February is dental health month! Dental care is often one of the most glossed over subjects in pet health but also one of the ones that often looks us straight in the face. How often does your dog or cat sneak up for a lick or sniff of your face and you get a whiff of their breath?
One of the most effective ways to fight bad breath and tartar is by brushing. We brush twice a day so why not bring our pets into the routine! *Start with a fresh mouth by taking advantage of our February dental promo! 15% off the radiographs and scale/polish* Starting slow with the steps below can help ensure that brushing your dog’s teeth remains a positive experience, for you and your pet, and strengthen your bond together.
Use the toothpaste as a reward for basic commands instead of a regular treat. This reward-based system reinforces the positive behavior and helps make an association between the tooth paste and positive, happy, elated thoughts.
Once your pet has an affinity for the taste of the toothpaste, no we are going to graduate to the second step by conditioning your pet to be comfortable with your finger in their mouth. While you are relaxing with your pet, use your finger to rub your pet’s teeth and gums. Start with the teeth you can see, then slowly work your way towards the ones in the back. We are doing this without the toothpaste, just to make sure your pet will allow you to massage their gums and teeth. This can be done for a few seconds at first and slowly build up the time your pet will tolerate you doing this. Reward your pet after each session with the toothpaste that they have learned to love.
Once your pet is comfortable with you massaging their gums and teeth with your finger, you will add in the toothpaste as well. Do not forget to brush the teeth in the back, as this is often the first-place plaque and tartar can form. You can lift the lips to help facilitate this process.
Now that your pet allows you to massage their teeth and gums using your finger and the toothpaste, graduate to introducing the toothbrush. At first, just place some toothpaste on the brush and let your pet lick the toothpaste from it. We want them to be comfortable with how the brush looks, feels, and smells before we try brushing.
Now you should be all set to start brushing! Like with your finger, start by brushing the teeth in the front that are easily visible. Slowly move the brush towards the back teeth and lift the lips to get better access. Give your pet another treat (and perhaps yourself) as a reward for a job well done!
Don’t forget to call Sunshine Veterinary Hospital to set up a complimentary pre-anesthetic exam to take advantage of the dental promo. Spaces are filling up! Save your spot.