Can you imagine what would happen if you stopped brushing your teeth? Even with eating mainly hard food, as most pets do, there would still be problems. Ideally, you should be brushing your cat, dog, or ferret’s teeth daily. Don’t worry. It’s not as difficult as you may imagine.
Pick the type of brush that you are comfortable using and will fit the mouth of your pet. You can choose from long handled, extra soft bristled animal tooth brushes. For smaller pets, a finger tooth brush that fits over the tip of your finger works well. If neither of these options feel right, I have seen the dental wipes help to keep plaque away if used on a daily basis.
Your next step is to pick the appropriate toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste as it has fluoride which is harmful to pets when swallowed. The best pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help control plaque. Place the toothpaste BETWEEN bristles to allow the past to spend the most time next to the teeth and gums.
Now you need to get the brush with the paste into your pet’s mouth to get all the teeth brushed. Start introducing the brushing process to your pet slowly. You can use a damp washcloth or gauze to wipe the teeth, front and back in the same manner you will eventually be using the toothbrush. Praise you pet during the process and offer teeth-healthy treats, such as dental chews as reward. Do this daily for two week, or until your pet is familiar with the approach. Then take the pet toothbrush, soak it in warm water and start brushing daily for several days on a row. When your pet accepts this brushing, it is time to add the toothpaste.
Most attention should be given to the UPPER teeth. The bristles should be placed at the gum margin, where the teeth and gums meet, at a 45 degree angle. Complete ten short back and forth motions, then move the brush to a new location. Cover three to four teeth at a time.
We All Win With Daily Dental Care
Your pet’s dental care should include daily brusing using pet toothpaste. Taking an active role in your pet’s dental health will improve their quality of life by reducing painful dental disease, bad breath, and potentially life threatening heart and kidney disease. Everyone wins.
By Dr. Audrey Adkins, VMD
I have a bone to pick. Real bones are NOT a good idea for dogs and cats. I know there are alot of stories out there how “my dog does just fine with bones” but I have seen alot of major medical problems through the years caused by chewing on bones.
Avoid Real Bones
Many products such as knuckle bones, leg bones, antlers, and cow hooves are promoted in stores to keep your dogs’ teeth clean. Unfortunately, the manufacturing companies are not required to monitor the safety of these products. VOHC is a voluntary certification that products can achieve by proving efficacy with dental cleaning and low risk of health problems.
Healthy Teeth are Important for a Healthy Pet
Dental health is important to maintain in your pet. Good dental hygeine reduces the risk of premature heart disease, liver disease, and kidney disease. A healthy mouth is also much more comfortable. Dogs and cats tend to hide their dental pain. Many of our clients have told us they did not realize how much pain their companions were in, until AFTER they have a dental procedure performed. Of course, it also helps prevent the dreaded “doggy breath.”
The Importance of Brushing Daily (Even for our Pets)
Maintaining good dental hygeine is best achieved with DAILY tooth brushing, and full dental cleaning under anesthesia, as recommended by your veterinarian. Chewing on hard substances will help keep molars clean, but unfortunately will not help the other teeth in the mouth. When the substance is too hard, such as a real bone, we see fractured teeth that abscess, intestinal obstructions, constipation as they try to pass bone chips, upset stomach with vomiting, and other problems.
Good Dental Health starts with Wise Choices
Please choose wisely when giving your pet things to chew. Choose products with the VOHC approval and monitor when giving them new substances. If your pet will allow it, brush his/her teeth daily. Have a dental check up annually to detect problems early. Avoid real bone to avoid your pet from painful broken teeth and painful upset stomachs.
By Dr. Audrey Adkins, VMD