Did you know that your pet’s teeth should be brushed just like yours? Unfortunately they can’t do that for themselves, but you can be involved in your pet’s dental health in a way that isn’t time consuming and is painless if you go about it the right way. Here are some tips to consider when you’re about to brush their teeth.
1. Pick a right time.
You actually don’t have to brush your pet’s teeth every single day of the week. It is ideal, but not completely necessary. A good routine to work yourselves into would be brushing two or three times a week. Don’t randomly decide to brush, you should designate a time of day such as the end of the day. Begin a routine with your pet so that they begin to recognize when it is time to brush their teeth.
2. Get the correct brushing tools.
Human dental care isn’t the same as pet dental care. First and foremost, don’t use any human toothpaste with your dog or cat. The ingredients in human toothpaste may irritate their mouths or stomach if ingested. There are many toothpastes on the market that are made with pets in mind with flavors that they will find appealing.
Also, don’t use a human tooth brush with them either. The bristles may be too tough and abrasive for their teeth and gum lines. Instead, opt for a pet friendly toothbrush with softer bristles and specialized angles to fit into your pet’s mouth. There are even pet toothbrushes that come with longer handles so that you can reach farther places in the mouth of a big dog. For small dogs, there are finger brushes that are small enough to fit on your finger and are small enough to cover all the teeth in a pet under 30 pounds.
3. Ease into it.
When you establish your routine of brushing, make it a comforting experience for your pet rather than a frightening one. Sit at their level instead of standing and stooping down to their level. They will recognize that this is not an aggressive stance, rather, a familiar one. They will be more open to being vulnerable with you.
Then, start opening your pet’s mouth with your fingers and begin to rub gently on their teeth and gum line. Again, ease into it by using your fingers at first and then work your way up to a toothbrush. Your pet will have to be comfortable with a foreign object that isn’t food or a toy entering their mouth, and that may take some getting used to.
After that, try doing the same thing with the pet toothpaste on your finger. Let your pet taste it, and then see if they respond positively or negatively to the flavor. If they respond positively, start rubbing it along their teeth and gum line so that they will become used to the sensation. If they respond negatively, try again later with a different flavor.
4. Brush gently while focusing on problem areas.
Once you’ve found a flavor that your pet likes and your pet is comfortable with you cleaning their mouth, it’s time to start brushing their teeth. Place a small amount on the toothbrush like you would for yourself. Lift their upper lips and begin to brush at their gum line gently. Don’t aggressively scrub, rather, gently massage the area and let the bristles and toothpaste do the work for you.
Continue this for their entire set of teeth. If light bleeding occurs, that’s nothing to worry about. Heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not get any better over time is a cause for concern. Schedule a visit with your vet to see if gum disease is a problem that your pet is dealing with.
Much like humans, plaque from leftover food consumption can easily build up over time along the gum line. This plaque can put your pet at risk for painful tooth decay, severe gum disease and bad breath. More severe consequences could lead to life threatening bacterial infections that eat away at your pet’s mouth.
If you’ve never had your pet’s teeth cleaned before or your pet just isn’t cooperating with your efforts, feel free to contact us at Longview Animal Hospital. We do offer professional pet teeth cleaning services. While there we could also assist you in specialized tips and tricks to have your pet cooperate with you at home.