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How to Brush Your Dog or Cat’s Teeth


Like human dental hygiene, the best way to slow the process and delay dental cleanings is to brush your pet’s teeth. For instance, The American Veterinary Dental College says; “Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective means to maintain oral health between professional dental examinations”.

According to Dr. Morgan Deramus, associate veterinarian at an accredited American Animal Hospital Association in Fort Collins, CO “Training when they’re young and making sure you’re doing it in a way that creates a positive association is the most beneficial for them,” she says. “With dogs, I usually recommend approaching it like any other training—lots of positive reinforcement, going slowly and stopping before that puppy gets aggravated or irritated with the process.”

Deramus suggests starting with special pet toothpaste flavored like beef or poultry. Then:

  1. Put a pea-size amount of toothpaste in your pet’s mouth and immediately reward him with a treat, toy, or interaction.
  2. Increase the amount of time between giving the toothpaste and the reward. Gradually increase the time each day.
  3. Put the toothpaste on a small finger brush or toothbrush and slowly introduce to your pet’s mouth. Reward.
  4. Work up to brushing the teeth, particularly focusing on the outer surface that faces the lip and away from the gum line. Reward.

Also note, it’s important to always brush the inner side of the teeth. This is because enzymes and saliva will take care of that in most cases.

Finally, continue brushing every day for the best results.

When selecting a toothpaste, remember to choose a dog and cat formula. In short, these are flavored and do not contain harsh chemicals that can be found in human toothpaste. Moreover, when swallowed, a human toothpaste can cause problems for pets

Cats can be trained the same way. They will require a smaller toothbrush and a bit more patience.

Dental chew treats can help keep the teeth clean if used every day. Be sure to monitor your pet while chewing. Swallowing large pieces can lead to digestive problems.

Sprays and gels designed for pets can also help with keeping the teeth and gums healthy.

Be sure to take advantage of the Free Pet Planet Nutrition Consultation at a Pet Planet Health location near you. It is a great way to learn about all of the resources available in every pet Planet store.

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Additional Resources

Video on how to brush a pet’s teeth
Video on how to brush a Cat’s teeth

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