Dogs and cats have baby teeth just like us. These deciduous teeth fall out and are replaced by bigger, whiter, not-as-sharp adult teeth beginning about 16 weeks of age. Most dogs and cats have their full set of adult teeth by 6-8 months of age.
Start practicing good dental care right away with your pet's new teeth. It will be much easier when your pet is a puppy or kitten, than when a pet is larger and older, but beginning a good dental hygiene program is possible and important at any age.
Step 1 – Select an appropriate time.
Find a quiet, convenient time when both you and your pet are relaxed.
Step 2 – Acquaint your pet with the process.
For the first few sessions don't even use a toothbrush. Gently stroke the outside of your pet's cheeks with your finger. After your pet becomes comfortable with that, place a dab of toothpaste on your finger and let your pet taste it. We usually suggest starting with C.E.T. poultry-flavored toothpaste because most pets like this taste best. C.E.T. also makes a beef and seafood flavor.
Step 3 – Introduce the toothbrush.
Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. (Be sure we show you all the different kinds of toothbrushes for pets!) In a slow circular motion, brush one or two teeth and the adjoining gum line. The purpose of this step is to get your pet accustomed to the feel of the brush in its mouth.
Step 4 – Begin brushing.
Over the next several days, gradually increase the number of teeth brushed. It is important to eventually brush the rear teeth where plaque and tartar have a greater tendency to accumulate. Go slowly and gently.
Stop brushing when you decide to stop, ideally before your pet begins to fuss. If your pet dislikes the brushing and learns that fussing makes you stop sooner, then this brushing business is going to get harder, not easier.
Build up to about 30 seconds of brushing per side. Dogs and cats don't get much tartar on the inside surfaces of their teeth, so you only need to worry about the outside surfaces. Be sure to brush the big teeth way in back.
Make brushing a pleasurable experience!
Proceed slowly and gently. Stop each session while it is still fun and lavishly praise your pet afterwards. Your pet will soon start looking forward to brushing and it will become a pleasant activity for both of you.
Brushing your pet's teeth helps prevent dental and periodontal disease which can be painful and harmful to the kidneys, heart, liver and other organs. You will also be promoting fresh breath – a bonus for everyone!
If you have questions about brushing your pet's teeth, or general questions about your pet's dental health, call us at (978) 453-1784. We also offer professional veterinary dental cleanings and procedures at Linwood Animal Hospital.