Tips on How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

February 19, 2018

From the Desk of Dr. Lisette Wigton, DVM and Veterinary Assistant Department Head:

Brush my pet’s teeth? That is impossible! Where do I even start? This one simple thing that you can do at home, even just a few times weekly, can make such an impact on not only your pets oral health but overall health as well. Even if you were not able to start with your pet early in life there are a few tricks you can try to help your pet get used to a new daily routine.  Dogs are different from cats but each of these recommendations can apply to both species

Whether you are going to begin introducing tooth brushing to your cat or dog, the interaction should be positive. Reward your pet immediately after each session with treats they like. Begin by getting your pet used to your finger around their mouth. Place some cat or dog (species-specific) toothpaste on your finger and see if they are interested. You may have to try different flavors but give them several tries before determining they are not interested. You can have the toothbrush near you for them to explore.  Do not force the issue, be patient and attempt these steps only as long as your pet will allow. This can take time so be patient.

Gauze on your finger or a small washcloth can be used as a next step after finger acceptance but before the toothbrush. Rubbing their gums gently along the gumline is the goal and if they accept the finger with gauze, begin to introduce the toothbrush. Only the outside of the teeth need be brushed and you only may be able to brush one side initially. If you notice any blood on the gauze call your veterinarian for advanced treatment options.

cat teeth

While working your way up to daily brushing is the ideal goal, even brushing several times a week will offer your pet a chance at better oral health. Be patient and positive and make it a bonding experience. Before you know it this “impossible” task may be part of your new daily routine.

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