It sounds difficult, but brushing your pet's teeth can add years to their lives.

Dental issues are the #1 cause of health problems in older dogs. Starting a daily brushing routine at an early age can save lots of illness, pain, and money down the road.

Home Dental Care

You can purchase a dog or cat-sized dental brush at your veterinary clinic, online or at a pet store. These toothbrushes are typically smaller, softer and more flexible than people toothbrushes. You can also use a soft, rubber brush that fits over your first finger if that is more comfortable for you.

You’ll need to buy some canine or feline toothpaste. Manufacturers know that dogs and cats love the smell and taste of poultry and fish, so they flavor the toothpaste with either fish or chicken to make it more palatable for your dog or cat. Note: Never use human toothpaste with your pet, because it contains chemicals that may be harmful to her digestive system.

Here’s a good five-step brushing process:

  1. Hold your dog or cat in your lap and let her get comfortable.
  2. Once she is relaxed, gently raise her lip on one side of her mouth and begin brushing on the outer portions of her teeth. Always brush down away from the gum line so that you loosen any embedded food particles and push them out of the mouth.
  3. On the bottom jaw, brush up away from the gum line. You may need to open her mouth by gently pinching her two cheeks between your two fingers, but dogs and cats will generally open up on their own once they taste the toothpaste.
  4. Continue working your way around the outside of her teeth on both sides until you have brushed the entire mouth.
  5. You don’t need to rinse her mouth with anything at this point because the toothpaste is made to be eaten — there are no chemicals that can hurt her tummy. Allow her access to her water bowl once you’re finished.

Veterinarian-Approved Products

  • OraVet Dental Sealant - Merial OraVet Gel is applied once weekly to the outer surfaces of the teeth. It creates a barrier that helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup. It has been shown to reduce plaque buildup by 42%.
  • Dental Chews - We carry a wide variety of dental treats and chews for your dog or cat. In addition, there are some great over-the-counter treats and chews as well. See a list of approved treats for dogs and cats from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.