Pro Tips from a Vet: Toothbrushing

It’s time for a ProTip and this time we’re talking about tooth brushing! It's the best way that you can slow down bacterial plaque build up on your pet’s teeth and help to prevent periodontal disease. Most dogs and some cats are amenable to tooth brushing if you follow these tips:

  1. Use a finger brush kit (not a tooth brush) and tooth paste that is pet specific, not for humans.

  2. Focus on the outside of the teeth, near the gums. You don’t really need to worry about the inside (the part of the tooth that is facing the tongue).

  3. Create a routine - this is for you and your pet. For you, choose the same 2 days every week or put it on the calendar. For your pet, make sure to include positive reinforcement in the routine. For example, treats before and after.

  4. Don’t make a big deal about it - if you need to, practice some self calming and breathing techniques before you approach your pet. If you are anxious or make a big deal, so will they!

  5. Be safe - if your dog or cat is NOT receptive, in a way that indicates you could get bitten, do not proceed. This is especially important for cat owners as cat’s have bacteria that can cause MAJOR infections if they bite you (dog bites are awful too, but they are less likely to cause major infection). If your pet falls into this category, please talk to your vet about the best options for preventive dental care. And, FEED GOOD FOOD. I recommend talking to an integrative vet about this one * (you can schedule a 1 on 1 consult with me via the website!)

Tooth brushing can really help to reduce the number of times your pet needs an anesthetic dental. So, as long as they don’t freak out about it, it’s worth it for your budget and their health to make it part of your at-home routine. — Dr. Nell

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