Some Tips on Brushing your Pet’s Teeth

When should you start brushing?

  • It is recommended that owners start brushing teeth after their pet is over the age of 6 months, which is typically when all of the adult teeth are in.
  • When your pet is comfortable having their teeth brushed, they should ideally be brushed once or twice a day, every day.

What toothpaste and toothbrush should you be using?

  • There are many different types of toothpaste that you can get at a Veterinary hospital. They come in different flavors and contain enzymes that will help break down the tartar on your pet’s teeth. These toothpastes are also very safe for your pet, unlike human toothpastes which contain fluoride and should not be ingested by your pet.
  • As for toothbrushes, there are specific ones made for pets. The bristles are much softer and are angled for your pet’s mouth. There are different kinds; finger toothbrushes would be good for a cat or a small dog (under 30lbs). For bigger dogs, it is best to use a toothbrush with a long handle that can give you a better reach.

How do you get your pet comfortable with brushing their teeth?

  • The first step is to get your cat or dog used to the toothpaste and toothbrush. You can slowly introduce this to them by allowing them to get use to the toothpaste. Allow them to have a small amount each day for a few days or a week. There are many different flavors, so don’t worry if they aren’t fond of a certain kind. Play with their mouth, handling the muzzle as well as rubbing your finger alongside their gums. Make it a game and a positive experience. This may take several weeks for them to get used to.
  • Once they are used to the toothpaste and the inside of their mouth being touched, you can introduce a tooth brush.
  • Brush at a 45o degree angle to the tooth and brush back and forth or from gum to tip.
  • Brushing the teeth that face the tongue is less critical.
  • Take your time and work on increasing the amount of brushing time, up until about 1 minute. Make sure to give lots of love and praise to gain their confidence.
  • It also helps to have these practice sessions at relatively the same time each day to get your cat or dog into a routine.
  • If your pet is food motivated, it may help to brush right before feeding them a meal. This will act as a reward for co-operating.
  • Eventually tooth brushing will become easier and your pet may enjoy it!