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Brushing our pet’s teeth is not a recent suggestion, and veterinarian and pet dental hygienists have stressed this for years.
However, to the common pet owner, this seems a little far-fetched. Imagine what would happen to our teeth if we neglected our dental hygiene and didn’t brush, floss, or use mouthwash. Not only would out breath smell terrible but we could develop periodontal disease and are now required a trip to the dentist would cost us much more than the standard cleaning and X-rays we hate so much.
Our cats can develop the same periodontal disease and run the risk of needing all their teeth removed as they get older. They can also develop bad breath, and since cats are such fastidious cleaners, any accumulation of bacteria in their mouths can transfer to open wounds and cause dermatitis issues as they clean themselves.
The odds seem stacked against our cats in the long run and the pain of learning and practice dental hygiene at home is lessened by the fear of developing diseases and the costly vet bills. You can clean your cat’s teeth at home in five steps but never force or restrain your cat. Your cat needs this to be a friendly encounter or at least be complacent about it.
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Like all other cat training encounters, you have to start slow and get your cat used to the practice. Start with tuna water or chicken broth. Make sure your finger is clean and dip it in the water then let your cat lick the treat off your finger. Next, rub your dipped finger over your cat’s gums and teeth. After a few session, your cat will happily consent to the treatment.
Once she’s comfortable, wrap your finger in gauze and use the tuna water, in the same manner, making curricular motions on the outside of your cat’s teeth. This stage is so your cat can get used to the texture of something on her teeth and gums. Be sure to take it slow during this stage and be positive. Lots of love and pats help.
When your cat is once again comfortable with this stage, use a cat-specific toothbrush or dental sponge with the tuna water. It’s best to let the cat inspect and lick the water off the toothbrush first before using it. This will get her familiar with the feel of the brush.
After a few sessions, trade out the tuna water for cat toothpaste. You must make sure its cat toothpaste, which does not foam and comes in tasty tuna or chicken flavors – yum. During this whole learning process, always talk in gentle, soothing tones and never force your cat. This will take time and practice but will also keep her mouth healthy for her lifetime.