The Good, Better and Best of Cat Dental Care

Good, Better, Best

It may be possible, but I know realistically that for many cat owners, brushing their pets’ teeth isn’t going to happen. Fortunately, I am a firm believer that something is better than nothing — what I call the “good, better, best” approach to dental care for cats.

  • Good: Rinses. Your veterinarian can recommend products that are added to drinking water to help reduce the formation of plaque. These have a two-fold advantage, since they’re also tasty enough to some cats to encourage more drinking: Many cats have a problem staying hydrated, and anything to get them to drink more will help. Other rinses spray directly into the mouth, which may be better tolerated than brushing.
  • Better: Edible toothbrushes. Talk to your veterinarian and take a look around. You’ll see a wide selection of foods and treats that combine good nutrition and great taste with an abrasive action designed to scrape teeth clean as your cat chews. In more severe cases, your veterinarian may suggest a therapeutic diet with proven ability to keep your cat's teeth cleaner.
  • Best: Brushing with a pet-safe enzymatic toothpaste. Still the best, and even if you can manage it only a couple of times a week, your cat will be better off for your efforts. You can't use human toothpaste, but pet toothpaste fortunately comes in several flavors, so your cat can pick his favorite. You don’t even need to use a toothbrush if your cat finds that intimidating; a finger brush or even some gauze wrapped around your finger will be fine.

The bottom line is this: Don’t give up. Talk to your veterinarian about all the options for your cat, starting with a complete dental examination and probably a cleaning under anesthesia to get you off to a good start. And then do what you can, because anything you can do is better than the misery of stomatitis and other dental problems for your cat.

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