By familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of dental problems, providing a proper diet, and implementing a home dental care regimen, you can help your pet live a happier, healthier, longer life.
Start with a Healthy Mouth
The first step in promoting oral health is to contact your veterinarian for a thorough examination. At this time, it may be necessary to have your pet’s teeth cleaned above and below the gumline. Like people, animals need this professional attention on a routine basis.
Provide Consistent Home Dental Care
To follow up with a professional cleaning, it is equally important to continue caring for your pet’s teeth at home through brushing and diet. Your veterinary dentist can help you design a home dental care program for your pet.
Brushing the Teeth
Between cleanings, you should brush your pet’s teeth once a day, preferably after a meal. As you might expect, it takes a bit of effort to get an animal to accept a daily brushing. As with any pet, the younger the animal, the easier it is to implement a routine, but even if your pet is older, good dental hygiene is never too late. With patience and time any animal can be trained to accept home dental care (and also view it as a treat!)
- Select a convenient time when you and your pet are both relaxed.
- For the first few days, simply hold your pet as you normally do when petting him/her. Gently stroke the outside of your pet’s cheeks with your finger for a minute or two. After each session, reward your pet with an appropriate treat and lots of praise.
- Once your pet is comfortable, the first step is to dip your finger into beef boullion or tuna water, depending on your pet’s taste preference.
- Then, gently rub along the teeth and gums, starting from the front of the mouth and moving toward the back.
- When your pet accepts this, try using a piece of gauze or pantyhose instead of your finger.
- The next step is to buy one of the very soft, ultra-sensitive toothbrushes designed specifically for dogs or cats.
- For the next few days – after your pet has become comfortable with this activity – place a small amount of animal toothpaste on your finger and let your pet sample the flavor. For better results, try this when your pet is slightly hungry.
- Next, introduce your pet to an animal toothbrush or fingerbrush. Place a small amount of animal toothpaste on the brush. Gently raise your pet’s upper lip and place the brush against an upper tooth. With a slow circular motion, gently brush only that tooth and the adjoining gumline.
- Each day gradually increase the number of teeth brushed, but go slowly. Do not go beyond your pet’s point of comfort. Build up to approximately 30 seconds of brushing per side. And remember, after each session, reward your pet with a treat and lots of praise.
Remember to never use a human toothbrush, which is much too rough, and never use human toothpaste – it contains detergent which people spit out, but pets swallow, causing stomach upset.
Repeat and Reward
Be patient, proceed slowly and gently. Use plenty of petting and praise. Soon, both you and your pet will look forward to the time you spend together during this important health care procedure.