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Do I need to brush my cat’s teeth?

By Dr. Jeff Kaplan, Feline Veterinarian at West Roxbury Animal Hospital


Dr. Kaplan is a graduate of Cornell University and Tufts Veterinary School of Medicine. He specializes in feline medicine; he began working at Boston Cat Hospital and then founded Metro Cat Hospital of Brookline, where he worked for 25 years.


While as a veterinarian, I recommend brushing your cat's teeth ideally three times a week, it is often very challenging due to their reluctance. If you have a cooperative kitten or cat, it's more feasible. However, if brushing isn't possible, there are alternatives.

Consider these options:

  • Professional Dental Cleanings: Regular vet visits for dental cleanings are effective but may be costly.

  • Dental Supplements: Products like PlaqueOff can be added to your cat's daily diet to reduce plaque. 

  • Special Dental Care Cat Food: Options like Hill's Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care (requires a vet's prescription) can be added to your cat’s daily diet to help reduce plaque. Consult the packaging or your vet for feeding guidelines.

  • Dental Treats: Greenies dental treats are popular and may help with dental hygiene.


Additionally, monitor your cat for signs of dental health problems, including:

  • Less interest in eating, especially dry food or hard treats.

  • Changes in chewing habits, like eating more slowly, dropping food, or pawing at the mouth.

  • Increased drooling, which may indicate pain or discomfort.

  • Bad breath, a common indicator of dental problems.

  • Visible issues like discolored, loose, or broken teeth, or swelling around the mouth.


If you observe any of these symptoms, seek veterinary advice for a comprehensive dental check-up and treatment.

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