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Petsmile's Happy Healthy Pet Blog

How to Make Toothbrush Time A Breeze

How to Make Toothbrush Time A Breeze

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).

If you’re looking for some creative ideas to get your pets moving, check out these tips on different exercises you can do for cats and dogs.

Massage

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.

Start Slow

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:

  1. 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!
  2. Brush at a 45 degree angle, using circular motions, ensuring that you’re hitting each tooth’s surface and the gum line.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

5 Essential Dog Grooming Activities To Do At Home

5 Essential Dog Grooming Activities To Do At Home

Grooming your pet isn’t just about aesthetics (although it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a good looking pooch). When you regularly groom your dog, it gives you an opportunity to assess their overall health and well-being.

If you neglect to follow a regular at-home grooming schedule, you could miss the early signs of skin disease, tooth decay, and more.  

So, grab those nail clippers and toothbrushes—it’s time to give your pooch a well-deserved spa day. Here are the top 5 grooming practices you should conduct at home, and why they are essential for the overall health of your dog. 

Brushing and Coat Maintenance

Most dogs should be brushed once or twice a week to maintain a healthy coat—however, this will vary depending on the length and thickness of your dog’s fur. 

Why is a brushing routine so beneficial? The act of brushing distributes your pup’s natural oils, thereby protecting their fur and skin from drying out. This time with your pet can also alert you to any skin conditions, fleas, or mites that may be lingering below the surface—if you notice any lumps or irritated skin while brushing, immediately call your veterinarian.  

Before you purchase a brush, it’s important to keep in mind that dog brushes are designed to perform different functions. Here’s what you can expect from different dog brushes on the market:

Rake Combs

Rake combs are ideal for heavy shedding dogs with thick undercoats; think German Shepherds, Huskies and Golden Retrievers. These combs penetrate deep to remove dead skin, excess fur, and debris. Not only will this brush keep their coat healthy, but it also reduces the amount of fur they’ll leave behind on your furniture (thank goodness). 

Pro tip: Heavy shedding dogs develop an extra thick undercoat in the winter season. You may need to brush more routinely during this time period to reduce excess shedding. 

Slicker Brushes

Slicker brushes are designed for detangling medium to long fur. This brush is essential for breeds such as Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers, who have a tendency to become matted without routine brushing. A specialized de-matting comb may also be necessary if your dog has any stubborn tangles. Don’t forget to brush behind the ears, as this area has a tendency to become matted.

Grooming Gloves/Bristle Brush

If you have a dog with very short or fine hair, such as a Pitbull, Labrador Retriever, or Greyhound, you only need to brush every so often to release excess fur. Since they have such a short coat, grooming gloves or a basic soft bristled brush should do the trick to distribute those natural oils and keep their coat looking healthy. 

Most dogs generally enjoy being brushed; as long as you brush gently and create a calming environment, your dog will likely look forward to this special grooming time. It’s good for them, and good for you too. 

Bathing

You may be surprised to learn that bathing your dog actually isn’t much of a necessity when it comes to at-home grooming—in fact, when we bathe our dogs, we’re mostly doing it for our own benefit, and not theirs. 

So, how often should you bathe your dog at home? Most veterinarians recommend bathing no more than once a month, as excessive bathing can strip their natural oils and leave their skin dry and irritated. Unless your dog just got back from a romp in the mud or a dip in the lake, it’s safe to skip bath time until they’re noticeably dirty, oily, or smelly. 

And you can skip the blow dry—allowing your dog to air dry is much safer, as the blow dryer will dry out their skin and potentially cause them to overheat. A good towel dry with a microfiber towel should do the trick. 

Keep in mind, some dogs will need more or less bathing based on their health, coat length, and genetics, so consult your veterinarian on an at-home bathing routine for your breed. For example, hairless breeds or dogs with skin conditions will need regular bathing with medicated shampoo to stay healthy. 

Pro tip: A thorough brushing before a bath is always a good idea. You’ll remove excess fur and debris, while distributing the natural oils that protect their coat, so their skin won’t dry out during bath time. 

Nail Trimming

You’re not the only one who needs a regular trip to the nail salon; if you can hear your pet’s nails hitting the floor, then that means it’s time for a trim.  

While it may be intimidating at first, you should trim your dog’s nails about every 3-4 weeks. If you don’t trim your dog’s nails regularly, their nails may split or become infected—not to mention, overgrown nails can easily snag on area rugs or furniture, leading to a painful situation for your dog. 

Be sure to purchase a set of high-quality nail trimmers for your pet, and make sure you’re taking their size and age into account. If you use a small set of trimmers on a large dog, you won’t have enough force to get a clean cut. Always ensure you’re using the right size nail trimmer for your dog. 

Before you begin, associate your dog with the nail clippers and get them used to you touching and handling their paws (if possible, it’s best to start this early while they are still a puppy). A calm animal is more likely to relax and allow you to clip without incident. Use lots of treats and praise!

When your dog is relaxed and ready to let you clip, you want to ensure that you’re not going too short—your dog has sensitive nerves and blood vessels in their nails, referred to as “the quick,” and trimming too close will cause pain and bleeding. 

To avoid trimming too far, hold up your pet’s paw to ascertain where the quick begins (you can also use a flashlight if it’s difficult to see). As long as you trim below the blood vessel, your pet shouldn’t feel a thing. If you’re nervous about trimming too close, these clippers have a built-in quick sensor to guide you. 

If your dog’s nails are already overgrown, you may want to break up the trimming session over a few weeks, trimming just a little at a time. Trimming too much all at once can be painful for your dog, and you want to make this experience as painless as possible. 

Pro tip: Long walks and outdoor activities can also help to keep your dog’s nails worn down and healthy—maybe Roxy deserves that extra walk today!

 Ear Care

Dogs rely heavily on their ears to understand the world around them—did you know they can detect ultrasonic sounds, and that their hearing is 4 times better than our own? 

And yet, ear infections are one of the top reasons why dogs find themselves in the vet’s office. With a little bit of preventative care at home, you can avoid these painful infections and keep their ears healthy. 

It’s important to note that some breeds are more at risk. Dogs with floppy ears are more likely to develop ear infections because the folds in their ear provide ample humidity for bacteria and yeast to grow; so, if you’re the owner of a floppy eared breed (we’re looking at you Basset Hounds) then you’ll want to make sure you have an ear care routine at home. 

To keep your dog’s ears clean and healthy, you’ll want to gently wipe out the ears with a damp cotton ball or medicated ear wipes. It’s good to do this about once a month, or after any strenuous outdoor activity such as swimming. 

During this time, make sure the ear looks pink and healthy, and that the ear is free of excess hair, wax, and debris. If you notice any of the following, you should schedule a trip to the veterinarian: 

  • Strong odor
  • Redness, discoloration, or swelling
  • Pus or discharge
  • Excessive pawing or scratching at the ear

Pro tip: Much like with bathing, you don’t want to overdo your ear routine, as too much cleaning will do more harm than good. Your dog needs a thin protective layer of wax to keep their ears healthy.

Oral Care/Tooth Brushing

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention oral health, which is arguably one of the most important aspects of at-home pet care and grooming. Yes, your dog needs to have healthy gums and clean teeth just like you. 

So, how do you maintain your dog’s oral health? Aside from regular dental check ups at the veterinarian, you should brush their teeth at home at least once per day. If you fail to do so, then your pet is at risk for developing gum disease, tooth loss, and more—which can shorten your dog’s lifespan by about 3-5 years. 

To properly clean your dog’s teeth, you need to purchase toothpaste and toothbrushes specifically made for dogs. Our products are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, so you can rest assured that they are safe for your pooch. Focus on the gum line and areas where you notice plaque and tartar buildup. 

If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you may think “my dog will never sit still for that,” but with a little training and positive reinforcement, your dog will be sitting and staying in no time (also, our delicious flavors certainly help). If you’re looking for some training advice, be sure to check out our previous blog post on training your pet to get their teeth brushed. 

And the best part? Our key ingredient Calprox ensures that your dog’s teeth will be cleaned even with minimal brushing—you can coat their teeth with a cotton swab, and their tongue will do the rest. You can even put a little toothpaste on their favorite chew to help keep their teeth clean. 

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day is a simple and effective way to add healthy years onto their life—so be sure to load up on Petsmile before you go. Your dog (and your veterinarian) will thank you for it!