A brown poodle holds a toothbrush in its mouth.

Pet dental problems, especially in adult and senior pets, are all too common. It is estimated that 34-40% of pets will have the development of dental problems by the time they are 3 years of age. This is because plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on the surface of the enamel (as you can imagine might if you never brushed your teeth).

To keep your pet’s teeth and oral health top of mind, the team at Bayshore Animal Hospital and Avian Practice is here with some tips for brushing your pet’s teeth. And that is something to smile about!

#1 Gather Your Supplies

The first step in learning how to brush your pet’s pearly whites is to gather all of your supplies. We recommend the following to have on hand:

  • Toothbrush that is the right size and shape for a cat or dog
  • A rubber fingerbrush
  • Pet formulated toothpaste
  • Wipes or a clean cloth
  • Bowl of clean water
  • Small treat to use a reward

#2 The Right Light and Position

Make sure you choose a well lit area of the home and a place for your pet to sit while you brush their teeth. A large bathroom or other closed area is a good choice. For small dogs and cats, you can place them on a counter so you can better see their teeth.

If your pet is aggressive or prone to bite or scratch, we recommend that you ask us for assistance in how to ease them into the process more slowly. Having a person to restrain your pet or distract them with pats is great to make the process safer for all.

#3 Ready, Set, Let the Brushing Begin!

Now that your pet is in the correct position so you can see their teeth, plan on taking a few weeks of easing them in to the feeling of having their gums and teeth handled. To do this,

  1. Begin by getting your pet accustomed to the toothpaste, which is formulated to be tasty. Place a dab on your finger and allow them to lick it off. Then, over time, put some on the rubber toothbrush and let them get used to that.
  2. Begin by lifting your pet’s upper lip and rubbing some of the paste on the front teeth, then the lower teeth by exposing the lower lip. Brush in a back and forth, then circular manner, for a few seconds until they are used to the motion and feeling.
  3. Using more toothpaste, slide your finger on the inside area of the cheek and let them get used to having the sides brushed.
  4. Now you can try your hand with the toothbrush, placing more toothpaste on the brush and angling the brush at 90 degrees, sweeping in a circular motion.
  5. Move to the backs and sides of the teeth on both sides. 
  6. When you are done, clean the brush off with clean water and offer your pet some to drink.
  7. Reward with a small treat or baby carrot or green bean.

Remember that this process should be kept to a minimal amount of time at first, even less than a minute. It’s, of course, best to start this daily routine when your pet is still a puppy or kitten, but any pet will benefit from tooth brushing. We suggest you aim for daily brushing, but at least a few times each week.

Dental chews can help but do not do enough of an effective job to dispel plaque and tartar as brushing and dental examinations do.

Trouble with Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth?

We can always assist you in maintaining the health of your pet in any way. If you have problems learning the ropes with brushing your pet’s teeth, please contact us