Most of us know that brushing our pet’s teeth is a good idea. Most of us also have no idea how to do that! Here are a few tips to get you started. Be sure check out the video at the end of this blog of Dr Miller teaching her puppy about toothbrushing.
- Make it fun. Treats are ok during or after toothbrushing! Pet’s are less prone to cavities then humans are, so eating after toothbrushing doesn’t ruin the beneficial effect.
- Make it a habit. Calculus (or tartar) hardens on the tooth in about 72 hours and then it becomes very hard to get off. Brushing once a day is best. Every other day is ok too. Dr Miller keeps her dog’s toothbrush and toothpaste on the bathroom counter and brushes his teeth every night after she brushes her own. Find a way to make it a habit for you.
- Keep it short. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to brush every surface of every tooth every time. In fact, brushing the tongue side of the teeth is difficult and most pets don’t accumulate much tartar there. Focus on the cheek sides of the teeth – especially the upper molars, the big fangs (canine teeth) and the incisors in the front. This is where most pets accumulate the most tartar.
- Be gentle. Your pet’s mouth is sensitive, just like yours! You don’t want to bang into their gums or the back of their mouth. You don’t want to scrub too hard with the brush and cause discomfort. Gentle pressure and consistent brushing are what you need.
- Use a pet specific toothpaste. We like C.E.T. Enzymatic toothpaste by Virbac best. This toothpaste can be swallowed, it does not need to be rinsed or spit out. And it helps to break down the tartar while you brush their teeth.
- If your pet is chewing on the toothbrush, try gently holding their mouth in the closed position while you brush. Keep brushing extra short (1-2 seconds at first) and gradually build up time as they get the hang of it.
- If you feel your pet is going to bite you – toothbrushing may not be the best plan for your pet. We can give you tips on other options.
- Once again – make it fun! If you and your pet hate it, you won’t do it. Dr Miller’s dog may not “love” getting his teeth brushed. But by employing these techniques, he comes and waits each evening to get his teeth brushed (and get his treat).