Pet Dental Month is like Christmas for us at Petsmile—we love giving the gift of healthy teeth and gums to pets, and seeing firsthand how our products enrich and improve their lives. By using Petsmile just once a day, your dog or cat could live an additional 3-5 healthy years. We think that’s something to get excited about—and a good reason to start brushing today.
While we understand adopting a new habit can be challenging, we have science and veterinary dentists on our side; Petsmile is the first toothpaste to be approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), meaning that this product is a must-have for healthy pets. This seal of approval indicates that Petsmile is safe, effective, and of superior quality—take it from us, getting this seal of approval is not easy!
But enough about us; February is all about your pet’s dental health, so we want to discuss a few ways you can improve toothbrush time for your pets. We believe that brushing your pet’s teeth doesn’t have to be a chore, and if you approach it with a new mindset, this can easily become your pet’s favorite part of the day.
So, whether you’re a first time brusher, or you’ve been brushing your pet’s teeth for years, these tips will help you take toothbrush time to the next level.
Playtime and Exercise
Exercise and enriching play is essential for the happiness of animals, so make sure your pet is getting the recommended amount of exercise every single day. Not only is exercise good for their body, it’s good for their mind too. Cats and dogs that don’t get enough exercise and stimulation are prone to developing depression, obesity, and behavioral problems.
So, what does this have to do with brushing their teeth? An animal that is stressed or anxious will not be as receptive to getting their teeth brushed—and lack of exercise can be a culprit. We recommend that your pet get some exercise a few hours before you brush their teeth, as this can relieve any excess energy or pent up anxiety your pet may have (and get rid of those zoomies).
While there is limited research on exactly how massage benefits our pets, veterinarians still highly recommend it—and your pets will certainly enjoy it.
In addition to relieving muscle aches and inflammation, it’s believed that massage can reduce anxiety in our pets—so, it certainly can’t hurt to give your pet a massage before a brushing session. Brushing your pet’s teeth can be a stressful experience for them the first few times, so reducing their anxiety beforehand is going to be incredibly helpful in this process.
When your animal is calm, see if they are receptive to a massage. Use gentle strokes, and allow your pet’s body language to tell you how to proceed—no need to do anything fancy or use any tools, your hands and a gentle yet firm touch should be enough to get the circulation flowing and help them relax.
A good massage will build trust between you and your animal, and help them associate toothbrush time with relaxation.
Choose a Relaxing Environment
The environment you choose to brush your pet’s teeth in is important; if you take them to an unfamiliar place, or put them in an uncomfortable position, you’re going to heighten their anxiety (and trust us, it’ll be impossible to get them to cooperate).
If possible, have them sit in your lap or in the lap of a helper. Set them up near their favorite toys, their bed, or a place they associate with safety. We definitely don’t recommend trying this out in the bathroom or in the bathtub—they probably haven’t forgotten the last time you tried to give them a bath. A familiar, comfortable, and inviting place should help them stay relaxed.
Soothing sounds can also be a great way to help your pets stay zen. Studies have shown that music is a great way to relax your pets, and apparently, dogs prefer reggae music. Try out some different tunes and see what your pet enjoys!
Treats and Praise
While we like to think of Petsmile toothpaste as a tasty treat, you may need to entice your pets the first few times to get them on board. Despite what you may think, using treats during toothbrush time is definitely okay, and it’s encouraged!
You don’t have to worry about treats counteracting the benefits of Petsmile’s toothpaste—our proprietary formula Calprox gently dissolves plaque and build up, so a few treats are not going to have any negative impact on the cleanliness of your pet’s teeth.
Remember, positive reinforcement and positive stimuli are the best way to get your dog acclimated to this new process. If you get frustrated, just give them praise, a few treats, and try again later. Negative reactions will only slow down your progress.
Easing your pet into new habits is incredibly important, so for first timers, it’s important to start slow. You can’t expect your pet to be perfectly ok with having a toothbrush in their mouth on day one, as it’s a process that can take days or weeks.
Remember potty training? That certainly didn’t happen overnight, and brushing their teeth will take some time.
Allow your pet to sniff, touch, and become acquainted with the brush before trying to brush their teeth. For the first few sessions, we recommend letting your pet lick the toothpaste off the brush, rather than trying to insert the toothbrush into their mouth.
The important thing is to go at your pet’s pace, and not rush them into it.
Stick to a Routine
Our pets thrive when we give them comfort and routine—that’s why it’s a good idea to find a time that works for you. We recommend brushing their teeth at the same time every day, so there are no surprises.
Preferably, you should brush sometime after their final meal of the day, but if this isn’t possible, it’s just important to set aside some time to make sure their teeth are brushed every single day. Find a time that works for you.
Sticking to a routine also makes it more likely that you will brush their teeth every single day, and for the health of your pets, this is what’s most important.
Brushing Techniques and Best Practices
Now that your pet is relaxed and thoroughly pampered, it’s time to perfect your brushing techniques! We have an in-depth dental guide you can download, but here are the basic tips you need to know for proper every day dental care:
- Put a pea sized amount of our toothpaste on your Petsmile toothbrush, cotton swab, or finger brush. In this case, less is more. You don’t need a ton of toothpaste for it to be effective—in fact, 2 tubes of our toothpaste should last you for an entire year!
- Brush at a 45 degree angle, using circular motions, ensuring that you’re hitting each tooth’s surface and the gum line.
- Work in sections. Start on one side, and work your way around until you hit every single tooth—yes, it really matters! You can break this up throughout the day, if necessary.
- Your pet’s teeth have grooves and ridges; make sure you’re getting into every nook and cranny for maximum benefit. Don’t neglect the molars in the back, as this is where you’re likely to find build up.
- Allow your pet to do the work. Their licking will continue to spread the toothpaste, ensuring they get a good coating throughout their teeth and gums.
- Praise your pet throughout the entire process, and use your most tempting treats. During training, it’s important to get them to associate the toothbrush with good things. You can start to phase out the treats once they are adjusted.
That’s it! We hope you find this guide helpful, and that your pets are feeling incredibly zen after you put all of those relaxation tips into practice. Be sure to check out our Instragram page this month to learn more about Pet Dental Month, and how to keep your pets healthy and happy year round.