February is National Pet Dental Health Month. We just love cats to cheek-rub our face with affection, but not if tuna-breath slaps you upside the head. Bacteria from dirty teeth cause pungent cat breath, but dental health needs more than a breath mint.
About 70 percent of cats develop dental problems, called periodontal disease, by age three! For a thorough cleaning, veterinarians must first anesthetize your cat. It’s much easier to prevent problems before they start. Here are five tips to take the yuck out of kitty kisses.
Feed Some Crunch
Wet foods can be a healthy way to feed cats, but they can increase the chance for tartar buildup. Offering cats some crunchy foods can help. Commercial “dental diets” are also available that include special ingredients that help prevent tarter from adhering to the teeth.
Offer Dental Treats
You can find both crunchy and soft dental treats that can help keep cats’ teeth bright. These encourage cats to chew, and also include the same types of ingredients found in special dental diets to reduce tartar accumulation.
Treat With Steak
Cats don’t tend to chew their food, though, and instead grab small mouthfuls and swallow. Try offering your cat a small hunk of firm cooked steak once a week. That way they must chew off a swallow-able amount, and chewing can help naturally scrub the teeth.
Rinse The Teeth
Dental rinses are available that can be added to your cat’s drinking water. These help reduce the amount of tartar.
Offer Kitty Tooth Paste
Malt and chicken flavored pet tooth pastes often appeal to cats as a treat. The enzymes in the paste can work to improve dental health even without brushing. Offer a bit of the paste on your finger as a kitty treat a couple of times a week.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.