Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Did you know that ensuring your pet’s dental health is just as important for animals as it is for humans?

Dental disease in pets usually affects the upper back teeth with plaque building up on the tooth surface daily. It takes less than 36 hours for this plaque to harden and become tartar that cannot be removed with a brush. Therefore, if your feline friend is willing to cooperate, brushing should be done daily with a soft brush to remove plaque from under the gum line.

The best time to start brushing your cat’s teeth is when it is young, but it is never too late to begin this important regimen and make it part of your daily routine. There are many ways you can encourage your cat to enjoy this. Picking a time of day that will become a convenient part of the routine is the first step. If you don’t succeed the first time, don’t give up. It’s worth the effort for your pet!

In order to brush your cat’s teeth you’ll need a soft veterinary toothbrush. The human toothbrushes are too large to use for your pet’s teeth. You can buy these at your local veterinary or pet supply store. You’ll also need veterinary toothpaste. NEVER use human toothpaste as this can be harmful to your cat. There are many different flavors of pet toothpaste including poultry and fish, so your cat should find one of the many options appetizing.

The best way to get started is to offer your cat a taste of the toothpaste. You might be surprised that they will lick it right out of the tube! Then, put a little on your finger and then run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth towards the back of your cat’s mouth. Then repeat this same process using the toothbrush. You’ll want to get the bristles along the gum line, angle the brush slightly so they reach under the gum line of the upper back teeth. Work your way around both sides of your cat’s mouth. This should only take you about 30 seconds to brush both back sides of your cat’s mouth. If your pet doesn’t mind this process and eventually lets you brush the entire mouth, then that’s even better! The most important areas to clean though are the upper back teeth.

Rewarding your pet with a crunchy treat after brushing is a great way to help them find tooth brushing an enjoyable experience.

For those cats who will not tolerate brushing, there are many dental treats on the market to help as well. Ask your veterinarian about dental treats that would be suitable for your pet. The dry and crunchy dental treats also help your cat maintain good dental health.

Even with the best tooth brushing, some cats may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just as humans do. So please ensure that your vet examines your pet’s teeth during regular check-ups.

By keeping care of your cat’s dental needs, you may reduce the frequency of professional cleanings and help your pet live a longer, healthier life!


  1. You are so right, dental health is so very important! Both of us recently had to go get our teeth cleaned and it was a big expense for our parents. They just didn't realize they should be brushing our teeth, so the doc gave them a trial size toothpaste and we're now getting brushings. We don't mind the taste of the toothpaste at all, and are putting up with it quite nicely.

    Sam & Sadie

  2. We use a finger brush on our furry bunch. They seem to tolerate it quite well.

    Highly recommend it for anyone wanting to try, brushing really is important.

    Sharron and Nick

  3. We're going to give it a try. Have an appointment at the vets this week so will pick up some paste and a brush. This is an excellent article.

    The Wilsons

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