Concord Animal Hospital’s 5-step guide and video to brushing your dog or cat’s teeth
February is pet oral health month, so we're bringing back a video we made showing how you (yes, you!) can brush your pet's teeth! Oral health is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Pets can get plaque, tartar, gingivitis and other periodontal diseases too.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, “diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease.”
At Concord Animal Hospital, we frequently hear from pet parents that they have never brushed their pet’s teeth because they don’t know how.
We’re here to help! To get started, follow five simple steps and watch our instructional video.
STEP 1: Make a plan
Identify a place in the house or yard where your dog or cat will feel calm and relaxed. Pick a time of day that you can set aside 5-10 minutes on a regular basis. Dr. McCullough, a veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital (CAH), recommends you brush your pet’s teeth every day, though every other day is the minimum to keep plaque from becoming tartar.
STEP 2: Get your ducks (and dogs and cats) in a row
What you’ll need:
Some pets take to tooth brushing immediately. Others, especially cats (surprise!), may need more time to ease into full tooth brushing. Work your way up to brushing over a week or two and keep all sessions short – 1-2 minutes will suffice.
Dr. McCullough suggests owners get their pets comfortable by…
STEP 5: Start brushing those choppers: Gently place a toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your pet’s teeth and brush along the gum line in a circular motion.
You can either tuck the toothbrush into their mouth or gently push their lips back so the teeth are visible. You don’t have to worry about the inside of the mouth, the tongue takes good care of removing plaque from the inside-facing sides of the teeth, so focus on the outside.
End the session with a reward – a favorite treat or a lot of attention.
In the beginning a little bit of bleeding may occur. If the bleeding is heavy, stop and try to brush again more gently in a day or two.
WHEN TO TALK TO YOUR VET
If the bleeding continues after gently brushing three times, call us at 978-369-3503 to make an appointment to check your pet’s teeth as this may be a sign of dental disease.
Dr. McCullough also recommends talking to your vet about the right frequency of dental cleanings for your pet and asking for help if your pet isn’t taking to tooth brushing. “Different brushing techniques or drinking water additives might be great options for you and your pet.”
VET TIP: In addition to brushing teeth regularly, encouraging pets to chew rubber toys or large rawhides is also great for teeth. "The trick with any dental treat or chew toy is to get them chewing for a while," says Dr. McCullough. "If they swallow them in two bites then we're not getting the teeth clean. Toys that can be stuffed with treats are a good way to get dogs to chew for longer. Avoid hard bones, antlers and hard plastics that can fracture teeth."
HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR PET’S ORAL HEALTH? Make an appointment with your veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital at 978-369-3503.
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