Come Clean: How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Don’t be discouraged if the training process is slow. For some pets, brushing may not be an option if it causes too much stress or an epic wrestling match to get it done. In this case, talk to your veterinarian about alternate home care options, including antiseptic rinses and dental diets.

Training for Cats

For cats, the best strategy is to place your pet on a stable surface beside you and to approach from behind the head. As with dogs, start by letting your cat lick the toothpaste off your finger. There are several flavors that cats will usually accept, such as poultry or seafood. Slowly incorporate the toothpaste into a session of chin and ear scratching. The face rubbing can progress to gently lifting the lips, applying toothpaste to the tooth surfaces, and massaging the cheek once the toothpaste is placed. Just as with dogs, your veterinarian will need to treat any existing periodontal disease, and you’ll need to give your pet adequate healing time before she’s ready for daily brushing.

Cats have individual tastes, so try several different methods, such as brushing, finger brushing, using dental gels or just wiping along the teeth with a gauze pad.

Ask the Experts

Your veterinary team is a great resource. Team members can help you choose the most appropriate home care plan for your pet, give you a brushing demonstration and share their tips for success.

Daily brushing is considered the gold standard of at-home care, and every attempt should be made to include brushing in your pet’s home dental care routine. But using a combination of brushing, veterinary-recommended dental chews, special diets, and even oral rinses may allow you to fit regular home care into your busy lifestyle.

Dr. Heidi Lobprise is a board-certified veterinary dentist at Main Street Veterinary Dental Clinic in Flower Mound, Texas.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of HealthyPet magazine.

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