5 Tips for Brushing Pet Teeth
Published on: February 2, 2018
There’s no denying it. Dogs and cats are pretty much the cutest things out there. The internet has endless photos to prove this. However, nothing ruins a snuggle session with your companion quicker than bad pet breath! If your dog or cat has stinky breath, your first step should be a visit to your regular veterinarian. Bad breath can often be a sign of other health issues. If your vet gives your companion a clean bill of health, it’s time to consider a good dental routine. We spoke with a couple of Wag N’ Wash groomers to come up with these five tips for brushing pet teeth.
1) Start Early
Generally speaking, your pet isn’t going to like having a toothbrush stuck in his mouth. He doesn’t understand that it’s for his own good, just that it’s uncomfortable. Our groomers recommend you start getting your pet used to the process when they’re young. At about six months of age cats and dogs have their adult teeth in place, so this a good time to begin. You can start out slow by putting some toothpaste on a toy so they get used to the taste. From there you can use a brush or your finger to put the paste directly in their mouth. Don’t worry about getting every tooth at first, you just want to build the habit. The key here is consistency. You want to try and do this every day until you can gently brush their teeth without too much struggle.
2) Types of Brushes
Our groomers have a couple of different tips when it comes to choosing the right toothbrush. Head Groomer Gwen McKinnett at Wag N’ Wash Powers suggests a long toothbrush. If your pet is a fighter or likes to nip, than this can keep your fingers safe from the occasional bite. Cats can be especially moody when it comes to brushing, so some distance may be necessary. On the other hand, Groomer Taunya Stites at Wag N’ Wash Woodmen prefers a finger brush. These brushes allow for a little more control while brushing and may not seem as foreign to your pet. Try both and see which one works best for you and your companion animal.
3) Toothpastes and Gels
Some people like pastes, some like gels and some like foams. It all comes down to personal preference. Most teeth cleaning products for pets come in flavors like poultry or peanut butter to encourage your pet to like them, so try a couple and find your companion’s favorite. Both groomers agree that whatever flavor or type you choose, make sure it says enzymatic on it. Even if you aren’t able to get every nook and cranny of your pet’s mouth, enzymatic pastes and gels will make their way around with the help of saliva. The enzymes generate hydrogen peroxide that targets plaque and tartar, and they’re safe to swallow. This makes the whole process easier for both of you.
4) Brushing Pet Teeth
As we mentioned before, start slow if you’re introducing the tooth brush for the first time. Touch your dog or cat gently around the mouth so they can get used to the feeling. From there, practice gently lifting their lips and touching their teeth. This may seem odd, but it’ll help your pet get used to the process. Once your pet is used to this, gently pull their cheek and start brushing in the back. Move towards the front of the mouth and try to swipe each tooth on the way. Brushing doesn’t need to be vigorous, and if your pet starts to struggle you should stop. Try again the next day until they’ve gotten used to it.
5) Other Helpful Products
While brushing pet teeth daily is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup, they’re are additional products that can make the fight easier. Chews like bones and antlers can help scrape your dog’s teeth as they chew. For smaller dogs and cats, try small raw bones like chicken necks. Adding raw food to your pet’s diet can also help. The food helps to create a more acidic environment in the mouth, making it less likely for bacteria to develop. Make sure to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. They can let you know of any dental problems you may be missing.
For more info on pet dental health, make sure to read our The Importance of Pet Dental Health blog post! You can also stop by your local Wag N’ Wash to ask a groomer their tips and tricks for brushing.