Taking care of your cat’s teeth and gums is an important part of his health regime. These dental products and tips can help make the job easier.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common health problems in cats. Because it causes a lot of pain and discomfort, and can impact a cat’s overall well-being, it’s important that you take steps to keep your own kitty’s teeth and gums as healthy as possible. There are lots of dental products on the market to help make that job easier – let’s look at a few of them.
Toothbrushes and toothpastes
Abrasive action helps remove the plaque that leads to tartar buildup. If your cat will let you, brushing his teeth every day goes a long way to preventing dental problems down the road. Just be sure to buy a toothbrush that’s specifically designed for a cat’s mouth – a human toothbrush is too large and won’t do the job properly. And if the bristles are too stiff, they could injure his gums.
When it comes to toothpaste, never use human products for your cat. Unlike us, cats don’t spit after brushing, which means they end up ingesting the fluoride and other chemicals in human toothpastes. You can purchase toothpastes or dental gels formulated especially for cats, and because they’re often flavored with something kitties like, such as chicken, your kitty is more likely to accept them. One example is Enzadent Toothpaste from Vetoquinol; this poultry-flavored toothpaste is formulated specifically for cats and dogs, and can be swallowed safely.
Tip: Most adult cats won’t accept having their teeth brushed for the first time. If possible, start your cat young, and gradually get him used to the idea. Be gentle and patient, and make the experience a positive one by rewarding him with a healthy treat after each session.
Fingerbrushes are a popular alternative to toothbrushes; they feature soft bristles that do a similar job to a toothbrush. A fingerbrush may give you more dexterity than a brush, furthering your ability to reach all your cat’s teeth and his gums.
You can also use dental wipes, which help prevent plaque and tartar. For example, Bluestem’s Dental Wipes are designed to wrap around your finger so you can clean your cat’s teeth and gums, and there’s no need to add toothpaste.
No-brush dental products
If your cat won’t accept brushing no matter what, don’t give up. There are lots of brush-free dental products that will help keep his teeth clean without a struggle.
- Oral sprays simply involve squirting a bit of a solution into your cat’s mouth once or twice a day. Leba III from LebaLab Inc. is one such product. It includes herbs from the mint and rose family that balance the chemistry in the mouth to get rid of tartar. There’s no need to directly target your cat’s teeth with the spray – it will start working when it mixes with his saliva.
- Perhaps the easiest way to maintain your cat’s dental health is to use a water or food additive. These are good options for cats that don’t like having their mouths handled. Scruffy Paws Scrub and Shine Dental Powder is an example of a natural powdered food additive that inhibits plaque formation, reduces inflammation and freshens breath. It’s made from natural zeolites along with zinc, cranberry, probiotics and other ingredients, and starts working as soon as your cat starts eating.
- Products that you add to water are another alternative. Some are tasteless, but others, like Bluestem’s Water Additive, have a chicken-flavored option. It combats plaque and tartar by softening and breaking down the biofilm structure formed by oral bacteria. It also freshens breath and enhances overall oral health.
Tip: If your cat doesn’t drink as much as he should, a flavored water additive may encourage him to drink more while helping to keep his teeth and gums healthy.
It’s important to remember that good dental health also involves a proper diet (see sidebar above), along with regular veterinary check-ups. Along with these important foundations, the products discussed in this article make it easier to keep your cat’s teeth and gums in tip-top condition!