We know the idea of brushing your pet’s teeth can be daunting—even we struggle sometimes! That’s why we decided to make you a step-by-step guide WITH a video to show you how to work with your pet to make brushing easier.
First things first!
Before you start brushing
The goal here is to create a positive association with toothbrushing. Some pets may not like the idea of you touching their head, so keep that in mind as you work up to being able to brush their teeth thoroughly. We suggest that you give your pet one week or more to become acquainted with each step.
Here is what you will need:
- A toothbrush – There are a few different styles of toothbrushes recommended for your pet. The style depends on whether your pet is a dog (small or large) or a cat. You can view the options here. You can also use an infant toothbrush or soft toothbrush.
- Toothpaste – Never use human toothpaste. Many human kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride which can be poisonous to pets. Pet-friendly toothpaste types are designed with your pet in mind, as it can be swallowed and come in a variety of pet approved flavors.
- Special treats or toys – You’ll want to provide a high-value (highly desired) reward for your pet, of their choice, to encourage them during this training process.
- Patience – You and your pet are learning a new routine together!
Let’s start brushing!
Step 1: Introduction
Allow your pet to get acquainted with oral care by slowly introducing the toothbrush and toothpaste.
Introduction to the toothbrush should start with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Allow your pet to lick the toothpaste off. Follow-up should include praise and your pet’s favorite treats or toys!
Step 2: Handling Head and Mouth
If your pet is used to you handling their mouth, feel free to skip to step 3.
To get your pet used to you handling their head and mouth, place your hand on their head to where you can barely feel their hair touching your hand. Hold your hand there while your pet licks the toothpaste from the toothbrush. Then reward them with a special treat!
Gradually increase the pressure on their head each day —never force your pet’s head on the toothbrush. This will take time, so do not rush this!
Eventually, your goal will be to drop your fingers and be able to pull back the lips to expose their teeth gently.
Step 3: Toothbrush Meets Teeth
Gently apply the toothbrush with toothpaste to your pet’s teeth and then follow with a special treat. If your pet is resistant to this, you may want to start with simply using your finger to apply toothpaste to your pet’s teeth and then later introduce the toothbrush. Over time you’ll be able to increase the number of teeth brushed, including the gums.
Once you can brush your pet’s teeth thoroughly, work up to brushing your pet’s teeth and gums in a circular motion to maximize your efforts.
Keep In Mind
- We know it can be cumbersome, but we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth daily. Like humans, plaque can accumulate within a matter of hours on your pet’s teeth.
- Regular teeth brushing your pet’s teeth paired with regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian can help to improve your pet’s overall health. This can help your pet stay healthy and may save you money by prolonging the need for or tooth extractions.
- When brushing your pet’s teeth, this is an excellent time to exam your pet’s teeth. Do you notice any red or swollen gums, discolored or broken teeth, or bad breath?
- If you notice these or any other abnormalities, Please schedule an appointment for an exam.
If your pet does not tolerate brushing-don’t fret! There are other options. Although brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective way to practice good dental hygiene, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) provides a list of dental products that are pet-friendly for both cats and dogs. We recommend that you check it out before purchasing other pet dental products.
Talk with your veterinarian about which products would be the best fit for your pet.
If you have any questions or need help brushing your pet’s teeth, we are to assist! Need a demonstration on how to brush your pet’s teeth in person? Our highly dedicated team can show you how at your next visit. Contact us today!