Teeth Brushing for Your Pets
You know how important dental care is for your oral hygiene and understand why the dentist recommends that you brush twice a day and floss. But pets don’t know this and need your help to achieve good oral care that prevents periodontal disease—inflammation of the gums. It is better to start brushing your pet’s teeth while they are young, just like with your children, because it becomes part of their normal, daily routine. But it is still possible to get your older pet in the teeth brushing habit.
With dogs and cats, make sure you have a special dog or cat toothbrush and toothpaste because the human versions of toothpaste can harm your animals’ digestive system, and their toothbrushes are specially-made for their teeth needs. Also, make sure you chose a time when your pet feels relaxed, and try to include it in part of their typical schedule, such as right after feeding or walking them.
Brushing Cats’ Teeth
With older cats, it is recommended to start out slow and complete a four-week process of preparing your cat for teeth brushing.
- During the first week let your cat adjust to the toothpaste flavor (seafood, malt, poultry, etc.) by licking it off your finger.
- The next week, rub the toothpaste on your cat’s teeth with your finger, so she can adapt to something on her teeth. After you finish, give your cat a treat she enjoys.
- The third week you can now put the cat toothbrush with toothpaste in the cat’s mouth, but don’t brush yet. Just let it sit in her mouth, so she gets used to the feeling of it.
- Finally, the fourth week you can begin brushing your feline’s teeth. Focus on the outside of the teeth because her tongue cleans the inside area.
Brushing Dogs’ Teeth
Depending on your dog, you can try the month-long training process above, but dogs are sometimes more open to teeth-brushing than cats. If your dog is adjusting quickly, you can reduce training to a few days before the first teeth brushing.
- First, let your dog lick the toothpaste and try it. Then rub your finger on the gums of his teeth, so he can adjust to something in his mouth.
- Then do the same with the toothbrush. Make sure the bristles go under the gum line while you are brushing, and brush in small circles from back to front.
- If your dog only lets you brush the outside of the upper teeth first, that is fine. Don’t try to brush all the teeth the first time—try to ease into it.
If you brush your pet’s teeth daily, you are helping them prevent painful periodontal disease. So each day when you brush your teeth, don’t forget your pets’ too.