Ask a Vet: How to brush your pet's teeth at home

Keeping your pet's teeth clean is essential for their overall health and well-being.

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Feb 21, 2024

Just like humans, pets can suffer from dental problems such as plaque buildup, tartar accumulation, and gum disease if their teeth are not properly cared for. Regular brushing is one of the most effective ways to prevent these issues.

Here are some tips for brushing your pet's teeth at home:

Start Early

Introduce your pet to tooth brushing when they are young, if possible. This helps them become accustomed to the process and makes it easier to establish a routine as they grow older.

Choose the Right Tools

Use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Pet toothbrushes come in different sizes and shapes, so select one that is appropriate for your pet's size and mouth shape. Pet toothpaste is formulated to be safe for animals and comes in flavors that appeal to them, such as poultry or beef.

Familiarize Your Pet

Before you begin brushing, allow your pet to sniff and investigate the toothbrush and toothpaste. This helps them become more comfortable with the process.

You can also try rubbing a small amount of toothpaste on their gums to let them get used to the taste.

Choose a Quiet Time

Pick a quiet time when your pet is relaxed and calm for tooth brushing. Avoid trying to brush their teeth immediately after a meal or when they are feeling anxious or energetic.

Gradually Introduce Brushing

Start by gently massaging your pet's gums with your finger for a few seconds each day. Once they are comfortable with this, introduce the toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste.

Using one hand, gently lift your pet's lips to expose their teeth and gums. Take a moment to inspect their mouth for any signs of dental problems such as redness, swelling, or tartar buildup.

Focus on the outside surfaces of their teeth, using gentle, circular motions.

Gradually Increase Duration

Initially, aim to brush your pet's teeth for 30 seconds to a minute. As your pet becomes more accustomed to the process, gradually increase the duration of brushing sessions to two to three minutes.

Be Patient and Persistent

Some pets may resist tooth brushing at first, but with patience and persistence, most can learn to tolerate it.

Tip: Offer plenty of praise and rewards during and after brushing to make the experience more positive for your pet.

Practice Regularly

Make tooth brushing a part of your pet's daily routine. Aim to brush their teeth at least two to three times a week, if not daily, to maintain good oral hygiene.

Monitor for Signs of Dental Problems

Keep an eye out for signs of dental problems, such as bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, or changes in eating habits. If you notice any issues, consult your Parker & Ace veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment.

By following these tips and incorporating regular tooth brushing into your pet's routine, you can help keep their teeth clean and healthy, ensuring a happier and healthier life for your furry friend.