Dogs brushing a dogs teeth

Published on September 14th, 2012 | by Debbie Martin


Dental Hygiene for your Pets, How to Brush Their Teeth

Providing your pets with an adequate dental hygiene program is just as important as it would be to provide this for your children or yourself. Dental care is an often overlooked but very important part of your pet’s overall health, we often hear people joking about bad breath, particularly with dogs, but in reality it is no laughing matter. Dental disease affects about 70% of all pets over the age of three and just as it can in humans it can have serious consequences for dogs and cats.

Just like humans, our cats and dogs have baby teeth (deciduous teeth) and just like our babies theirs fall out too. Cats start with 26 and dogs 28 and by six months of age these are replaced with their permanent teeth 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat. You may not actually see any of these baby teeth in your pets as they tend to go when they are chewing on toys or grooming their fur.

When to Start

It is recommended that you start to brush your pets teeth as early as you can, around 8 to 12 weeks old is usually a good starting point. Get into the routine of doing this with your pet on a daily basis just as you would yourself, this will enable your pet to become familiar with the process and they will get used to it being part of their daily life. There are a couple of really important things to be aware of when you start a dental care program for your pets: a)don’t get bitten and b) try not to hurt your pet’s mouth in the brushing process, take it slowly and start with a small amount of toothpaste. Allow your pets to smell and taste the toothpaste and continually praise and encourage them throughout the process.

It is a good idea to pick a time when your pets are reasonably calm and quiet such as late in the evening, be patient with your pets and try to make the experience a fun one.

Cleaning Teeth for Dogs

One important thing to remember when cleaning your dog’s teeth is that you must use toothpaste recommended for dogs, DO NOT use human toothpaste. Dogs unlike humans don’t spit and as such they are highly likely to swallow whatever you are using to clean their teeth. Human toothpaste is not edible and not designed to be swallowed, so make sure you use proper doggie toothpaste, there are many to choose from and they are generally flavoured to appeal to your pets.

Gather everything together before you start as you don’t want to be getting up and down all the time, there are many good dental health kits for pets on the market these days which generally cover everything you need. Find a position for both you and your dog that allows you to access their mouth and teeth easily. Gently raise the upper lip on one side of the dogs mouth and then start to brush the teeth in a gentle circular motion, as you are doing this pay particular attention to the gum line as this is an area were many problems can start. Keep cleaning around the mouth until you have brushed each and every tooth, paying particular attention to the rear teeth as this can be another problem area.

You can help prevent periodontal disease by doing this routine at least 3 times a week, but every day is better. You can also assist by feeding your dog dry food such as crunchy kibble as this is much better for your dog’s teeth than soft food. There are also products now such as Logic Orozyme Chews that have been designed specifically to assist with enhancing the mouths natural defence systems in order to attack bacteria in the pet’s mouth.

Cleaning Teeth for Cats

The basic procedures for cleaning your cat’s teeth are pretty much the same as they are for a dog; obviously cats have much smaller mouths than most dogs so make sure that you get a kit that is designed for a cat. It can sometimes be easier to start with just the canine teeth (the large ones at the front of the mouth) and then slowly progress to more as your pet gets into the routine of having this done.

On a final note, even if you keep up this care as a regular activity and your pet has healthy teeth they still need to visit the vet on a regular basis, just as you visit the dentists to have your teeth checked, we would recommend that this is done at least every six months. Remember, if you keep your pet’s mouth clean and free from any problems you’ll both be smiling and not just for Pet Smile Month.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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