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Do I Really Need to Brush my Pet's Teeth?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2018
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Periodontal disease is very common in both dogs and cats. It is absolutely necessary to brush your pet's teeth regularly to help prevent periodontal disease. The best thing is that you need only spend 30 seconds a day brushing your pet's teeth to make a big difference in its dental health.

You do not have to brush your pet's teeth as thoroughly as you brush your own. Understandably, you are probably concerned your pet will resist the brushing and feel you will not have a lot of time to be able to brush them effectively. It really only takes about 30 seconds, however, especially if you concentrate on the area below the gum-line.

Always brush the outside of the upper teeth below the gum-line, as this is the biggest step you can take in preventing periodontal disease in your cat or dog. Crunchy pet food and treats that are healthy for teeth help to remove some of the daily plaque that builds up on your pet's teeth, but they are no substitute for the the time that you spend with a pet toothbrush. It is best to start brushing your pet's teeth when it is still a puppy or kitten, but there are ways to brush even the most spirited pet's teeth.

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You can brush your pet's teeth with less resistance if you follow the daily teeth brushing with a treat and/or a walk. Be sure to give the treat or walk immediately after the brushing, as you want your pet to associate the experience with the reward. Before you ever start to brush your pet's teeth, you should just let him or her eat some of the toothpaste. You can do that by feeding it to your pet on your finger and then making little circles under the gum-line with it. Again, you should be aiming for 30 seconds of brushing below the gum-line on the outside of the upper teeth, but it may take a while before your pet allows you to achieve this goal.

Never use human toothpaste or a human toothbrush on your pet's teeth. Human toothpaste is harmful even for humans if swallowed and may be very toxic to pets. You should not use baking soda either as your pet needs the special ingredients made to help remove plaque from animal teeth as well as the proper brush to suit animal teeth.

You can buy kits that have everything you need to properly brush your pet's teeth. Tooth brushing kits for dogs often include a toothbrush with two heads, a finger-brush, and either chicken or beef flavored toothpaste. Kits for cats usually have a toothbrush, a finger-brush, and either chicken or malt flavored paste.

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pleonasm
Post 3

@croydon - The problem is that there's no way to know whether or not your cat or dog is one of the lucky ones that won't have any problems until after their habits are established. So it's better to just make it a standard part of their day from the first day you get them.

It really doesn't take that much. The toothpaste is made so that they will enjoy it and if two people are willing to do this together it's easy enough to hold and soothe the cat or dog the first few times until it gets used to it.

croydon
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I think as long as you get a really good quality cat food that is made specifically to help with tooth plaque in pets then it should be all right. If your cat is a special case and needs extra care and brushing because of a genetic condition, then I think that you should do it, of course. But the average cat doesn't seem to have any problems and I doubt very many of them are having their teeth brushed regularly.

lluviaporos
Post 1

This is absolutely important, and that's true for some pets more than others. We had a cat from a shelter a couple of years ago who went for a vet check and the vet showed us that he had gum disease. Poor little guy was in constant pain from it, so we ended up having to get a couple of his teeth pulled.

Then I tried to brush his teeth every day. He really didn't like it, but I still tried. Unfortunately, I went away to college and my mother and father didn't really think he needed this extra care. Eventually he got so sick they realized they had to take him to the vet and the vet explained that

his gums were so bad that it was kinder to just put him down.

Now, this was a genetic condition, apparently, and was going to happen anyway, but I do wish that we had known about brushing his teeth sooner, because it probably would have prolonged his life and made him happier as well.

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