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Tips for Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

Updated on February 25, 2008

Why You Should Brush

I know what you are thinking: it is silly to think a pet needs her teeth brushed. While dry food will help keep your pet’s teeth healthy, it isn’t always enough.

Both cats and dogs have a lifespan of about fifteen years, and some live longer than that. Their teeth need to last them throughout their lives. You know how uncomfortable and painful it is to have an infected tooth, so I’m sure you don’t want your pet to go through that.

My cat, Freya, opens wide.
My cat, Freya, opens wide.

Animal Dental Care

I suggest you ask your veterinarian to show you how to properly brush your pet’s teeth before you do it yourself for the first time. As well, your veterinarian can give you other tips to keep your pet’s teeth healthy.

  1. One option is to wrap a bit of gauze around your finger, and then rubbing it all over your pet’s teeth. If you choose this option for a cat, dip the gauze in something like tuna juice first. This will make your cat think she is getting a treat, making the teeth brushing more enjoyable. The second option is to purchase a special toothbrush for your pet—they make them for both dogs and cats.
  2. Never use human toothpaste on your pet. You know how to spit the toothpaste out, but your pet won’t. Purchase toothpaste that is made specifically for pet use—this way it will be safe for them to swallow it.
  3. Buy a flavor of toothpaste your cat will enjoy. That’s right, they come in different flavors. What will it be? Chicken, beef, seafood? What is your pet’s favorite?
  4. Dogs will usually enjoy having their teeth cleaned. I used to watch my grandma brush her dog’s teeth, and the dog had a great time. They enjoy the attention. Cats, on the other hand, don’t enjoy it quite as much. Similar to when you clip their claws, you will need to take them into a distraction-free, quiet room. It helps to have one person hold the cat while the second person brushes the teeth, but be sure not to forcibly restrain your cat. You want her to remain as relaxed as possible.
  5. Take your pet in for an annual cleaning by your veterinarian, similar to how you go to the dentist. Your veterinarian will be able do a thorough job, as well as check the health of your pet’s teeth.
  6. For optimum health, brush your pet’s teeth a couple of times a week.
  7. After each brushing session, pet your cat or dog, telling her how great she is.

Brushing your pet’s teeth is really easy once you get into the habit. It will save a lot of heart- and toothache for both of down the line. Remember that a healthy pet is a happy pet.


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    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      Reminds cats need a brushing.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub Stacie, I don't have a pet yet, but I will bookmark it for future use or if somebody asks me. You are right good teeth is very important not only for humans but also for pets. Thanks.