So, you've taken your dog or cat to the veterinarian for professional teeth cleaning. As you know, it is an important part of your pet's health maintenance routine to get their teeth cleaned at the veterinarian at least once a year, just like it is for humans. Now, your beloved pet's teeth are nice and clean, plaque and tartar-free, and all shiny and smooth. Hopefully, no oral conditions were found that would require further treatment, like cavities, abscesses, or gum diseases. You are good to go until the next scheduled professional cleaning.
Just remember, your veterinarian's part may be done for now, but you still have work to do. Just like you brush your teeth, floss them, and do other things to maintain your oral health between visits to the dentist, your pet also needs oral health maintenance between those professional cleanings. Now that you've gotten your pet's teeth cleaned, what do you do to keep their teeth and gums healthy until the next cleaning?
1. Maintain a Regular Schedule of Brushing at Home
The most important part of oral health care for pets is brushing them regularly at home. While doing it every day is ideal, it might not be the most convenient option for you. Therefore, make a commitment to brush your pet's teeth a minimum of two to three times a week. An easy way to remember to do it is to do it on the same days and times each week, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, or Monday and Wednesday plus one weekend evening. If you make it a regular part of your routine, your pet will get used to it and it will become a regular and expected part of their routine, too.
2. Teach Your Pet to Accept Teeth Brushing
The best way to teach your pet to accept teeth brushing is to start them out with it at as young of an age as possible. When puppies and kittens are introduced to teeth brushing, it swiftly and easily becomes a normal way of life for them. However, if you have adopted an older pet, or if you are only just now realizing the importance of oral health care for pets and your pet is grown up, you will have to teach them to accept it.
There is a reason why veterinarians put pets under anesthesia to clean their teeth. Most pets do not take kindly to having their mouths forced open and their teeth poked, prodded, and scraped clean. The good news is that you can teach a pet of any age, even an elderly one, to accept and even enjoy having their teeth brushed.
- Give them lots of positive attention before, during, and after brushing their teeth. Pet them and praise them, and be ready with a dental health treat for them afterward. They will come to associate having their teeth brushed with good things, like love and attention from you, and a treat.
- Make sure your pet is in a comfortable position. Usually, just sitting them on your lap is fine with small pets. Position them with their back to you, and you can reach their mouth more easily. With larger pets, kneel down beside them, put an arm around them to hold them in place, and brush their teeth with your other hand, coming at their mouth from behind, like you would with them on your lap.
- Start out with just water. It's better than nothing and will get your pet used to having your fingers in their mouths. Just put some water on the end of your finger, and rub it around your pet's teeth and gums.
- Move your way up to a good-tasting toothpaste for pets. Once your pet accepts the water, choose a toothpaste for pets that tastes like a treat, and rub this on their teeth and gums the way you did with the water. Your pet will think it is a treat and will move it all around their teeth with their tongue, getting those pearly whites nice and clean.
- Work your way up to using a baby toothbrush. To really get your pet's teeth clean, you need to use a toothbrush. Those bristles are there for a reason, and it is to clean away all the debris on your pet's teeth, so they are as clean as they can possibly be. A baby toothbrush is small enough to easily fit in the mouths of most pets and usually won't alarm them. Because they are already used to the tasty pet toothpaste, applying it to their teeth with the brush instead of your finger should be an easy transition for them.
3. Give Your Pet Dental-Friendly Treats
What pet doesn't love getting a treat? If you are like most pet parents, you probably give your pets treats each day. Keep up their new dental health routine by providing them with dental-friendly treats. You can find them at most pet supply stores.
Dental-friendly treats won't promote cavities or other dental issues in your pet, they are usually formulated to scrub off any beginning traces of plaque and/or tartar, and most of them have the added benefit of freshening your pet's breath. They will love getting the treat, and you will be keeping their teeth healthy in between brushings and professional cleanings. It's a win-win for everyone.
4. Make Sure Your Pet Has Plenty of Water Available to Drink at All Times
Not only is having fresh, clean water always available to your pet important for their overall health, it is also important for their dental health. When they have clean water to drink whenever they want it, they are able to rinse out their mouths, cleaning away debris from meals that may lead to cavities and/or other dental issues later. It keeps their teeth clean between your regularly scheduled brushings.
If you follow these steps, your pet's teeth will be in good shape. And, if you are looking for a high quality, tasty toothpaste for pets, you can't go wrong with Petsmile pet toothpaste.