We humans are not the only ones who get fuzzy teeth from not brushing. Most people are diligent in caring for their own oral hygiene, however, good dental care for our pets is just as important. Brushing their teeth regularly can help prevent heart disease, liver and kidney problems, especially as they age. Dental disease is a leading cause of death in cats and greatly affects dogs too. According to PetMeds, periodontal disease is an epidemic condition in dogs and cats, affecting almost 90% of adult pets.
If you’ve never been in the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth, it’s never too late to start! Be sure to start gradually and try to make it fun. If you have a new puppy or kitten, it is a perfect time to start the habit of brushing their teeth.
TIPS TO FOLLOW:
- Take it slow ~ with their mouth closed, gently lift their lips to brush; don’t scrub hard but be as thorough as possible. Some pets may be too skittish and absolutely refuse. If this is the case, speak with your veterinarian about having professional cleanings.
- Use a toothpaste made especially for dogs or cats. The toothpaste that we use is meant to be spit-out and pets will not spit out their toothpaste, they like to eat it. Human toothpastes contain ingredients that should not be swallowed by pets. If it is swallowed, it can cause an upset stomach or digestive disturbances. Some human toothpastes contain high levels of sodium which may even make your pet ill. Baking soda is not recommended either. It contains a high alkaline level. If swallowed, it can upset the acid balance in the stomach and digestive tract.
- Use a toothbrush that is designed specifically for pets and that would fit the size and shape of their mouth. Those toothbrushes that fit over your finger like a thimble might work well too. A cotton swab or soft cloth can also be used.
- 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 your pet’s teeth at least twice a week, if not more.
- Try to brush for 30 seconds per side.
A dog and cat's mouth contains lots of bacteria. If possible, wear gloves while brushing your pet’s teeth. If this isn’t possible, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after you are finished. Always rinse the toothbrush thoroughly before putting it away. Replace the toothbrush every three months, and if you have several pets, us a different toothbrush for each one.