How to Brush a Cat’s Teeth
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 2, 2016
Dr. Greenway demonstrates how to brush a cat’s teeth and shows us techniques that make it more manageable for both you and your pet. Topics covered in this video include dental disease, tooth decay, enzymatic toothpaste, anti-bacterial, daily brushing, neck lesions, cavity, gingivitis, when to perform a dental cleaning, general anesthesia, blood work, the heart, scaling, polishing, prophy, tooth assessment, dental X-rays, oral infections and tooth decay.
DISCLAIMER: Dr. Greenway references the use of toothpaste but does not specify the type that should be used. DO NOT use human toothpaste as the the fluoride is toxic to cats and dogs. Instead we recommend an enzymatic toothpaste with a VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal as they have been rigorously tested and proven to be effective.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com and what we’re going to show you today is how to brush your cat’s teeth. I really encourage you to watch our other videos about dental care and about how to introduce toothbrushing to a pet.
So you’re going to want to start off very slowly. The first thing is you really just want your cat to get used to you feeling around its mouth. Always keep in mind that you want to be as safe as possible. Even though your cat is friendly to you in most circumstances, when you start doing this it could stress them out and you don’t want to get bitten. If there’s fear of that then I don’t want you to incorporate this into your routine with your pet.
So first we just want to massage the lips a little bit. When you do this, you’ll figure out how your cat reacts. The way I’m holding Kiwi is very important. When you come at them face-first it tends to scare them so I actually come over top of the head and as she just did there, she’s trying to backup. So if I stand behind her then she’s only backing up into me and I have a little better control of her.
First you want to start just by placing some toothpaste on your finger and putting it in front of her just to see if she has an interest in the taste of the toothpaste and whether she’ll lick it or eat it and you can try this many times before you actually advance to the next stage.
Next you’ll want to actually try rubbing her teeth with your finger. Now it’s important to know that the tartar accumulates on the outside of the teeth so you have to take your pet and try to open its mouth. When you do that they do get quite frustrated so what we’re going to do is we’re just going to rub the outside of the teeth by keeping the mouth closed. So if we actually hold her head like this, we can hold her lower jaw and the top of her head and we have pretty good control over her and also her mouth is properly positioned for this for me to slip my finger past her lips and just rub along the side of her teeth like this. So this is the first time I’m trying this with Kiwi and you can see she’s already fairly accepting of it.
Once you’ve spent many days doing that and getting to the point that your cat is accepting of that, you can then move on to a toothbrush. You can put the toothpaste on the toothbrush and you can do the same motion. This is the first time again that I’m doing this with Kiwi and she’s already accepting of it but the more you do it and the slower you go she’ll accept it better and you’ll get better at it.
I recommend that clients brush their pet’s teeth every day and I know that we all have busy schedules so what’s most important to me is that I make it easy because I know if it’s difficult, clients won’t be consistent with it. So make it as easy as possible and then you’ll do it more consistently.
If you can’t brush your pet’s teeth as much as four or five times a week really the value of it goes way down. If you’re going to a groomer once a month and they’re actually brushing the teeth, I don’t see a lot of value to that. We have to think of it in terms of our teeth. We brush our teeth everyday, two or three times a day and it’s no different for pets. We want to try to do the same thing but doing it once a day is going to be fantastic and it’s really going to improve their dental healthcare overtime and limit your need for dental cleanings or getting into tooth decay and expensive tooth extractions.
So try to put it into your routine on a daily basis, try to get them to accept it by going very, very slowly and rewarding them with lots of love and treats all the way along and if you’re able to do this, you’re going to be providing fantastic care for your pet and cutting down on your veterinary bills. So good luck and you can read more about pet dental care and watch our videos here at healthcareforpets.com.
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.