Our pets can’t talk, of course, but if they could, they might ask you to please brush their teeth. After all, how would you feel if you didn’t brush your teeth for years, or ever see a dentist?
Plaque and tartar are all too common in pets. In fact, studies show that once pets reach 4 years of age, over 85% of them have some form of dental disease. But this common problem is also preventable.
You may be rolling your eyes at the tooth brushing idea – we get that sometimes! But, bear with me. Learning how to brush your pet’s teeth is not as hard as you think. Just like people, pets do best if we start a good tooth brushing habit when they’re young, but even older animals can learn to tolerate and even enjoy this daily attention. We’ll show you how!
Pet Dental Basics
Plaque and tartar build up on your pet’s teeth every day. If this is never brushed away, the buildup can cause gingivitis, bacterial infection in the mouth, and loose and broken teeth. But that’s not all. Bacteria in the mouth don’t stay there – they are swallowed and can damage your pet’s internal organs, including their heart, liver, and kidneys.
i recommend you start with a clean slate. A professional dental cleaning will remove plaque and tartar, ensure your pet doesn’t have any broken or loose teeth, and will smooth tooth surfaces to prevent plaque and tartar from accumulating. Once your pet’s teeth are clean, you can begin a daily brushing routine to help keep dental disease at bay in between cleanings.
The Daily Brush
Before you begin, gather the right tools. You’ll need a small pet toothbrush that will fit your pet’s mouth. You can use a finger brush for cats and small dogs. You will also need pet toothpaste, as human toothpaste can make your pet sick.
- Gently handle your pet’s muzzle each day, to make them comfortable with being touched around their mouth
- Let your pet lick a small amount of toothpaste off your finger
- Gradually slide your finger into their mouth
- Substitute the toothbrush for your finger, using the same process
- Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle from your pet’s teeth
- Use a circular motion to brush the outside surfaces of your pet’s teeth
- Work up to 30 seconds per side of the mouth
Do each of these steps on a different day, going slowing and praising often. And keep at it! Brushing your pet’s teeth takes a commitment from you, patience, and practice. But the payoff is great – your pet will have a healthier mouth, be more comfortable, and live a longer life of overall better health when their teeth are taken care of.