Brush Your Pet's Teeth

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How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Brushing your pet’s teeth is important for their health and may be a good bonding experience if approached correctly. Teaching your pet to enjoy having their teeth brushed will happen gradually; it is not something that may be accomplished all in one day. Above all keep it fun, because if it is not enjoyable, neither you nor your pet will want to do it and then it won’t get done.

First make sure you have the proper equipment. You may use a special toothbrush made for pets (this could be a finger brush or any other sort of toothbrush designed for pet sized mouths) or a pediatric human toothbrush. There is a special short brush with forward facing bristles that is designed specifically for cats and small dogs and may make it easier to work in their small mouths. It is necessary to use pet toothpaste as pets will swallow the toothpaste and the foaming agents and fluoride in human toothpaste will upset their stomach. Pet toothpaste are often flavored with meat flavors to taste good to pets and may help make the process more enjoyable.

The following is a sample schedule for beginning to brush your pet’s teeth. If things are going well you may be able to move more quickly. If it is becoming a struggle, back up a step or two until your pet is comfortable with the process. It may help you to pick a time of day; for instance after you brush your own teeth, to routinely brush your pet’s teeth. This way you pet knows when to expect it and you both may look forward to this part of your daily interaction.

Day One: Offer a small amount of the toothpaste on your pet’s toothbrush as a treat. Allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off and heap lots of praise on them for enjoying the toothbrush and toothpaste. You may repeat this step on subsequent days if necessary until your pet begins to look at the time when you offer the toothbrush with excitement.

Day Two: Once your pet is excited about the toothbrush you can start to brush your pet’s teeth. Put a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Put your hand around your pet’s muzzle (nose) to keep the mouth shut. If your pet finds this frightening, stop here and allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush. Repeat this process until your pet is comfortable being held in this manner. If your pet does not mind having his/her muzzle held, gently lift the upper lip over the canine (large fang tooth) and touch the toothbrush to this tooth for several seconds. You may move the brush in small circles. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Three: Repeat the activity from Day Two, only this time try to brush the whole canine tooth. Move the brush in a circular motion and try to keep the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and gum so that the bristles of the toothbrush reach under the gumline. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Four: Brush all 4 canines as above and then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise. If brushing all four at once is too much, just do as many as is comfortable for your pet. Try to increase the number of teeth you can do at a sitting gradually.

Day Five: Brush all 4 canines and the upper incisors (front teeth). Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Six: Brush all 4 canines and the upper and lower incisors. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Seven: Brush all canines and incisors and then lift the side of the upper lift and brush a couple of premolars (teeth right in back of the canines. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Eight: Brush all canines and incisors and premolars on one side of the mouth. The biggest tooth in the mouth is the upper fourth premolar. This is a tooth that very commonly gets a lot of dental calculus. Make sure to brush this tooth if possible. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Nine: Brush all canines and incisors. Brush all premolars and molars on one side. Molars are the teeth in back of the fourth premolar (the largest tooth in the mouth.) Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Day Ten: Brush all canines, incisors, premolars and molars. Then allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush and give your pet lots of praise.

Congratulations! You have now brushed all the teeth in your pet’s mouth. Now if everything is going well and you want to brush the insides of these teeth you progress in much the same way. To open your pet’s mouth tilt his/her head back to loosen the jaw and slip the brush inside. You may find that placing a small ball in the mouth and holding the jaws closed over the ball will make it easier to brush the inner surfaces of the teeth. Make sure the ball is not so small it may be swallowed or cause choking.

Even if you don’t brush the inner surfaces, just brushing the outer surfaces on a regular basis (at least twice a week) will keep the teeth a lot healthier. And keeping your pet’s teeth healthier will keep your whole pet healthier. I hope this helps make brushing your pet’s teeth easier for you to consider and something that your pet to which your pet looks forward. Approached with this attitude, brushing your pet’s teeth can become a good bonding activity for you and your pet.

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Salinas, California 93901
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