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How to Become a Pet Dental Dervish!

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What sort of state would your teeth be in if you didn’t brush them or have them checked at the dentist?

The same applies to our pets! However, pet dental care often gets forgotten, or its importance is underestimated. Perhaps this is why a shocking 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from dental problems by the age of three.

Dental problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis can seriously affect your pet’s health causing infections and even major organ problems if left untreated. Our pets can’t ask for help so they suffer in silence for a long time before we pick up on the symptoms of dental problems.

The very best way to help your pet maintain good dental health is to brush their teeth. We’ll go into more detail on this later but, if you find yourself unable to brush your pet’s teeth, don’t despair!

There are plenty of ways to help your pet have good dental hygiene:

  1. Regular dental checks at the vets to assess the state of your pet’s teeth.
  2. A specially-formulated diet or treats to help prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar.
  3. Chew toys. These help make teeth strong, and can also assist in flossing your pet’s teeth and scraping away soft tartar.
  4. Scaling and polishing procedures at the vets to physically remove the build-up of tartar which, if done early enough, can reverse periodontal disease.

Brushing your pet’s teeth:

As with introducing anything new to your pet, this is best done gradually and methodically. Imagine how your pet will react if you suddenly go straight in and stick a toothbrush in their mouth!

You’ll need a specially-designed toothbrush and toothpaste for this, which should both be available from your vets or a good pet shop. Both normal brushes and finger brushes are available, although we can entirely understand if you’d rather not stick your whole finger near a mouth full of sharp teeth!

NEVER use human toothpaste on your pet as the fluoride it contains is toxic to them. Instead, our lucky pets can have meat or fish-flavoured toothpaste. Pet toothpaste tends not to foam either, making the brushing process easier and a bit less messy!

Start off by applying a little bit of the pet toothpaste to the end of your finger and showing it to your pet. Pet toothpaste is designed to be tasty and palatable to your pet so they should be interested and lick it off your finger (or stick their nose straight in it as one of my cats did!).

Next apply some of the toothpaste to the actual toothbrush and do the same thing, letting them taste it and examine the toothbrush.

Next, start to get your pet used to the idea of a brushing motion: use your finger or a clean cotton swab to gently massage their teeth and gums along the outside.

Once they’re happy with this, proceed to doing the same thing but using some of the toothpaste.

Finally, you can introduce the toothbrush, complete with toothpaste! Use it in a gentle circular motion, at a 45 degree angle (parallel to the gums). Remember to brush where the gum attaches to the teeth, as well as the teeth themselves.

Hey presto, you’re now a pet tooth-brushing expert!

View the video below for a demonstration:

This timeline is variable– depending on your pet, it could be days or even a few weeks to get them used to tooth-brushing. Every pet is different and it is essential that they are made to feel comfortable with what should be a life-long activity.

If you’re confused about the best products for good dental health, want some advice on your tooth-brushing technique or just want some help, please remember that our knowledgeable and experienced staff are here to help! Give your local Medivet a call or drop in to see us.

Happy brushing! 




Posted May 7, 2015 in Pet Care Advice

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