Much like people, cats can suffer from painful dental health issues due to injury or poor oral hygiene. Our Leighton vets explain how to clean your cat's mouth and provide the best dental care.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Your cat's oral health is important to their overall health and wellbeing. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth and gums to eat and vocalize, so when their oral structures are diseased or damaged, and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally.
Bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't just remain in their mouth. Left untreated the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart. This can lead to more serious impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Signs of Cat Dental Issues to Watch For
Specific symptoms will differ between conditions, however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease.
Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats can include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Missing or loose teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Leighton vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Caring For Your Cat's Teeth At Home
Maintaining a daily dental hygiene routine for your cat could help to keep your cat's teeth and gums healthy throughout their lifetime. To make cleaning your cat's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible, begin establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having its teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
Strive to make brushing your cat's teeth part of your daily routine. Start by waiting until your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your feline friend is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can acquire from your vet and some special cat toothpaste. Do not use toothpaste designed for human unless your vet approves it.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient While Training Your Cat to Accept Teeth Cleaning
The level of success you achieve when it comes to cleaning your cat's teeth will largely depend on your cat's personality. Make sure you are calm, relaxed, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Some cat owners use alternative methods to clean their pet's teeth by using some gauze, a finger brush, or applying a dental gel with their fingers.
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 cat tolerates having all of its teeth cleaned during a single session.
You may consider supplementing the dental care routine by adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
Annual Dental Exams For Cats
To help ensure that your cat's mouth stays pain-free and healthy, our vets recommend annual professional dental care as a part of your cat's preventative healthcare routine. Taking your cat for a dental appointment is like a visit to the cat dentist. Your vet will evaluate your cat's oral health, take X-rays if required, and do a thorough cleaning. If your cat is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your dentist will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
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.