Steps for Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
Most important, always make this process a positive experience for your pet and for you. Always use praise, positive reinforcement, treats and play time as a reward for a session of brushing teeth and eventually you and your pet will look forward to it. This learning process can take time, anywhere from 1 to 3 months to complete all the steps and develop the habit, but don’t give up because the reward for your pet is a healthier life!
1) Pick a type of toothbrush and paste that works for you and your pet. (Don’t use human toothpaste, it’s not made to be eaten and could make your pet ill.)
2) Pick a time and place both comfortable and convenient to brush your pet’s teeth, this will help you form a consistent routine.
3) Put some toothpaste on the end of your finger and call out ‘treat’ while offering it to your pet. Once they have licked it off your finger use praise to assure your pet that they have done well, this will reinforce the behavior. (repeat this step for about a week, then proceed to step 4)
4) When offering the toothpaste from your finger, try sliding your finger around on their gums. This can be a slow process, slowly work from the front to the back of their mouth. If your pet starts to stress out over this, stop and give praise. Don’t force them to endure more. (Shift back and forth between this step and step 3 until your pet is completely comfortable with the process.)
5) Apply toothpaste to the toothbrush, and encourage your pet to lick it off, praise. This is also a good time to start lifting up the sides of your pet’s lips while they are distracted by the toothpaste. (Again, if your pet seems stressed by this process, shift back to step 4 until your pet is comfortable.)
6) Now, hold your pet’s lip and start sliding the toothbrush, with toothpaste on it, over the outside surface of the teeth. Slowly, day by day move from the front teeth to the back and speed up the brush strokes. (You don’t have to work on the inside of the teeth because the tongue helps keep them clean.) If this gets frustrating ease off and shift back to step 5 until you’re both more comfortable with the process
7) Last step, while brushing your pet’s teeth try to hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to their gums, this will maximize the plaque that you remove. Also, slowly lengthen the time you are brushing their teeth, depending on the size of the mouth an adequate brushing should only take 30 to 90 seconds.
(note; Always use toothpaste that is made for animals! Animal toothpaste is made with special enzymes that help break down the build up of plaque in an animals mouth. Human toothpaste can contain xylitol, fluoride, bleaches and foaming agents that are harmful to your pet if swallowed.)