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Pet Patter - Catrina Skepper's Blog

How to clean Cats teeth

Posted on: 4/20/2011 4:05:54 PM under Cats

Like most mammals, cats require good dental health in order to live a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, your cat isnt likely to start brushing his or her teeth anytime soon and without your help, the likelihood of your cat developing tooth decay is fairly high.  In fact, periodontal disease is among the most common illnesses diagnosed in cats, because most pet owners do not invest in proper dental care.

The risk increases if your cat eats mostly soft food.  Lacking the abrasiveness of a dry diet, your cats teeth may be more prone to plaque build-up, which can result in tooth rot. However, once you learn how to use a finger toothbrush for cats, the whole chore of good dental hygiene becomes a whole lot easier and sometimes fun!
Finger Toothbrushes are rubberized toothbrushes meant to fit over your index finger. This makes it easier to control the brush inside your pets mouth and provides added comfort to your cat. Design innovations aside, there will probably still be an adjustment period before your cat readily submits to a daily teeth cleaning.

What You Will Need
The most important tool is the finger toothbrush itself; however some good pet toothpaste and a tasty tooth-healthy treat with which to reward your cat after you are done are recommended. When it comes to the toothpaste, make sure you choose something specifically designed for pets.  Human toothpaste is not only less digestible but many also contain the sweetener, Xylitol, which may be poisonous for your pet.

Thankfully, pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors that may appeal to your cat including beef, chicken, salmon and peanut butter.  The best way to choose a flavor is to let your cat choose, by putting a little toothpaste on your finger for your cat to lick off.  You can also ask your veterinarian what flavour they use and what tends to work best.

Brushing Basics
Your cats abrasive tongue helps keep the inside of the teeth clean, so the focus of your brushing activities will be on the outer teeth and gums.
Start by letting your cat sniff a little toothpaste on your finger.  You want your cat to associate a little routine tooth brushing with positive experiences so move slowly and be sure to incorporate lots of pets and scratches!  If your cat is uncomfortable with you touching around the mouth, you might want to start with gentle dental exams followed by a dental treat so your cat associates you hands in that area with a reward.
Get your cat used to you lifting his/her lips and checking around the mouth.  When you are both ready for the real thing, put the finger toothbrush in place with a small amount of pet toothpaste.  Brush all over the outside of the teeth, massaging the gums.  Focus on being gentle and efficient and follow up with a dental treat.

Once your cat gets used to the idea and the handling, it will probably begin to look forward to this daily reward!
Problems you may come across..
Most cat owners are probably looking at the instructions for how to use a finger toothbrush for cats and thinking how their own cat will never submit to such a process. Its true that most cats wont like having their teeth brushed at first and will need to be introduced gradually.
Start with very short brushing sessions every day, working closer to the gums and the back of the mouth each session. Reward your cat immediately after brushing. Hard treats are a great choice because they help fight plaque, and treats containing parsley help reduce bad breath.

If a normally docile cat repeatedly fights against having its teeth cleaned, or if bad breath is detected and persists, then a visit to the vet may be in order to make sure there arent any existing dental issues. Cats can have gum disease or hidden tooth rot just like any human and those problems can render the use of a finger toothbrush unpleasant or painful. Make sure to watch your cats teeth for any changes in color or any visible flaws, and keep up on regular checkups to make sure they are staying healthy!