Pet Dental Health: Teeth Cleaning Guidelines – it’s easy!

DachshundToothbrushThe first step to your pet’s dental health is to work with your pet’s mouth. With patience they will soon accept your attention. Make it fun. Use a lot of love and especially praise to gain their confidence. Go slowly.

Try to have your practice sessions at the same time each day so your pet gets into a routine. Late in the evening often works well, as everyone involved is generally in a quiet mood then. If your pet is highly motivated by food, try just before dinner with the meal acting as a reward for co-operating.

Handle the muzzle and tickle the lips and soon you will be able to rub the teeth and gums with your finger. Put a few drops of water, flavoured with cheese or chicken for dogs and tuna juice for cats, in the mouth daily. They will soon look forward to this treat.

Next, use a washcloth or piece of pantyhose, wrapped around the end of your finger and flavoured as above, to gently rub the teeth.

Finally, use a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth. There are veterinary brushes available and many human brushes are well suited to animal use as well. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and brush back and forth or from gum to tip. Brushing the tongue side of the teeth is less critical. Use the flavoured water. Make it a game.

There is an ever growing selection of veterinary tooth washes, pastes and gels. Ask us for advice on the best one suited to your situation. These products may increase the effectiveness of your home-care program but remember, it’s the brushing which does most of the cleaning.

Brushing should be done daily for best results. Less than 4 times a week will have little if any effect.

Do not use human tooth paste, it will cause stomach upset if swallowed. Baking soda, with its very high sodium content can be dangerous to older patients. Hydrogen peroxide can be too harsh for the gums and must not be swallowed. There are specially formulated pet enzymatic toothpastes.
It helps to give mildly abrasive foods and toys. Avoid natural bones, antlers, dried cow hooves, hard nylon toys and large rawhide toys as these are hard enough to fracture teeth. If you would not want me to hit you in the knee-cap with it, don’t let your dog chew on it!

By following a consistent program of home-care, you will greatly improve your pet’s dental health. This will mean fewer professional cleanings, less tooth loss and a happier, healthier pet. However, please remember that there is no substitute for professional veterinary care. We must work as a team to ensure a long and happy life for your pet.

To watch a video on how to brush your pet’s teeth see here

If you don’t feel like you can brush your pet’s teeth look for products recommended by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) such as Hills T/D biscuits (come in and ask for your free sample with your FREE dental check) and Greenies.