1. Introduce brushing by first massaging your pet’s muzzle with your fingers. When there is no resistance to having the face rubbed, lift your pet’s lips and rub the teeth. Graduate to using pet toothpaste on your finger, then introduce toothpaste on a toothbrush or gauze square. Use lots of treats and praise for good behavior.
2. Plaque and tartar forms mainly on the outer surfaces of the teeth, so concentrate on the outer surfaces most. Start on the back teeth first, move toward the front teeth, and lastly attempt the inside surfaces only if your pet tolerates it. All outer surfaces should be brushed up and down approximately 5 to 10 times. The whole process should take less than 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Never use human toothpaste – pets should not swallow fluoride. We carry pet toothpaste at the hospital.
4. Brush as often as possible; daily is ideal but brushing even a few times a week can make a difference.
5. Hill’s Science Diet makes a prescription dental food for cats and dogs called T/D. Please let us know if you would like to try T/D (either as the primary food or for use as treats). Always transition to a new food slowly (over 3 to 7 days).
6. Dental treats can help slow tartar re-accumulation. Please remember that treats can add significant calories to your pet’s diet and you may need to reduce meal portions.
7. Select appropriate chew toys. Hard objects (such as soup/marrow bones, deer antlers, or cow hoofs) often cause tooth fractures. Soft toys may be ripped into pieces and ingested, potentially causing a GI blockage. Rubber toys (such as Kongs) provide a good chewing consistency. These can be filled with treats, peanut butter, or cheese to encourage interest.
8. Remember – home dental care should be a safe, pleasant, and rewarding experience for you and for your pet! Some pets will not tolerate tooth brushing while others enjoy it.