Your pet’s dental health is important. Without preventive care, including daily tooth brushing and annual veterinary cleanings, tartar can accumulate on the surface of your pet’s teeth and beneath the gum line. If left untreated, painful periodontal disease will develop. The tartar beneath the gum line can introduce bacteria into your pet’s bloodstream, where it can travel to her major organs and put her at risk of developing problems with her heart, liver, and kidneys.
To keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy, daily brushing is recommended. Whether you have a dog or a cat, check out our step-by-step guide on how to brush your furry friend’s teeth.
Brushing your dog’s teeth
- Purchase a toothbrush or finger brush appropriate for your dog’s size along with pet-specific toothpaste.
- Choose a calm, quiet part of your home and a time of day when your dog is relaxed.
- Start slowly by allowing your pup to taste a small dab of the toothpaste from your finger, praising her after she’s licked it. Allow her to sniff the brush, rewarding her with a treat or praise after. Also, gently lift her lips and take a look at her teeth, following with a treat. Do this daily, over the course of about a week to create a positive association with the tools and with you putting your hands in and around her mouth.
- Once your dog is comfortable, apply a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and allow her to sniff and lick it. Touch the toothbrush to her teeth in the front, sides, and back of her mouth. Go slowly and reward often. Repeat this until she seems comfortable, and then you can begin brushing her teeth.
- Apply toothpaste to the brush, then hold the upper lip up while brushing her front teeth. Reward with affection and praise. Gently continue brushing as you move toward the sides and back of the upper teeth. Repeat these steps for the bottom teeth, and reward her once the process is complete.
- If your pet reacts negatively during any step, stop what you are doing immediately. The next day, go back to a previous step and do that again for a few days until she seems comfortable again.
Brushing your cat’s teeth
- Purchase a toothbrush specifically designed for cats, or use a gauze square, along with a cat-specific toothpaste. Fish or poultry flavors are favorites.
- Like dogs, cats will do best if you find a calm, quiet location in your home for brushing sessions.
- Choose a time when your cat is calm, like after exercise or play. Avoid startling or waking her prior to brushing.
- Slowly introduce the toothbrush and toothpaste. Allow your cat to become comfortable with them, leaving the brush out with a small dab of paste on it for her to smell.
- Apply toothpaste to your finger, and let her lick it. If she doesn’t want to taste, put a small amount near her mouth for her to lick. Reward once she has licked the toothpaste, creating a positive association. Repeat this process for about a week.
- Help your cat get used to you putting your hands in and around her mouth. Slowlylift her lips to see her teeth, rewarding often.
- Once she’s comfortable, apply a small amount of toothpaste to your finger and put it on her teeth. Follow with a reward.
- After several days, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, and encourage her to lick it off. When she does, reward her.
- Once she is accustomed to everything you’ve introduced (this will likely take weeks), you can begin to brush her teeth. Gently pull back the upper lip and brush between the gums and lips. Start along the sides of the mouth, working your way toward the front and back of the outer surfaces of the teeth. Her tongue will clean the inside surfaces of the teeth. Reward with treats once complete.
When brushing your dog or cat’s teeth, make the experience enjoyable and use products specifically for pets. Human toothbrushes can be too large and firm, and human toothpaste can be toxic if swallowed. Use positive reinforcement (rewarding with praise, affection, and treats), go slowly, and stop if your pet becomes agitated to prevent her from developing negative associations with having her teeth brushed.
Have questions about brushing your pet’s teeth? Great! We are ready to answer them. Even better, bring in your supplies and your pet and let us help you. When was the last time your pet had an oral exam? Let us change that. Call our office and get one scheduled!