Have you ever forgotten to brush your teeth before going to bed at night? Can you imagine forgetting to brush your teeth for several years?
Did you know that Periodontal Disease is one of the most common diseases affecting dogs and cats? Some owners assume bad breath is normal, and don’t realise that, amongst other things, it could indicate that their pet has dental disease (aka ‘periodontal disease’).
Step 1 – When is the right time?
Start when your pet is relaxed and calm. Ideally, you’d aim to brush your pet’s teeth daily, but if your pet’s teeth are healthy, just three times a week can make a difference. Without brushing, plaque can build up. putting your pet at risk of bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay.
You will need a soft-bristled toothbrush or finger brush and pet toothpaste. Depending on the size of your pet’s mouth and teeth, you can select which end of the toothbrush to use or choose to use the finger brush. Whichever makes it easier for everyone!
Step 3 – Test the toothpaste
Pet toothpaste contains enzymes that help control plaque. Please DO NOT use human toothpaste! Allow your pet to lick some toothpaste from your fingertip or off the toothbrush, so they can get used to its texture and taste. There are generally a few flavours to choose from (such as chicken and beef). Hopefully, you will find a flavour they like, so that they see the toothpaste as a yummy treat.
Make sure you are in a comfortable area. Don’t hold your pet down or stand above them threateningly. Try sitting or kneeling in front of them or just off to their side. Gauge your pet’s anxiety levels and stop if they seem upset, then try again later. You will need to work on each step over a period of time. Raise your pet’s top lip so you can see their teeth. Most pets accept brushing if they are approached in a gentle manner. Start when they are young and they will tolerate the process much more happily.
Once your pet is happy with the toothpaste, start by putting a small amount on the bristles. Lift their upper lip and approach the teeth with the brush. Make sure the bristles of the finger brush or toothbrush are at a 45 degree angle against their teeth and gum line. Use a small circular motion when using brushes.
You may only get a few teeth done at first, but keep going and they will get used to the process in time. Aim for at least 2 minutes of cleaning. If you can’t do the inside of their teeth, that’s fine. Their coarse tongue and toothpaste will help to keep the teeth clean. Minor bleeding is OK every so often, but heaver bleeding may indicate that you are brushing too hard or that they have signs of gum disease. Come and see us if this is happening.
Step 6 – Be reassuring
Remind your pet what a good boy or girl they are by giving them a pat. When you are finished brushing your pet’s teeth, reward them with one of their favourite treats or a play session. Try to always finish on a positive note and while everyone’s still having fun. Remember that good dental care doesn’t end with brushing. Certain chews, treats and toys can also help you fight plaque build up.
We do FREE dental checks here at the clinic Monday to Saturday. We can also set up a 6 month reminder to prompt you to bring your pet in for their free dental check, to help keep an eye on their dental health.