Many health issues in your cat start with poor oral hygiene. These issues can usually be avoided simply by keeping up with cleaning your cat’s teeth and gums with a good cat toothpaste and toothbrush.
Gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption are three of the most common dental diseases in cats, and the severity of each condition can vary greatly. A cat’s quality of life can be impacted by dental disease, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Before jumping into oral health though, it’s vital to have a high quality toothpaste that will work for your cat.
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What Is Cat Toothpaste?
Cat toothpaste is similar to human toothpaste in that it breaks down the plaque that builds on the teeth and gums. The major differences between human and cat toothpaste are the taste and additives.
Many cat toothpaste is made with meat flavorings to make them more appealing to cats. Since cats (and dogs) shouldn’t ingest fluoride, this ingredient isn’t added to any pet toothpaste! Instead, a variety of different enzyme ingredients are used to break down any bacteria or plaque.
Another difference between cat and human toothpaste is that some of the cat toothpaste doesn’t need to be brushed. Since brushing a cat’s teeth can be a challenge if the cat isn’t used to this form of grooming, many kinds of toothpaste can just be left on the gum line to work their way through the buildup.
Keep in mind if human toothpaste was safe for cats, it would be marketed this way. There are several ingredients in your toothpaste that can cause harm to your cat, such as sorbitol.
Is Sorbitol Safe For Cats In Toothpaste?
There are several ingredients in human toothpaste that aren’t ideal for cat toothpaste, including fluoride, sorbitol, and other chemicals that serve as whitening or foaming agents. A few names to be on the lookout for include:
- Xanthan gum which is a thickening agent used in toothpaste
- Titanium dioxide which serves as a whitening agent
- Sodium phosphate which fights plaque buildup
- Glycerin which serves as a binding agent for all the ingredients
Although these ingredients are safe for humans to use on their teeth, cat toothpaste should be more natural since they will ingest all of it rather than spitting it out. However, when it comes to sorbitol some cat owners may be unsure about the ingredient since it can be found in wet cat foods.
Sorbitol (which can also be listed as glucitol) is a natural sweetening ingredient that comes from stone fruit and since it has a subtle flavor is often the sugar alcohol used in pet foods. Unfortunately, just because it can be found in pet food doesn’t mean it’s a healthy ingredient.
In small quantities, the sugar alcohol likely won’t have any impact on your cat besides creating a nicer texture in their wet food. But this additive cannot properly be digested by cats and won’t be absorbed in the stomach. Since it isn’t absorbed until it reaches the large intestine, it has a laxative effect.
Sorbitol is often used in medicines that help cats to pass hairballs since it loosens stool and allows things to pass through the digestive system with more ease. This also means that it will loosen stool and if ingested in large quantities can create a chronic diarrhea problem.
If your cat has diabetes, this can be problematic as their body already creates sorbitol as a result of the disease. If you add more of this into their diet, they can develop diabetic neuropathy which is extremely painful but reversible by getting diabetes under control.
Therefore, keep sorbitol to a minimum in your cat’s diet and consult with your veterinarian before buying any toothpaste brand to ensure they won’t have any negative impacts. Check for diabetes often and always read the labels on your cat’s products to ensure they aren’t full of chemicals or additives that can cause stomach problems.
Types Of Cat Toothpastes
Depending on how your cat does with different grooming tasks, you may want to explore different kinds of toothpaste. Since most pets don’t like humans touching the inside of their mouths, it can be a challenge to introduce this task making it easiest to start at as young of an age as possible. Then, if they start to adjust well to the process, you can start to move through the different types of cat toothpaste.
If your cat never gets used to getting their teeth cleaned and puts up a fight when you try to brush, using toothpaste that doesn’t require brushing can reduce their stress and save you time. This type of toothpaste simply requires that you swab the paste across the gumline of your cat without any additional brushing or spreading.
This significantly reduces the amount of time you have to spend fussing around in their mouth, reduces your risk of getting bit, and minimizes their stress during the process. This may be a great starting place to introduce the idea of having your hands in their mouth and later you may be able to then start using toothpaste that requires brushing if that’s something you prefer.
Brushable toothpaste comes with a cat sized toothbrush and finger brush instead of a swab for application. Because of the nature of these kinds of pastes, they aren’t able to simply dissolve plaque and buildup on contact without being brushed into the teeth and gums.
Since this toothpaste requires more hands-on time with your cat’s teeth, it may be more difficult as you’re training your cat to get their teeth brushed.
When it comes to what you’re putting in your pet’s mouth and body, you must be staying as chemical free as possible. Since cats will not spit the toothpaste out as humans do, and paste that you purchase will be swallowed. Buying natural toothpaste will reduce any chemical ingestion or exposure.
Even if you find a toothpaste that says it’s natural, be sure to take a long look at the ingredient list and ask yourself if you know what all the items on the list are. If there are names that you cannot identify, they’re likely chemicals that can harm your cat’s health.
This is especially important to consider if you’re brushing your cat’s teeth daily or even weekly. The more often they’re ingesting the paste, the more likely it’ll impact them if there are chemicals or unhealthy ingredients.
Should You Buy Cat Toothpaste?
Since oral health is such an integral part of cat care, it’s highly recommended to buy cat toothpaste; however, not all toothpaste will benefit your cat in the same way. While some are better than others, all cat care items have downfalls.
To find a product you’re most satisfied with, be sure to read reviews to understand what the pros and cons of each toothpaste brand are; this way, you’ll be able to make a better informed decision.
Health is every pet owner’s number one priority which is why the number one upside to using cat toothpaste is better health. Cats can lose their teeth over time if they’re not properly cared for which can ultimately lead to an inability to eat proper food.
Most tooth loss comes from rotten teeth mostly from all the wet food they’ve been given. Toothpaste can prevent rotten teeth which can prolong your cat’s lifespan. Similarly, you’ll save money on dental cleanings and veterinary visits for your cat by managing simple oral hygiene at home.
Getting your cat’s teeth cleaned by a dentist is expensive and requires anesthesia. All of this can be avoided by using toothpaste every once in a while at home. By keeping the mouth healthy, you’ll also be able to keep the rest of their body healthier and free of disease.
By getting your cat used to tooth cleanings at home, you’ll also have much more ability to train your cat and check their health. Desensitization can take a while but is hugely important in reducing your cat’s stress both in the home, at the groomer, or the veterinarian.
The major cons of cat toothpaste come back to human ease. If you have a more difficult cat, you’re going to be at a much higher risk of being bitten or scratched while brushing their teeth. This may also cause you to lose some trust with your cat, making them wearier of you handling them.
Brushing a cat’s teeth can be time consuming, especially when opting for brushable toothpaste and unless you have time to commit to the task, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated.
If you don’t buy natural toothpaste, you may find that your cat starts to develop other issues due to chemical ingestion. While pet toothpaste is made to be safe to be swallowed, if you’re brushing frequently there will be a point at which any chemical additives can cause adverse effects.
There are so many cat toothpaste brands on the market it can be hard to narrow down which is the best for your cat. While you’re searching, be sure to consider the most important aspects of any toothpaste.
Swab Vs Brush
One of the most important considerations is whether or not you have to brush the toothpaste onto the teeth or not. For many cat owners, brushing is likely not an option, and therefore any toothpaste that requires time brushing is an unrealistic option for their cat.
If you have a cat that doesn’t like being handled, cannot hold still, or is at all aggressive you’ll have more success with a swab toothpaste since you can cover the gum line in a matter of seconds. This leaves more time and requires less cooperation from your cat.
If you opt for the brushable toothpaste, be sure to pay attention to the type of toothbrush you’re receiving. For some cats, a traditional human toothbrush may be either too large or too difficult to work with.
Alternatively, a finger brush may feel too dangerous since you’ll have to put your whole finger in the mouth of your cat. There are many cat toothbrushes on the market so don’t feel tied to the one your toothpaste comes with if you don’t feel comfortable using it.
If you’re unsure which type of toothpaste is best for your cat, it’s vital to think of their temperament. If your cat is calm and allows you to move their body around without much of a fight, it’ll likely be much easier to use a brushing paste. If your cat is less keen on being touched or held down for grooming, you’ll want to start slow.
You can even start the process by giving dental treats to your cat that have the same enzymes to break down plaque and bacteria. By starting with these for a few weeks, you’ll get the teeth cleaner so that brushing won’t be as difficult when you start introducing the toothpaste to your cat.
Any chemicals on the ingredient list of toothpaste should be further researched before being given to your pets. The best practice is always to consult your veterinarian to see what they recommend and run the ingredient list by them before you put it in your cat’s mouth to avoid any potential allergies or chemical problems.
While cat toothpaste isn’t going to destroy your monthly budget, make sure you compare toothpaste prices across different brands before settling on one. Since some are more specialty brands, they can be much more expensive. By doing proper research before buying anything, you’ll be sure to stick to your desired price range.
The flavor is a huge factor as cats have very different palettes than humans. Buying them minty toothpaste isn’t going to be ideal, but buying them meat flavored toothpaste will force more cooperation!
Try out a few different flavors to see what your cat likes most before committing to a large tube of one specific brand or flavor. If your cat likes the taste of the toothpaste, it’ll be significantly easier to get their teeth cleaned when it comes time to brush.
If your cat has any preexisting dental issues, you’ll need to be extra aware of what they need to maintain proper health. If they’ve had teeth removed or have any sensitivities be sure to consult your cat’s veterinarian and/or dentist to find which ingredients are best for your cat.
Since certain dental diseases can impact the mouth in different ways, doing proper research and consulting will help you to avoid any tooth sensitivities or pain.
How To Use Cat Toothpaste
Once you’ve settled on your cat’s toothpaste, it’s time to work up the courage to start cleaning your cat’s teeth at home.
If your cat is young or has never had their teeth cleaned, be sure you start slow with the training to not cause an extreme amount of stress during the first go. If you’re able to make it a more enjoyable experience, they won’t be as nervous the next time you come out with the toothpaste.
Restraining Your Cat
The most important step in successful grooming is having a good hold on your cat. If you cannot properly restrain, the process will be much more difficult and your cat will continue escaping from you.
Therefore, the best way to restrain is to either have one person to brush and one person to hold or to hold the skin on the back of your cat’s neck as this will best immobilize them.
Cat’s can be very nimble and can squeeze their way out of almost any hold, so make sure you have them firmly before you start brushing. If you’re worried about being clawed, wrap your cat in a towel or blanket. This will also help you to hold onto them more easily.
Before you start brushing, make sure to calmly approach your cat and give light touches around their muzzle to get them to relax. Once they feel more comfortable and relaxed, you can open their mouths by putting the tip of your thumb in then lifting up, this will separate their jaw.
Before your first brushing session, try to get a good look at all of their teeth to see if there’s a spot that requires additional cleaning or focus. If the teeth are generally healthy looking, you may not even need to open the jaw completely to brush, you may be able to simply lift the lips to apply the toothpaste on the gumline.
Make sure to stay as gentle as possible when brushing as some cats have more tooth sensitivity than others and if you go too fast over a sensitive spot it may result in you being bitten.
Ending On A Positive
When you finish brushing, even if it wasn’t the best session, always end on a positive by either stroking your cat for a while, having a play session, or giving a treat as a reward. Anything you can do to communicate to your cat that they did a great job will encourage them to put up with getting their teeth brushed again the next time.
The training reward can differ depending on your cat’s personality and preferences, but regardless of what you choose be sure to give it immediately after so that they will create a link in their head between getting their teeth cleaned and whatever reward you give.
The Best Cat Toothpaste
- FOR DOGS AND CATS: Enzymatic toothpaste...
- SAFE FOR DAILY USE: Includes no foaming...
- VET RECOMMENDED: Virbac is the Top...
Conclusion On Cat Toothpaste
While brushing a cat’s teeth can feel like a daunting task, it truly is crucial for maintaining their overall wellbeing and cutting down the cost of vet bills. Before buying the first toothpaste you see in the pet store, do some research to find exactly what type, flavor, and ingredient list will best benefit your cat.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I clean my cat’s teeth naturally?
You can try changing their diet or food intake. Gels, water additives, chew toys and small bones can help clean your cat’s teeth.
How often should you brush your cat’s teeth?
You can attempt to brush your cat’s teeth for 30 seconds daily. It’s best to ask your vet as your cat may have specific requirements.
Can I use human toothpaste on my cat?
No. Some natural human toothpaste might be safe for cats but, many will include toxic and potentially deadly ingredients for felines such as fluoride.
Last update on 2022-01-28 at 00:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API