As humans, we understand how important preventative dental care is. One way to help fend off dental disease in your pet (just like you do for yourself) is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. While there are a lot of tricks we can teach our pets, brushing their own teeth is not one of them, so that task falls to us as their owners. Take heart, however, because although it may sound like a daunting task, brushing your pet’s teeth is not as hard as you might think.

Let’s Get Started 
As a member of your family, your pet deserves to receive the same attention to her teeth as you would give to your kids’ teeth. Ideally, you want to begin dental care when your pet is a youngster. Before you begin brushing, ask your veterinarian to examine the condition of your pet’s teeth. Starting with a clean slate is important, so your veterinarian may recommend a professional dental cleaning. From there, brushing your pet’s teeth at home can also help keep periodontal disease at bay.

Time to Brush
Veterinarians recommend brushing your pet’s teeth every day. The only two things you need are a toothbrush and a pet-friendly toothpaste.

For the toothbrush, look for a soft-bristled toothbrush with small-diameter nylon bristles. The toothbrush should also be sized appropriately to fit your pet’s mouth. Toothbrushes can be purchased at pet stores, but some of these can be large. For a pet with a smaller mouth, you might try a human pediatric toothbrush, a finger brush, or a toothbrush developed specifically for cats (these also work well for small dogs).

For pet-friendly toothpaste, make sure to use toothpaste made specifically for animals. Human toothpaste can contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. Even if your toothpaste isn’t sugar free, it can contain foaming agents that can cause stomach upset if swallowed. As an added bonus, you’ll find that toothpaste for pets comes in flavors that appeal to animals, such as beef or chicken.

It Gets Better with Time 
Practice makes perfect! And brushing your pet’s teeth is not the exception! It may seem like a challenge at first. However, after a few weeks of working with your pet, you will find that brushing her teeth becomes as routine as brushing your own. In the end, helping to protect your pet’s health is worth it.

For any other questions, contact your pet’s team at Oakland Animal Hospital and we can help you learn more about your pet’s dental needs.

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