You Can Learn to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth!
Unfortunately, many owners are still reluctant to take pet dental care seriously, even though dental health is a strong indicator of overall health. From tooth loss to kidney disease, neglecting your pet’s mouth can have severe consequences.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! To brush your pet’s teeth at home is the best preventive care strategy to protecting your dog or cat’s pearly whites. Keep reading to learn more about pet dental care and how to brush your pet’s teeth with ease.
The Chewing Myth
One of the reasons we often hear owners give for opting out of dental care is that wild animals don’t brush their teeth, they chew. While that’s partially true (some debris is removed by chewing sinew and bone), keep in mind that wild animals also don’t lead very long lives.
Wild animals suffer from myriad dental conditions as well – we just don’t see it. From broken teeth to infections, this definitely isn’t what we want our pets to experience.
If you’re considering a bone or rawhide chew in place of proper dental care, think again! This is potentially dangerous, as bones can splinter or pose a choking hazard (as can rawhide).
Lastly, some owners may rely strictly on dental chews to meet all their pet’s needs, but these can never take the place of regular brushing and consistent veterinary dental care.
How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Before we begin, it’s best to ease your pet into this practice by starting slowly and choosing a time when he or she is most relaxed (perhaps after a walk or meal time). Purchase pet toothpaste, a pet toothbrush, a rubber finger brush, and some small rewards (such as low-calorie treats).
Once you’ve gathered the proper tools, follow these instructions to properly brush your pet’s teeth:
- For the first few weeks, you may want to start by using a rubber finger cover as your brush (or just your finger, if your pet doesn’t attempt to bite). Dip your finger in chicken or beef broth as an added benefit. The goal is just to get your pet used to the sensation of his or her teeth and gums being touched.
- After your pet is comfortable with the finger method, start using a toothbrush held at a 45 degree angle. Begin by brushing your pet’s front teeth using circular and up-and-down motions. Take a break if he or she becomes uncomfortable.
- To brush the back of your pet’s mouth, lift the head by holding the muzzle, and open the jaws by gently squeezing between the top and bottom teeth.
- Using your angled brush, repeat the circular and up-and-down motions, paying special attention to the gums as well as the teeth.
- When finished, provide verbal praise, a good head scratch, or a small treat as a reward.
If your pet is too fidgety during this process, try wrapping the torso in a large towel for comfort and to prevent being scratched (especially helpful for cat owners).
An Important Reminder
Although brushing your pet’s teeth is an extremely effective practice, complete dental health also incorporates regular wellness exams.
The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are always here to help. Just give us a call if you have any questions about how to brush your pet’s teeth!
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