In the not too distant past, many people would believe that brushing a dog or cat’s teeth was simply absurd. Furthermore, the idea of spending more money to clean their teeth than a human does for their own teeth was ridiculous. Things have changed greatly in veterinary medicine, and it is now common knowledge that dentistry definitely extends the life of our pets.
The process is, in fact, a little more complicated than in most human procedures. Your pet will not lie back and listen to the music of their choice with headphones. They will require general anesthesia and injectable pain medications. Without general anesthesia, thoroughly getting under gums would be impossible and getting quality x-rays would not be available for thorough diagnosis
The dental equipment is the same as in human medicine. I have high speed dental drills, high speed polishing equipment, ultrasonic dental scaling unit, periodontal medications for under the gums therapy and x-ray equipment designed specifically for dentistry.
The procedure usually can be done in the morning with admittance at 9 a.m. and release at noon. Of course, we want to do this as infrequently as possible. Brushing a pet’s teeth will minimize the frequency of the procedure. Here are some tips:
Plaque and tartar buildup are at the root of many dental conditions in dogs and cats.
By the time they’re two years old, 90 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have plaque and tartar buildup.
The keys to prevention are a professional dental cleaning with your veterinarian and daily home care.
PRO TIPS FOR BRUSHING YOUR DOG’S TEETH
Move slowly to gauge what your dog will allow you to do.
Let your dog taste the toothpaste by letting them lick it off your finger (or the toothbrush).
Gently hold your dog’s mouth closed with your nondominant hand. Using your dominant hand, rub some toothpaste on your dog’s upper and lower teeth. This step lets your dog get used to a little handling around the mouth.
After that, introduce the actual toothbrush into your dog’s cheeks. Brush on both sides — mainly on the outsides.
Tell them what a good dog they are!
PRO TIPS FOR BRUSHING YOUR CAT’S TEETH
Try working from behind your cat’s head.
Start slowly with basic face rubs or ear scratches.
Then, place a finger inside your cat’s lips, between the lips and the teeth, gently pulling back. This step mimics the action of brushing.
After that, you can use a toothbrush, or just a bit of toothpaste on your finger or on a gauze pad to brush against the teeth, using the other hand to scratch your cat’s ears, chin or another favorite spot.
Tell them what a fine cat they are!
WHAT SHOULD I USE TO BRUSH MY PET’S TEETH?
Talk with your veterinarian, and ask what they recommend for your pet’s home care. Be sure to use a toothpaste that’s formulated especially for dogs and cats. Many toothpastes made for humans aren’t safe for pets to swallow! A gentle toothbrush and an appropriate toothpaste are available at your veterinarian’s office.
Dr. Lamb is the Veterinarian at the Manchester Animal Hospital.