How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth
While it might seem like a challenging task, incorporating regular teeth brushing into your pet's routine can provide a number of benefits, not only for their oral health but for their overall well-being.
Brushing your pet's teeth helps to:
prevent diseases such as periodontal disease, gingivitis, and plaque buildup.
remove bacteria, food particles, and debris that contribute to foul-smelling breath.
stimulate the gums and promote blood circulation, which contributes to healthier gum tissue.
prevent systemic health issues, including heart, liver and kidney diseases.
save you money on expensive dental treatments or surgeries down the road.
make veterinary check-ups less stressful.
contribute to your pet's comfort, quality of life and overall happiness.
Getting Your Pet Comfortable With Oral Handling
Before brushing your pet's teeth, it's crucial to acclimate them to the sensation of having their mouth touched. For many pets, this can be an unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable experience.
1. Start Slowly. Begin by touching your pet's muzzle gently for short periods. Use a calm and soothing tone while doing so, and be sure to offer treats or praise after each touch.
2. Finger Exploration. Progress to gently lifting your pet's lips to expose their teeth. Use your finger to simulate the motion of brushing, but don't use a toothbrush just yet. Reward your pet with treats and verbal encouragement for their cooperation.
3. Introduce Toothpaste. Once your pet is comfortable with lip lifting, introduce pet-friendly toothpaste on your finger. Allow them to taste and lick the toothpaste. This helps create a positive association with the toothpaste's flavour and texture.
4. Gradual Progression. Over several days or weeks, gradually increase the duration of mouth touching and lip lifting. Always reward your pet's tolerance and cooperation with treats and praise. Your goal is to make this a stress-free and positive experience.
3. Praise and Affection. Along with treats, lavish your pet with verbal praise and gentle petting.
Brushing Your Pet's Teeth
What You’ll Need
1. Pet-friendly finger brush or toothbrush
2. Veterinary approved toothpaste
3. Treats or rewards
4. Towel or blanket
Step 1 - Finger Brush
After your pet is comfortable with your finger in their mouth, introduce a finger brush. Apply a small amount of toothpaste onto the brush and show the toothbrush to your pet, allowing them to sniff and investigate it. (Pet toothpaste comes in various flavours that your pet might find appealing.)
Step 2 - Brushing Motion
Before actually brushing your pet's teeth, gently mimic the brushing motion by moving the brush over their lips and along the outside surfaces of their teeth. Reward your pet for their cooperation with treats and praise. This step helps your pet become accustomed to the sensation and movement of the toothbrush.
Step 3 - Transition to Brushing
Once your pet is comfortable with the finger brush, you can begin actual brushing.
Start with a few gentle strokes along the outer surfaces of their teeth and gums.
Use circular motions for dogs, focusing on the gum line where plaque tends to accumulate. For cats, use slow, gentle strokes along the teeth.
Be patient and take breaks if needed. Offer treats and praise throughout the process to maintain a positive experience.
Step 4 - Gradual Progression
Over the course of several brushing sessions, gradually increase the duration and coverage of brushing. Aim for around 30 seconds to a minute of brushing on each side of the mouth. Continue to use positive reinforcement and rewards to reinforce your pet's cooperation. Once your pet is comfortable with the finger brush, you can begin to introduce a pet-friendly toothbrush using the same methods as above.
By gradually introducing the toothbrush and toothpaste through these steps, you're helping your pet become comfortable with the tools and the brushing process itself. Patience and positive associations are key to ensuring that your pet not only tolerates but also eventually enjoys their teeth brushing routine.
Remember, building trust and a positive experience around teeth brushing takes time. Each small victory, no matter how minor, contributes to your pet's comfort and eventual acceptance of the dental care routine. By following these strategies, you can help your pet develop a healthy relationship with oral care and make teeth brushing a positive part of their routine.
As always, we recommend regular dental checks with a veterinarian to ensure that your pet’s mouth is healthy and pain-free. To launch Dental Month, for the months of August & September we will be providing FREE dental checks for your pets by our nurses.
At this FREE check your pet will:
have a dental assessment and be provided with an assessment form
receive tailored advice to keep their mouths and thus health in tip-top shape
receive a FREE dental sample
To book, please call us on 9568 2211.