Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth at Home can go a long way toward prevention of dental disease. Some pets resist brushing, but most will eventually accept it, especially if you start brushing when your pet is young (10 weeks to 10 months). Brushing your pet’s teeth should minimally be performed three times per week. For even better results, aim for once daily.
Tooth brushing requires training, just like other commands such as “sit”, “down” and “come”. First select a consistent and convenient time for you and your pet. This should be a time when you are both relaxed.
For the first few days, simply hold you pet close as you would when you are petting his/her head and face. Gently stroke the outside of you pet’s lips and cheeks for a minute or two. Get your pet used to your hand surrounding their muzzle.
Choose toothpaste you pet likes. Several brands and flavors are available to help coax your pet into the brushing routine. (Do NOT use human toothpaste, as it may be toxic if ingested).
Place a small amount of the flavored paste on your finger and offer it to your pet for several days as a reward or treat. This will help condition your pet to view brushing as fun and rewarding. Once your pet accepts the toothpaste as a reward, use your index finger on the pet’s gum line and teeth to simulate the brushing motion of a toothbrush. Remember to praise your pet with enthusiasm while giving the daily dose of flavored toothpaste.
In 5-7 days introduce a finger brush or a soft-bristled pet toothbrush. You can give a small amount of toothpaste in the beginning of the session and again at the end to reinforce the learned behavior.
The brushing technique for dogs and cats is similar to that for people. Position the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the tooth. Make small circular strokes at the gum line while rotating the bristles outward to remove debris. Start at the back teeth and work forward around to the other side, gradually increasing the number of teeth brushed each day until you have built up to 30 seconds of brushing per side. 8-10 strokes are sufficient for a given area. The outer surfaces of the teeth are the most critical to clean. Holding the muzzle closed aids in preventing chewing at the brush as well.
Very few pets will tolerate inner surface brushing and it is not recommended to attempt brushing inner surfaces until such time that your pet is consistently allowing and tolerating the outer surface brushing. To brush the inner surfaces of the teeth, try inserting a hard rubber toy in the front of the animal’s mouth to hold it slightly open with your hand wrapped gently around their muzzle while you brush. Do not force inner surface brushing on your pet as it may cause undo stress and reluctance of your pet to accept tooth brushing all together.