Do you ever think about brushing your pet’s teeth? Most people never think about the importance of this for their pet, however, good dental care for our pets is just as important as good dental care is for humans. Brushing our pet’s teeth regularly can help prevent heart, liver and kidney problems as they age. Additionally, pets will not let us know if there is a problem in their mouth, such as an abscessed tooth and may continue to eat normally despite the fact they’re in pain. By regularly brushing their teeth, we are able to watch for problems that may arise and deal with them quickly.
If you’ve never been in the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth, it’s never too late to start a good habit. Below are some tips that will help you ease your pet into this routine and set him on a path to better wellness.
TIPS FOR BRUSHING THEIR TEETH
- Use a toothpaste made especially for dogs. The toothpaste that we use is meant to be spit-out and dogs will not spit out their toothpaste; they like to eat it. Most likely your vet or local pet supply store will sell toothpaste that is appropriate for your pet.
- Use a toothbrush that is designed specifically for pets. Again, the toothbrushes that we use may not be suitable for your dog, especially if you have a very small dog. Your vet or pet supply store may sell the kind of toothbrush that fits over your finger like a thimble. These toothbrushes work great for pets. Also, if you have more than one pet, they each should have their own toothbrush (just like we do).
- Try to make it rewarding for your pet. Give them lots of praise and take some time to play with them before and after.
- Brush in the back of their mouths. We point this out because it can be easy to miss problems that may be lurking in the back of their mouths.
- Start early. If you have a new puppy or kitten, there is no time like the present to start the habit of brushing their teeth.
- Offer your dog a dental chew on a daily basis to help keep his teeth clean.
HOW TO START THE HABIT
If your dog (or cat) is older and not in the habit of brushing, it’s important to start gradually. Some pets may be so skittish about it they refuse. If that’s the case, don’t force it, but you may want to talk with your vet about having their teeth professionally cleaned. If your pet cooperates, take it slow and let them get used to the process. First let them taste the toothpaste, then gradually add the toothbrush into the process. Try to keep your dog’s mouth closed and gently lift their lips to brush their teeth. Beyond that, consider how you brush your own teeth; don’t scrub hard and be as thorough as possible. It may take time, but eventually your dog or cat will get used to the process and you may find they enjoy it. If you have difficulties or you have concerns about anything you may discover in your pet’s mouth, call your vet right away. Acting quickly is the best safeguard for your pet’s health.