National Pet Dental Health Month: Essential Tips For Your Cat Straight From the Vet

sleepy cat showing teeth It is National Pet Dental Health Month, so we are paying some special attention to the dental health of your feline family members.

We understand it’s not normally on everyone’s mind. Usually we don’t think about our cats’ teeth unless they’re, you know, attached to us in some way– ouch! But giving your pet’s teeth the care and attention they need is an important part of responsible kitty parenting. With that in mind, we called upon Delightibles’ expert veterinarian, Dr. Kristen Andrews, to offer some detailed tips for your cats’ dental and oral health.

Here are some important tidbits to help you get your fur kids’ pearly whites shining bright—straight from the vet!

Tips For Your Cat’s Teeth From The Vet

It’s Never Too Early to Start Kitty on a Dental Health Regimen

Kittens start to lose their baby teeth around 4 months of age so it’s important to start a dental care program early for them.  Tooth brushing every day is the best thing you can do to take care of Fluffy’s teeth. You can even teach an older cat to allow you to brush their teeth with some patience and practice.

To get your cat used to oral care, try and set aside a time each day to work with him or her.  Start first by getting them comfortable with you touching the outside of their mouth.  Talk to them and give them positive praise when they allow you to touch their mouth area.  Have their most favorite flavor of Delightibles on hand to give as a reward after each session.  Once they are comfortable with you handling the outside of their mouth, start lifting their lips gently and touching the teeth in the front and along the sides with your finger. Again, positive praise and rewards for their good behavior works!

When they become comfortable with several sessions of this, you can start offering them pet safe toothpaste on your finger and lift the lip and gently rub it over the teeth and gums.   Don’t be discouraged if they resist at first, be sure to encourage them and reward them with treats when they do well. Lots of tasty treats will teach kitty that dental care is a good thing! Slowly but surely, you can work up to using a finger brush or toothbrush to brush their teeth daily.

Examine Your Cat’s Mouth Regularly

It sounds simple, but a quick peek ‘under the hood’ can help you detect early signs of oral disease. Flip your pet’s lips weekly to look for problems such as reddened gums, yellow or brown tartar collecting on the teeth, loose teeth (especially in the front of the mouth), abnormal swellings or growths, excessive drooling, or just smelling bad breath. These are all signs that your pet may have oral disease and should be addressed by your veterinarian as soon as you notice them.  In addition, your pet should have a good oral examination performed by your veterinarian at least every 6 months, just like you!  So if it has been a while since Mr. Whiskers has seen the doc, call your vet today to schedule an appointment.

Plan Ahead

Start saving now for the next time Mittens needs a teeth cleaning, and always get his teeth cleaned when the vet says they need to be done. By letting proper veterinary dental care wait too long, your cat’s teeth can worsen resulting in pain, infection, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. These issues can also all lead to more serious health problems. Pet health insurance can be a great investment for helping to care for kitty’s teeth– just make sure the plan you purchase covers dental! Many vets also offer programs like Care Credit, which allows you to pay for their care in installments.

Toothbrush Alternatives

Brushing can be difficult for kitties because of the small size of their mouths. If you are not able to easily or comfortably use a toothbrush on your cat, there are other products you can use to help clean their teeth. As an alternative to traditional tooth brushing with a brush and toothpaste, dental wipes and rinses are also available. A dental wipe is exactly what it sounds like – a cloth wipe you can use once and discard. Simply wipe the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums and toss it. Oral rinses can either be applied with an applicator to the surface of the teeth, or sprayed into their mouth daily.

So yes, it is National Pet Dental Health month, but it is important to keep your cats’ oral health a priority every month of the year. Remember, you can add years to a kitty’s life just through proper dental care! That means more years of unconditional love from your fur babies– and we all want that!