Brushing Your Pets Teeth

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For The Love of Animals

Brushing Your Pets Teeth

Dental checkups are important for your pet and should be part of their annual Vet check appointment. Dog and cats can get tartar build up, gum disease and cavities just like humans. We can do our part in keeping your pets teeth healthy. Pets can live longer, healthier lives if oral health care is managed and maintained throughout their lives. In fact, proper dental care may add as much as five years to your pet's life! Dental disease doesn't affect just the mouth. It can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease, which makes it all the more important that you provide your pet with proper dental care from the start. Talk to your veterinarian about developing a dental care plan for your furry friend.

It is best to start brushing your pets teeth while they're young, but that isn't always possible. Ideally home tooth cleaning should start around age 8-12 weeks. Animals usually don't need maintenance this young, but by brushing a couple of times a week, they will become familiar with the routine when the permanent teeth erupt. It's recommended that you stop brushing while your pet is losing their baby teeth. Their mouth will be a bit sore and you poking around with the brush could cause more pain. Once all the permanent teeth are in you can start brushing again.

The first step is to get your pet used to you touching their mouth. With patience, your pet will soon accept what you need to do. Make it fun for your pet. Use love and praise to gain their confidence. Try to do it the same time every day and while you and your pet are calm.

You can start by handling the muzzle and tickling the lips. Soon you will be able to rub the teeth and gums with your finger.

Once your pet tolerates you touching their gums and teeth, the next step is to use a washcloth or gauze wrapped around your finger. Gently rub the teeth, starting with the front teeth and gradually work towards the back teeth.

The final step in conditioning your pet is to introduce a soft tooth brush. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and either brush back and forth, or from the gum line to the tip of the tooth. You can also start to use an animal toothpaste which comes in several flavours. Talk to your Vet to see which type of toothpaste is best suited for your pet.

Do not use toothpaste made for humans since it will cause stomach upset if swallowed. Baking soda, with its very high sodium content can be dangerous to older pets. Hydrogen peroxide is too harsh for the gums and must not be swallowed.

Between brushings, try to give mildly abrasive foods and toys such as dry kibble, raw hide strips and dense rubber chew-toys.

Courtesy of Marilyn Murray ~ For The Love Of Animals