How Do I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

There is nothing more endearing than a gorgeous doggie smile.

Besides, it’s really cute when your pooch nuzzles closer and tries to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. But this love and affection can quickly fast track into trying to distance yourself when doggie breath smells like their last meal was take-out from the garbage can.

And the same can be said when your cat’s affection offers a hint of tuna breath.

However, an offensive smell can also be a first sign of dental hygiene issues, which, if left unattended, can develop into serious tooth decay and gum disease. And further, a build up of bacteria in the mouth means that the germs are ultimately ingested and can potentially cause some serious medical issues, too.

Having painted the worst-case scenario picture, here is the good news. February is pet dental month, when many veterinary offices around the country offer discounts on professional teeth-cleaning services. And it’s certainly worth taking advantage of this money-saving opportunity.

I have been very lucky. For the past two years, I have booked dental appointments for my cats, Fudge and Ziggy and, after inspecting their mouths, the vet declared that they didn’t need teeth cleaning. I partly attribute this to the fact that they eat a primarily dry diet and the action of eating kibble helps to prevent a tartar build up on the teeth.

Apart from an annual professional cleaning, dental hygiene should be included in your pet’s regular grooming routine. Some pet parents with compliant pets are able to brush nightly. But at the very least, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth once a week.

The same goes for felines. Yes, I know, easier said than done …

Fortunately, the pet industry is very cognizant of the problem and there is a wonderful selection of different-sized toothbrushes along with a variety of flavored toothpastes to help make the job much easier. SENTRY Petrodex toothbrush kits are available for dogs and cats as well as a range of finger brushes, which some pet parents find easier to maneuver than an actual brush.

Luckily, there are other alternatives, too, such as dental gels that can be applied to a pet’s gums and then they use “nature’s toothbrush” namely their tongue, to swirl it around the mouth.

There are also water additives that can be simply added to the bowl. I learned recently that such additives can also be used in a pet drinking fountain if you first remove any charcoal filters from the fountain’s system.

For cats that simply refuse to entertain the idea of a dental regime, here is a tip I learned from a veterinary orthodontist. He suggested taking a Q-tip and dipping it in tuna juice and rubbing it along the tooth/gum line. The very action of the Q-tip on the teeth provides a cleaning effect. And if you can’t do the entire mouth, do what you can, there is always tomorrow.

It’s a really good idea to start a dental routine when you pet is still very young. Start by playing with your pet’s mouth so that they can get used to you lifting the jowls to inspect the teeth. If they are used to such hands-on attention, they are going to be more compliant when you come with a toothbrush in hand.

You can always end a teeth-cleaning session with a functional dental treat such as Pit’r Pat breath treats for cats, dental care chews and dental twists for cats.

Your pet will look forward to the reward for good behavior and you will enjoy their affectionate kisses.

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