Home dental care success!

Brush your pet's teeth? Veterinarians recommend it but do you do it? It can be challenging to start, but once you master it your pet will benefit from improved dental health. Following these steps can help in more successful pet dental brushing.

1. Choose the right toothbrush. If it is difficult to hold, the head is too large (or small) or hard to clean, you won't use it. Try a few options and see what works best. Toothbrushes made for pets are best as they have softer bristles and can be angled to make it easier to reach the teeth. Finger tooth brushes can be beneficial for smaller dogs, cats or very wiggly animals that you are uncomfortable about putting a brush in their mouth.

2. Start slow. This is a marathon and we are in this for long term success. Rushing the process just leads to frustration. Start with peanut butter, or the water from a can of tuna fish, on the toothbrush and let the pet get used to licking the brush. Once they are familiar with the brush, then you can move to the next step. You can even start slow with the pet toothpaste by giving it on a treat before you begin adding it to the toothbrush. *DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE- MANY CONTAIN INGREDIENTS THAT CAN BE TOXIC TO YOUR PET.

3. Make it count. Once ready, start the brushing movement on the teeth. Do if for as long as they will allow and then reward them. Even 20 seconds is better than nothing. Make it a rewardable experience by giving them a treat afterwards. If you can't get all the teeth, focus on the canines and outsides of the back teeth. These tend to accumulate the most tarter so make your efforts count.

4. Start with a clean slate. If your pet already has dental tarter, brushing is only going to help prevent more but it will do little to remove what is there. Have your veterinarian provide a complete dental cleaning and then continue the care at home. Doing so may not prevent ever needing another dental but it can prolong the time between dentals, and help provide better smelling breath in the mean time.

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