posted: by: Willingboro Veterinary Clinic Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Dental disease is the #1 problem of cats and dogs: imagine how you would feel if you had not brushed your teeth for 8 years.

  1. Do it everyday.
  2. Do it at the same time every day.
  3. Do it in the same place every day.
  4. Make it fun.
  5. Build up gradually, don't spend more than 30-60 seconds.
  6. If you have a mature pet that you are teaching, set up a 3 week training period.

Week 1: Pet the pet's muzzle and the pull the lip back to feel the gums with your finger.

  • Remember to do everything daily, at the same time and place. This begins a habit. Finish with lots of praise and a treat. If a special treat is only given at this time many pets, even cats look forward to this.
  • Show your dog a treat, brush his teeth, then give him the treat. Another important trick for dogs is to use the pet's muzzle as a handle-cup one hand over the muzzle and slip a finger (eventually the brush) under the lips with the other hand. It's ok for your pet's mouth to remain closed, and realize that the brush should eventually reach back until it's just below the eye. Many people don't realize how far back the teeth go on the jaw bone.

Week 2: Pet the muzzle with the toothbrush and let the pet taste the toothpaste. Pet friendly flavors of toothpaste are readily available. (poultry, beef, salmon, malt, and vanilla mint) Repeat the same procedure as week 1 but use the toothbrush and toothpaste. For cats, ''pet'' the muzzle with the brush allowing the cat to brush against it.

Week 3: Start brushing. Try top teeth first by moving brush back and forth or in a circular motion. If the dog chews the toothbrush it's ok, in fact this allows the dog to brush his own teeth. If the dog licks the tooth paste that's ok too. One of the reason this works is because the pet likes the taste! If the pet licks the toothpaste you may have to put more on the brush. Make sure you do both sides. Tooth brushing may take a few weeks to master. Some animals catch on faster than others. This simple grooming procedure needs to be done for the rest of the pet's life. It doesn't matter how long it takes to master-it's important for their overall health. If your pet will absolutely not let you near his mouth there are products available that help control tarter (rinses, dental treats, and gels).

It’s good to chew, better to rinse, but best to brush!!!

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. "What about the inside of the teeth?" The lingual (inside) surface is actually brushed by two things - the movement of the lower teeth against the upper teeth and the movement of the tongue.
  2. "I have more than one pet." We suggest doing half of the family pet population every other day. (One pet a week is not enough.)
  3. "Is it ok to give a treat after brushing?" YES! Giving a treat is something a pet looks forward to. Remember only spend 30-60 seconds total. Don't make too big of a deal or the pet will tire. A dental chew is an excellent follow-up treat.
  4. "What if my pet only lets me brush one side?" Then alternate brushing sides daily.
  5. "What about rinsing?" It is OK for pet toothpaste to be swallowed. It works with an enzymatic action rather than a foaming one. *Be sure to use pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can cause vomiting when swallowed.