Cleaning your pet’s teeth
Dana Marcott, CVT
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
You’ve just finished “Fluffy’s” wellness visit and Fluffy passed with flying colors, well almost. What was it that the doctor said about Fluffy’s teeth – something about brushing them?
As veterinary medicine advances, it is our job to continue to educate owners on things they can do at home to improve the lives of their pets. One of the easiest things an owner can do is brush their pet’s teeth, but it can be a daunting task. Most pets do not willingly allow their teeth to be brushed; however, it is something that can be taught.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully make the process easier for both you and your fluffy friend: First, this is not an overnight process. It may take several weeks for your pet to adjust to the toothbrush. Start off slowly, focusing only on the front teeth. In small dogs and cats, you may have to start with just your finger or a toothbrush that slips over your finger. Start by using something other than toothpaste. It is the brushing action that you want to focus on, so try using something your pet likes. This can be plain water, tuna water, canned food, and even peanut butter.
Once your pet has adjusted to the toothbrush being in her mouth, slowly work to adding more and more teeth getting brushed. It’s usually best to start with the front teeth and work your way down the sides of their mouth to the back teeth. There is no rush. Take a couple of teeth a week and go from there.
Once your pet has accepted the toothbrush, you can then switch to veterinary toothpaste. It is important not to use human toothpaste because of the additional fluoride added to our toothpaste. Our fluffy companions do not need the extra fluoride, and in some pets, it can cause vomiting.
Now there are some pets, no matter how hard we try and slow we go, that just will not allow their teeth to be brushed. For these pets, we recommend talking to your veterinarian about some of the other unique dental products that are available. There are veterinary-approved dental diets and chews that are designed to help reduce plaque buildup. Some owners have found success in using special dental wipes in place of brushing the teeth. Water additives and gels have also been used successfully.
With everything we have to do in a day, it’s easy to put off our pet’s dental health. Hopefully, with a little patience and a few tips, brushing your pet’s teeth can take just a minute or two of your day. The benefit to Fluffy’s health is well worth the investment.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.