Dental health issues can become painful for cats, just like in humans. Pain in your kitty friend's mouth or teeth can even cause them to stop eating. In this post, our Palmdale vets explain how to keep your cat's mouth clean and healthy.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Cats can hide their pain quite well. It might be difficult to tell if they are suffering from a painful oral health issue if they don't seem as if they are experience obvious pain or discomfort. This is why cat parents need to be extra cautious with their feline friend's oral health and be sure to keep their kitty's teeth clean. By monitoring and cleaning your cat's teeth on a regular basis, you'll be able to spot any oral health issues early and help reduce pain and more expensive treatment later for your cat.
How do I know if my cat has dental health issues?
Dental health issues can crop up anywhere in your cat's mouth. While you do your regular brushing and examination, take note if any of their teeth are discolored, chipped or otherwise damaged. Any lesions or sores on their gums will also need professional medical attention from a veterinarian, as will any redness, bleeding or swelling
Ulcers, lesions, foreign bumps or swelling can also lurk at the back of the mouth. Check for any foreign objects such as pieces of toy or string that may be stuck in their mouth. A vet should check anything abnormal as soon as possible.
At-Home Dental Care for Your Kitty
It's imperative to maintain a daily oral hygiene routine to help keep your cat's teeth clean and their teeth and gums healthy long-term. To make at-home teeth cleaning as easy and stress-free as possible, start to establish a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat when they are still a kitten. This way, your cat will be used to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
It is possible to make brushing your cat's teeth an easy, stress-free part of your cat's daily routine. Start by waiting until your cat is in a relaxed, calm mood, then follow these steps:
- After gently lifting your cat's lips, massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds using your finger.
- Don't expect your cat to like this process very much at first. The first few times you attempt the process, you may only be able to reach a couple of teeth — this is okay. Your goal here is to build your cat's trust to help keep them from becoming agitated.
- Stay calm and make sure to offer lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. This may help to build your cat's tolerance to the experience. You should be able to gradually increase the length of time you spend on the task every day.
- Once your kitty companion has become used to you massaging their gums every day, you'll be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can get from most vets' offices, and some special toothpaste for cats. Toothpaste can come in a variety of excellent flavors for cats such as chicken or beef.
- Start using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may start with licking a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient & Adaptable While Your Cat Gets Used to the Process
How successful you are at cleaning your cat's teeth will largely depend on your kitty's temperament. Make sure you are relaxed, flexible and that you adapt your approach to your cat'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 gel with their fingers that they allow to do the work for them.
When you finally begin brushing your cat's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned during a single session.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth cleaning process they may react by scratching or biting. So if brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult for you and your kitty consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys. You might also consider providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
If this process proves very distressing for your cat or if you find it difficult to safely check their mouth, you can take them to your vet to be examined.
Yearly Dental Checkups For Cats
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.
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.