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Here’s How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth and Keep All Your Fingers!
Most likely, the last time you visited your vet, he or she suggested that you brush your pet’s teeth. If you’re like most pet parents, your first thought was, “Yeah, right!”
But as crazy as it may seem, it really is possible to brush those pearly whites. And it’s important, too! Gum disease and tooth decay can lead to a whole passel of problems for your furry friend, including:
• Pain, swelling and bad breath
• Tooth loss
• Sinus infections
• Blood infections
• Diabetes
• Heart disease
By keeping your pet’s chompers in tip-top shape, you may be able to avoid many of these problems, save money on vet visits, and reduce the number of professional cleanings under anesthesia.
Sounds great, right? But how can you convince your pet to go along with the process and keep all your fingers? We’re glad you asked!
Make it fun!
If you go about it the right way, your pet will come to think of the experience as a treat. Keep sessions short and try not to restrain your pet too tightly. Offer lots of praise, petting and rewards.
Pick the right tools.
Your toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t going to work for your pet. Instead, opt for a toothbrush that’s designed especially for dogs and cats. There are several styles, including a straight or angled brush; a finger brush that fits onto the end of your finger; and even an electric one with vibrating bristles.
Pet toothpaste is made to be safe to swallow and comes in “yummy” flavors like tuna, poultry, malt, and beef. Look for brands that contain enzymes to help control plaque. (Oh, and if guests are staying with you, don’t forget to warn them that your pets have their own toothbrushes and toothpaste!)
Start slow.
Don’t be in too big of a rush to tackle the tarter. All you have to do at first is just handle your pet’s mouth for several minutes a day. This will help get them used to the sensation of having their mouth touched.
Tickle those teeth.
Okay, don’t actually tickle their teeth. But once your dog or cat is accustomed to having you play with its mouth, start rubbing the teeth with your fingers. Next, add some pet toothpaste, which they should find tasty. If necessary, you can keep the mouth closed by gently placing your hand around your pet’s muzzle (don’t squeeze!).
Start brushing.
As soon as your pet seems to be okay the sensation of having its teeth rubbed, you can try using the toothbrush. Lift the cheek on one side of the mouth and brush the outside surface of the teeth just as you would brush your own. The brush movement should be in a circular pattern with ten short motions that cover three to four teeth at a time. Keep these first sessions very short, and stop if your pet seems anxious.
Work your way up.
Increase the number of teeth brushed each time until your pet accepts the routine willingly. It should only take 30 seconds of brushing on each side of your pet’s mouth. That’s a small amount of time for such a huge investment in your pet’s health and well-being.
Your pet still needs to have its teeth cleaned professionally, just like you do, but proper brushing will greatly reduce the number of times this has to be done. Even better, brushing every day can help your dog or cat have sweeter breath, a stunning smile, and a longer life!