How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

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By Dr. Fiona, for Pets Best pet health insurance for dogs and cats.

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and today I’m going to show you how to brush your dog or cat’s teeth. This is Dina, Dina’s going to help us demonstrate how to brush your dog’s teeth. She is a five-year-old mixed breed that was rescued from the shelter, and is owned by a technician of mine. So a couple tricks and tips for teeth brushing, tends to be one of the things that dogs, and especially cats, hate, so try to go slow, make it fun, especially starting in puppies is a great idea because it gets them used to the idea of you being in the mouth.

You need to use a dog or a cat’s special toothpaste. Our toothpaste is poisonous to them, so you’re going to want to use something that’s flavored and meant for dogs or cats. You don’t necessarily need a special toothbrush, you can really just use a human toothbrush or a kid’s toothbrush, this one’s nice because it’s got two sides and it’s got a long handle that’s great for dogs with a deeper, longer snout. I actually love the finger brushes, these are great for cats, and they’re actually great for dogs too, it gives you a lot of control over the surface of the tooth, and a lot of control over where you’re aiming your brushing.

So I’m actually going to use the finger brush with Dina. Sometimes just allowing them to sort of taste the toothpaste, getting used to it, getting used to you being in the mouth, again you want to take it slow, try to make it fun. The goal of teethbrushing is to remove plaque, and plaque is the precursor to tartar. Tartar’s that hard stuff that won’t come off with brushing, whereas plaque is the sticky stuff that should. So you want to start at the front, you really want to get all the way to the back as well, and just a gentle back and forth motion, using that toothpaste, let her kind of taste it.

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Does it taste funny?

And then going all the way back, across those front ones.

Good girl, Dina.

You can see how I have a lot more control with the finger brush.

Good girl.

And of course you want to get both sides, just gently rubbing across.

How often should you be brushing your dog’s teeth? Ideally you’d do it every day, although I think it’s a special dog and a special dog owner that can do it that frequently. Anything is better than nothing, even if it’s once a week, couple times a month, you’re going to be doing some benefit in your dog’s mouth. For cats, it’s pretty similar, definitely you’re going to use more of a finger brush, starting with kittens is a great idea. There’s a lot of cats that won’t tolerate brushing, in which case, it’s not worth the fight. There are other dental products and other ways that you can try to keep your cat, or a dog that doesn’t like to have their teeth brushed, ways that you can keep their mouth healthy.

For more information on dental disease, check out this video by Dr. Fiona on how to recognize dental disease.


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