Guidelines for Dental Home Care

Did you know that one of the most common clinical conditions occurring in adult dogs and cats is dental disease? Dental disease, or periodontal disease, begins when bacteria in the mouth form plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth.  Without regularly cleaning, plaque turns into tartar, and you see some accumulation of, well, ‘nasty stuff’ on the surface of your pets’ teeth.

Dental disease is preventable! It is never too late to start getting your pet used to regular brushing.  For those pets that have a certain level of dental disease present, a dental cleaning can help give your pet a fresh start – but what about afterwards?  Prevention is key, and brushing your pets’ teeth is one of the many steps you can take to ensure your pet has a happy and healthy mouth.  Here are some helpful tips on how to start a regime of brushing at home with your pet:

  • The first step is to work with your pet’s mouth. With a little patience, your pet will soon accept your attention.  Make it fun for both of you.  Use a lot of love and especially praise to gain their confidence.  Try to have your practice sessions at the same time and place each day so your pet gets into a routine.
  • Start by handling your pet’s muzzle and tickling their lips, and soon you will be able to rub their teeth and gums with your finger. Place a small amount of the toothpaste specifically for animals on your finger and let them lick it off.  Praise them.  Do this for a few days or at least a week before the next step.
  • Next, use a soft toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Have your pet lick it off.  Praise them.  Reward them.  Make this a positive experience. Do this for a few days or at least a week.
  • Now that your pet is comfortable with that place light pressure on their head. Do one stroke with the toothbrush with a little paste on it to each side of the mouth.  Offer them more toothpaste for them to lick off your finger as a reward. J  Praise them.
  • Gradually work your way up until you can brush more and more, and your pet becomes more comfortable with you around their face and head.

Brushing does most of the cleaning.  Brushing at least three times weekly is recommended (daily is much better).  Human toothpaste is to be avoided as it will cause stomach upset if swallowed.  We recommend C.E.T® Enzymatic Toothpaste or Imrex Breathalyser Toothpaste.  They come in a variety of flavours that your pet will love.

Written by Josie Mediati, RVT