Care of the teeth is one of the most important yet often ignored aspects of health care for your pet. If not addressed, dental infection can not only cause painful problems in the mouth, but can also enter the bloodstream, damage vital organs and shorten your pet’s life. Just as people may need to have regular professional teeth cleaning, so may our pets, especially since most of them don’t brush daily. Some pets may need their teeth cleaned yearly, while some may require it less often.
Periodontal disease affects approximately 85% of dogs and 75% of cats. Therefore it is really important to maintain the oral health of your pet. You may think you can’t brush your pet’s teeth but you can. It just takes time and consistent effort. You have to approach this slowly and get your pet used to you touching their head, face, and mouth. Do it when you have time and are not rushed. It should be a pleasant routine for you and your pet.
Brushing your pet’s teeth at home
1. This works best if you spend 30-60 seconds each day at the same time with your pet. Start by just petting your pet’s head and face. Make them feel the love and affection. Say their name and give praise. End the session with some “special” treat or enjoyable game. Do not move to the next step until you and your pet are comfortable with the last step.
2. Gradually, over the course of weeks, begin to move from touching the lips to the teeth. You may put a small amount of dog/cat toothpaste on your finger at this time, which most pets enjoy. (Do NOT use human toothpaste.) Do not move on until you and your pet are VERY comfortable at this point. Remember to end every session on a high note with a special treat or game.
3. Now try to use the brush on some of the front teeth. Just get your pet used to the brush. Again the praise, affection, and treats. Hopefully your pet is getting the idea that this isn’t too bad. They are getting a lot of attention, time with you, and some wonderful treats, and every session ends with a special treat or game.
4. Now maybe you can add a few more teeth to the list. The most important thing is to avoid anything that causes your pet discomfort or anxiety. Gradually, you can move from brushing the easy to reach teeth, to the teeth in the back of the mouth. It is ideal to brush daily, but even brushing three times a week will improve your pet’s dental health. Use a soft brush, there are many types of brushes available. Ultimately teeth brushing will be something enjoyable for both you and your pet.