Brushing Your Cat and Dog’s Teeth – Yes You Should!

October 31st 2018

By Katie Berry, RVT

Why should I brush my pet’s teeth? 

Dogs and cats have the same issues people have when it comes to their teeth. But, plaque, calculus, mobile teeth and gum recession can cause pain that can often go undetected for some time because our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling.
You have to look for signs, like decreased appetite, extra drooling, swelling around face and awful breath to identify dental issues, which can leave your pet in pain for longer than you’d like.
Brushing regularly can prevent the dental disease and discomfort it can cause and also saves you money in the long run for dental work that can add up. Extractions can be costly but needed and make it more difficult for your dog or cat to chew their food.

Can I just give them dental chews or raw bones? 

Dental chews and bones can help clean your dog or cat’s teeth, however, cleaning their teeth with a toothbrush daily is the most effective way to prevent plaque build up and dental disease. Also bones if we’re not careful can break teeth and that can cause for an extraction as well.  

What should I use to brush my dog or cat’s teeth?

There are dog and cat toothbrushes that are appropriate to their mouth size and shape on the market. Dog and cat toothpaste is also available in flavours specially made for them. The toothpaste must be free of fluoride as this is toxic. You can find pet toothbrushes in pet stores and vet clinics. 

Use a small toothbrush or your finger with a cloth to start them off and get them use to you being in their mouths. Then graduate to a regular dog or cat toothbrush. Soon teeth brushing will become a habit and they think they’re getting a treat with the tasty toothpaste.

See our RVT Katie demonstrate how to brush your dog or cat's teeth in the videos at the bottom of this blog. 

How often do I need to brush their teeth? 

Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth daily is ideal. It helps them get used to having their teeth brushed and is best for keeping their teeth clean and healthy. Every second day is the minimum amount you should brush their teeth. Plaque starts growing within six hours and starts adhering to the teeth within 24 hours, this is why once a day is the best policy.

3 Steps to brushing your pet’s teeth

  1. Lift their top lip or lower their bottom lip with one hand.          
  2. Brush teeth with other hand using circular motions
  3. Brush the outside of the teeth only – you don’t need to brush inside a cat or dog’s mouth

Does my dog or cat’s teeth need professionally cleaning?

Even when you brush your dog’s teeth daily, it is best to have your dog’s teeth checked annually by a vet. They can assess your dog or cat’s teeth and evaluate if they need a cleaning or if they have any problem teeth.

What is the cost of a dental cleaning? 

Dental work can be costly, as it is in humans.

Getting pet insurance can help alleviate these costs, if you get it before there is problems. We cannot share our prices with you because of Alberta Veterinary Medical Association rules.

If you sign up for our pet registry we will email you our price lists. If you contact our clinic we can let you know of our on-going dental promotion.
In the end, brushing your pet’s teeth combined with regular dental care is what is recommended, just like it is for you and me!


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