If you ever saw a pet toothbrush at the vet or pet shop, you might have thought: “Are you serious? Is this really necessary?!” If you think about it, it’s not that crazy. After all, we brush our own teeth twice a day. The myth that a dog’s or cat’s mouth is cleaner or even self-cleaning is just that, a myth. Yes, pets are lucky in that they’re not as prone to cavities as we are, but even the best teeth need some dental care to prevent gum bleeding, plaque and bad breath. Also: no dental care can often lead to more serious issues such as gum disease, heart, kidney and liver diseases and these can be fatal. Therefore, taking care of your pet’s dental health can save you some money at the vet.
Here are some tips on how to establish an easy and efficient dental care routine:
With what do I clean my pet’s teeth?
Use a moistened pet toothbrush with soft bristles. If you do not have a specially designed pet toothbrush, you can also use a child’s toothbrush. We recommend to use toothpaste – for pets. Often tailored to the likes of our furry ones with flavors like poultry or malt it is your best option. Just be careful to never use human toothpaste, baking soda or salt. While safe for you, these cleaning agents can be harmful to your pet if swallowed.
How often do I have to clean them?
Ideally you want to brush your dog’s/cat’s teeth once a day. But if you can only manage to brush it 2 to 3 times a week, still very good. It will definitely help to reduce tartar and gingivitis from developing.
Even with healthy teeth, just like you, your dog should have his teeth checked by a professional every six to twelve months. Unless your companion’s teeth are perfect, a professional cleaning by the vet is recommended every 1-2 years.
At what age do I start?
Even though your pet’s teeth are usually perfect when they’re young, you will make things easier for yourself by starting the routine early on so that they get used to it. Grown dogs and cats can learn to become comfortable with teeth cleaning, but it might take a while.
How do I clean the teeth?
- Make sure to pick a time in the day your furry one is tired and calm, choose a comfortable place and give them a small sample of the toothpaste beforehand to accustom them to the new flavor.
- Lift the lip to expose the outside surfaces of your cat’s gums and teeth and then brush with gentle motions to clean the teeth and gums, as you would your own.It’s okay if you just reach the outside teeth, as most pets will not allow you to brush the inside surface of the teeth.Be sure to reach the back upper molars and canines, as these teeth tend to quickly build up tartar.
- Keep the first sessions short and make sure to reward your pet generously after.
My pet hates it, what do I do?
Try to get them used to the new routine and take baby steps. Show them the toothbrush and give them a treat to build a positive association. Lift their lip for a few seconds, reward. Touch their teeth softly and slowly with the brush, reward. You get the idea.
If nothing helps, don’t be upset. You can go for the professional dental vet cleaning once or twice a year. Just make sure to do regular check-ups. You can also try the dental chews and rubber toys.
What else promotes dental hygiene for pets?
For dogs: There is a variety of dental chews and natural bones as well as many synthetic bones and chew toys that are specially designed to strengthen your dog’s gums and teeth.
For cats: Cat grass as well as Matabi chewing sticks are great ways for supporting your cat to keep her teeth and gums clean and healthy.
When to see a vet?
If your pet develops any of these symptoms, you should book an appointment with your veterinarian:
- Change in eating or dog chewing habits
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Misaligned or missing teeth
- Discolored, broken, missing or crooked teeth
- Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
- Yellowish-brown tartar crust along the gum line
- Bumps or growths within the mouth
What is your experience with pet dental care? Please let us know in the comment section!