Dental Care for Pets: Cat Teeth vs. Dog Teeth

In the age-old battle of cats vs. dogs, it’s a draw when it comes to their dental health.

From temperament to toys, cats and dogs are vastly different. But what about your pet’s teeth? We’re not going to fight like cats and dogs, but we are going to compare and contrast in a dental duel.

Cats start with 26 teeth and then get 30 full adult teeth by the time they’re 6 months old. Dogs have more pearly whites than their feline friends. They start with 28 baby teeth and eventually have 42 permanent teeth.

Both animals are prone to dental disease—especially once they’re a few years old. It’s estimated that at least 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have gum disease by age 3. Symptoms of gum disease differs between the two animals, so it’s important to ask your vet about your pet’s dental health at their annual checkup.

You can help take care of your dog or cat’s teeth at home to reduce the risk of dental disease. Toothbrushes are the most effective way to remove plaque. An angled, soft-bristled brush can help you get into those nooks and crannies.

Cats tend to resist more than dogs, so take baby steps before brushing. Begin by dipping your fingers in tuna water and then gently rubbing their gums with gauze. Next use a finger brush, eventually graduating to a cat toothbrush. But no kitty is complaisant. Be patient—experiment with different toothpaste flavors, brushes and dental rinses.

If you have more questions about your pet’s teeth, call your veterinarian for advice.

DENTAL HEALTH SHOWDOWN: CATS VS. DOGS

Cats Dogs
Number of Teeth 30 42
Susceptible to Dental Disease Yes Yes, especially smaller breeds
Broken Teeth Yes Yes
Crowded or Misaligned Teeth Yes, especially in certain breeds Yes
Bad Breath Yes, but not as noticeable Yes

Sources: Teeth, Diseases of the Mouth & Dental Care in Dogs; Teeth, Diseases of the Mouth & Dental Care in Cats; VetStreet; PetHealth101

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