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Getting started with toothbrushing

Have you been thinking about starting a toothbrushing routine with your pet but aren't sure where to begin? Puppy- and kitten-hood is the best time to teach your pet to handle toothbrushing, but a pet is never too old to learn! Who says you can’t teach an old dog (or cat) new tricks?

Use these tips to get started:

  1. First, set yourself up for success by selecting dental products that are right for your pet. Choose a finger brush or toothbrush that is extra soft and small enough to comfortably fit in your pet's mouth. Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors, like liver and chicken, to appeal to your pet's taste. It also contains enzymes that help specifically target the bacteria and plaque in your pet's mouth.

  2. The road to toothbrushing begins by training your pet to get used to having their mouth handled. In a shy animal, you may need to start by simply lifting your pet’s lip and rewarding them for good behavior. Repeat this as many times as you need until your pet is comfortable with their lips being touched.

  3. Then, you can slowly progress to touching the teeth with your finger until the pet is comfortable. You can wrap your finger in a warm, damp paper towel or washcloth to start rubbing the teeth in the same motion you would with a toothbrush. Remember to keep rewarding good behavior!

  4. Next, introduce the toothbrush by slowly rubbing it on the surface of the teeth instead of your finger. Refrain from using toothpaste on the brush at this point so that the pet can get used to the sensation of brushing without dealing with a flavor at the same time.

  5. Introduce the toothpaste to the pet separately by placing a small amount on your finger and offering to let them sniff it or lick it off. Dab a tiny bit on their tongue or tooth to let them acquire a taste and reward them afterwards.

  6. Once the pet accepts the toothbrush, add the toothpaste to the brush. Brush in a circular pattern similar to brushing your own teeth.


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