We all know that dental home care is important for our pets, but brushing their teeth on a daily basis can seem like such a cumbersome task that we just can’t find the time for but that’s not the case. Taking care of your pets teeth is quite simple all you need is some gauze, a toothbrush, pet friendly toothpaste and 5 minutes. Here are three easy steps to make dental home care seem like a less daunting task, and some tips and tricks to help you complete them:
STEP 1 – Massage gum line with gauze square
First thing in the morning when your pet comes to say hello; wrap a piece of clean, dry gauze around your index finger and gently massage along the gum line. This simple task will remove any plaque that has had a chance to build up overnight before it turns into tartar. I find doing this with your pet facing away from you is easiest.
You do not need to open their mouths, simply put one hand under their chin and with the other, gently slip your gauze covered index finger under their lip and just feel along each tooth at the gum line. Packs of gauze squares can be purchased very inexpensively from your local veterinarian. It does not need to be sterile; a clean baby washcloth or makeup pad can also be used but gauze stands up to the task best. Most pets take to this gentle cleaning very well as it is just mom or dad’s finger.
STEP 2 – Brush teeth with dry toothbrush
In the afternoon or early evening when going for a walk with Clifford or having a cuddle with Precious on the couch. Using a dry toothbrush with nothing on it, gently brush the outside of each tooth. You don’t need to worry about brushing the inside of the teeth.
Start slowly and don’t rush, ease your pet into this by getting them used to the toothbrush. Use the toothbrush to brush their temples or scratch their chin allowing them to become accustomed to it. Once your pet is accepting of the toothbrush, simply slip the brush into their mouths and then return to patting them with it. You want to gradually introduce the brush to them, working up to brushing their teeth.
STEP 3 – Apply toothpaste along the gum line
Last but not least, at night before bed, apply a small amount of your pet’s toothpaste directly to your finger; and, as you did in the morning, gently massage your finger along the gumline of each tooth. The toothpaste will work enzymatically overnight helping reduce plaque buildup. You’re all done for the day, and ready to repeat again tomorrow.
The biggest trick to starting and maintaining a dental home care routine is; keeping your supplies set out in the area where you plan on doing the task. We are all guilty of getting samples from the vet, putting them away in the doggie/kitty drawer where they disappear. Out of sight out of mind.
Figure out which locations are best for you and your pet. Be sure to pair each step with something positive for them. Whether it be a walk after the toothbrush or breakfast after the gauze square.
Try these three simple steps today to help your pet’s oral health. A few minutes of time a day and a good dental home care routine will help preserve a clean, happy and healthy mouth. Morning kisses will be a lot more pleasant too!
Laura McNally, RVT