What Can You Use to Brush Your Cat's Teeth?

The standard toothbrush won't cut it for your cat.
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When it comes to keeping your kitty's overall wellness prime, it's important to remember not only routine physical examinations but also dental health. Felines require regular tooth care and maintenance. Frequent and proper brushing with the right tools is integral to keeping your cat's chompers clean, healthy and beautiful.

Pet-Friendly Toothbrushes

Before you brush your cat's teeth, make sure you have all the right equipment. The first step is to invest in a cat-friendly toothbrush. At a pet supplies store, look for a toothbrush made specifically for felines to use. Pet toothbrushes have significantly smaller heads than standard human toothbrushes, turned at a different angle, and their bristles are also usually much finer. Most cat toothbrushes are around 3 inches long. A variety of kinds of cat toothbrushes are available, so look into all the options. Some cat toothbrushes come with special tapered heads that adapt to not only the specific form of your kitty's chompers but also her mouth in general. Finger-cot toothbrushes are another kind. With this glovelike toothbrush, you simply insert the cot over your index finger, put a small dab of toothpaste on and gently massage your pet's teeth over and over for several minutes.

Toothbrushes for Children

The ASPCA recommends use of children's toothbrushes in cats, too. As long as the toothbrush is a lot smaller than a standard adult one, around 7 inches long, you should be golden. Just read the labeling of the product to make sure the bristles are especially soft. Slightly elevated bristles are also helpful. The goal is to find one whose bristles can get to all areas of your cat's mouth and that won't feel harsh. If you're uncertain about soft-bristle choices, consult your veterinarian regarding cat toothbrushes that won't place significant pressure on your pet's gumline.

Cotton Swabs

Before you actually brush your cutie's teeth, the ASPCA advocates a little preparation in the form of a quick yet soft gum massage. Lightly dab your pet's gums with a cotton swab several times before you bring in the toothpaste.

Toothpaste Selection

When it comes to selecting the right toothpaste, use only one made strictly for kitties. The ASPCA warns that standard human toothpaste can bring upon needless digestive upset in felines -- definitely not something you want in your life or hers. Cat toothpaste often comes in fun flavors that are particularly palatable for finicky felines -- think beef, poultry and seafood.

Examining a Cat's Teeth

One of the responsibilities of being a pet owner is making sure your little one is in good dental health. Like humans, cats are susceptible to potentially dangerous dental ailments including periodontitis and gum disease. Before you brush your pet's teeth, closely examine her mouth for any signs that something is amiss, such as swelling of the gums, excessive tartar accumulation, dark streaks on the teeth, bright red gums, foul breath, unusual salivation, loose teeth and the presence of pus. If you spot anything strange, schedule that appointment with the veterinarian.

Getting Your Cat to Open Up

Getting a cat to open her mouth for a toothbrush may seem daunting, but it certainly isn't impossible. Slowly and gradually get your pet adjusted to the concept of foreign things being inside of her mouth. Create a positive association by lightly coating your finger with a tasty treat, chicken soup for example, and encouraging your kitty to lick the stuff off your finger. Then softly massage your pet's teeth and gums. The next day or so, wrap a small cheesecloth around your finger and dip it in the same type of soup. Softly massage your pet's teeth again, this time moving in circles. By beginning with these actions, you have a strong foundation for getting your cat to open up for your finger cot or other type of kitty toothbrush. Not to mention, being able to get your pet to open up will surely be useful for visually examining her mouth for obvious signs of a dental problem.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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