that up to 80% of all dogs and cats suffer from periodontal disease by the time they are only two years old (source: holisticvetcare.com) and up to 90% of cats that are aged 4 and older suffer from some form of dental disease (source: Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine). However, if an owner takes the necessary steps and ensures appropriate preventive dental health care, cleaning and regular dental check ups, then most dental diseases in cats are easily treatable.
Why is cat dental health so important? Apart from the severe pain and discomfort that the cat might experience, dental disease can impact a cat’s quality of life and can lead to:
- change in appetite or even refusing to eat at all;
- lack of willingness to play and be active;
- bad breath;
- tooth, tissue or bone loss;
- infections that, in some cases, might spread to other organs;
- more serious health problems such as liver, kidney and heart disease, diabetes, problems during pregnancy and even oral cancer.
Healthy cat’s teeth
To prevent dental disease in cats, owners should take care of the proper and regular home dental health care of their furry friends. Thanks to regular dental health care your feline friends will also live longer and healthier.
In addition to regular mouth inspections and professional dental check ups, every owner should remember about balanced, species-appropriate food and that a raw diet, such as raw meat, acts as a natural toothbrush. If it is possible try to avoid giving dry food to the cat. Of course, dry food does not stick to cat’s teeth, but it also does not remove tartar from the teeth of your furry friend.
Dental disease in cats is not related to the animal’s age, as every cat has individual health factors, dental anatomy and chemistry. Breeds are also very important for dental health, as some (e.g. Persian cats) are more prone to having dental diseases than others.
Do cats need to have their teeth cleaned? Yes, and If you have never brushed your cat’s teeth, you should start doing it immediately, as the older the cat is, the more crucial it is to take care of their healthy teeth, that are very important, for the animal’s overall good health.
How to look after cat’s teeth – cat dental products and care
A dental check up is the first step in the home health dental care program. Visit your vet, who will examine your cat’s mouth, teeth and gums. The vet will also inform you as to whether or not your feline friend needs professional dental cleaning. Many cat parents and especially those with senior cats worry about cleaning with anaesthesia. Nowadays anaesthesia is actually a safe procedure that is performed to the most current standards with the usage of the most advanced monitoring equipment. If you are an owner who feels anxious about anaesthesia, discuss your concerns and the length of the recovery period with your vet or dental staff.
How to brush cat’s teeth at home
When professional dental cleaning is completed (if needed), ask your vet to demonstrate the proper techniques of brushing your cat’s teeth. You might also ask what type of dental products (the best toothpaste and brushes) are recommended for your animal.
Can you brush your cat’s teeth with human toothpaste? Absolutely not. Do not buy toothpaste for humans, as firstly you will find a great choice of dental products that are specifically designed for cats. Secondly, human toothpaste is not tasty for pets and is designed to be rinsed out, but not be swallowed. As feline toothpaste comes indifferent flavors, you can start with a small amount and see whether or not your cat will like it. You will also find several types of cleaning tools or toothbrushes for cats at your vet’s or a pet store.
When you begin your home dental care routine you should remember not to harm your cat’s mouth. If you do not know how your cat will react, start slowly with a small sample of toothpaste so your cat can smell and taste it. You can also put a small amount of toothpaste onto your finger and gently apply it to the teeth of the animal. When your cat is comfortable with toothpaste, introduce a brush or a cleaning tool and brush your cat’s teeth gently, from the gums downward. You do not need to brush the inside of your cat’s teeth, as their saliva cleans them.
How to brush your cat’s teeth – video with instructions
An owner should always remember about rewarding the cat with a healthy treat.
Generally most cats will allow their owners to clean their teeth. However, you should remember to introduce your animal to this routine gradually, and do not push the cat, as it might even take a few months in some cases.
How often should you brush your cat’s teeth?
The best answer is every day, but other options such as one or two times per week are also acceptable. An owner can also perform mouth inspection, to look inside and under the tongue. When you have done this several times, you will begin to notice any changes, differences in smell, bleeding or any signs of inflammation. In case of any concerns, contact your vet immediately.
If you are not sure whether you use the proper techniques, ask your vet to revise them during your visit. The faster you start your home dental care program, the better the dental health of your furry friend will be. If you have already introduced your cat to tooth brushing, it is recommended to have a dental health check up once a year, if your animal has not had any dental issues previously.
Please note: this article has been provided only for informational purposes. If your cat is showing any signs of dental disease, please contact your vet immediately.