2.5 min read

Brushing is a good habit to form as part of pet dental care. It’s a nice addition to professional cleanings.

While there are a lot of tricks we can teach our pets, brushing their own teeth is not one of them. Alas, this task falls to owners.

Get started with a pet toothbrush and paste

Look for a soft-bristled toothbrush (emphasis on soft) with small-diameter nylon bristles (hard bristles can damage the gums).

Goodheart sells toothbrushes. They’re also sold at pet stores. Some can be very large. So, if you own a cat or small dog, choose a finger brush or a brush developed specifically for cats, which also works well for small dogs.

Choose a toothpaste specifically made for pets. Goodheart recommends using one with the VOHC logo to confirm it’s been vetted by a trusted organization. Pet toothpaste comes in flavors that appeal to animals, such as beef or chicken.

Don’t use human toothpaste. It can contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. Even if your toothpaste isn’t sugar-free, it can have foaming agents that can cause an upset stomach if swallowed. So be sure to buy pet-friendly toothpaste.

Goodheart sells tooth brushing kits that include a finger brush (left). The VOHC logo (right) confirms the Veterinary Oral Healthcare Council has vetted a product as high quality.

Build your brushing routine slowly

Maintaining good pet oral health is easier than it seems! First, don’t forget your pet’s yearly dental cleaning at the vet. Second, add brushing to your routine.

This will be a gradual process. Ideally, you’ll start in the puppy and kitten phases. Yet, it’s still possible to build a positive regimen if you’re starting later in your cat or dog’s lifespan!

  1. Start by letting your pet lick the toothpaste off your finger.
  2. Next, introduce the toothbrush. Let your pet lick the paste off his or her new toothbrush.
  3. Graduate to brushing the teeth after a few days. Run the brush over the teeth for 30-seconds.
  4. Praise your pet at each step to associate brushing with a positive experience.

Brushing is the first step to keeping your pet’s teeth healthy. Rotten teeth cause pain and leads to tooth extractions as seen above.

Healthy mouths = healthy bodies

Healthy teeth keep bacteria out of your pet’s body and staves off pet dental disease. In fact, it helps prevent a lot of diseases! That’s because swallowed tooth bacteria enter your pet’s bloodstream and harms their organs (heart, liver, and kidneys).

So, while daily brushing is the first step to overall good pet health, it’s not a substitute for yearly check-ups and cleanings at Goodheart.

This is especially true for “smooshy face” dog breeds like pugs and Frenchies or cat breeds including Persian, Scottish Fold, and Himalayan. That’s because these breeds have the same number of teeth but crowded into a smaller space. Their teeth are twisted to fit and don’t have the protective gum tissue that normally surrounds each tooth. This results in lots of places where debris can linger.  Yearly dental cleanings at Goodheart are a must for these breeds.

100% of Goodheart docs don’t brush their pets’ teeth

You read that right! Yet, they all bring their cat and dog to the hospital once a year for an annual teeth cleaning under anesthesia. 

It’s OK if you can’t brush every day. Try it once in a while. Pet-specific toothpaste has enzymes to help break down tartar and prevent plaque. So a little brushing is better than nothing. We don’t want you to feel bad if your pet doesn’t take to it or you can’t fit this into your routine. Again, that’s why yearly dental exams and cleanings are so important. It’s a chance for us to see what’s happening inside your pet’s mouth.

We’re here to answer your tooth brushing questions. Need some advice? Ready to make your pet’s yearly check-up? Call us anytime. We’re here for you 24/7.

“If your pet is not comfortable with their teeth being looked at you can start with gently petting their muzzle. Once they are comfortable with that, you can start with pulling up their lip and running your fingers along their teeth.” – Dr Christina Suhr, Goodheart Cherry Creek

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