Dr. Jan E Hale demonstrates how to take care of your pets teeth at home.
Dental care is an important part of good health and longevity for your pets. Dental disease is the most common problem seen in our pet population today. More than 85% of all dogs and cats presented to veterinarians are affected by dental disease.
Periodontal disease is what causes bad breath and eventual tooth loss.
It is recommended that your pets receive daily dental home care just like the rest of your family. It is best to begin home care at an early age (8-12 weeks) during puppy and kitten hood, but it is never too late to start.
Visible tartar should be removed ultrasonically in a process known as scaling and polishing, just like when people go to the dentist. Removal of visible tartar first will make your home care efforts easier and more effective.
• Wash cloth or toothbrush
• Pet Toothpaste (pets will swallow a lot of toothpaste so it needs to be pet formulated and not people paste.
Week 1— Slowly Acquaint Your Pet With Mouth Care.
Using your hand, gently open the pet’s mouth and run your finger around his or her lips, lifting the lips, etc. In the beginning do this only for 30 seconds and then gradually progress to a couple of minutes by the end of the week. This a good time to reward your pet with lots of praise and small treat at the end of the sessions. Treat-me is an excellent treat.
Week 2 —- Introducing the Toothbrush or Gauze or Wash Cloth (without toothpaste)
This week, use either a wet washcloth or gauze wrapped around your index finger or wet toothbrush on the teeth. Lift the lips. Massage only the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do this for 30 seconds on day one, progressing up to three minutes by the end of the week.
Week 3—-Add Toothpaste, Extend Brushing Time.
This week use your dental cleaning tool (washcloth or toothbrush) and now add a small amount of toothpaste. Brush the outer surfaces only of the upper and lower teeth in a back and forth motion.
Here are a few pointers:
• Do not rush the process or else the pet my become resistant.
• Always treat at the end of each session, making it enjoyable, never scold, praise highly.
• If your pet shows any indication of aggression (growling, bearing teeth, biting, scratching, etc.) stop the process and seek professional advice from your veterinarian or pet trainer.
• Never use human toothpaste as it can cause the pet to vomit.
• Cleaning at home can reduce the frequency of professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia.
• Dental chews and a balanced raw diet with gristle that pets can chew will help create a healthy mouth but will not completely replace the need for brushing daily? Just like you, their teeth need brushing every day. (or at least several times per week, but daily is the best)
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Have fun with this and enjoy keeping your pet happy and healthy.
Jan E Hale, DVM