Did you know that brushing your pet’s teeth will lengthen your pet’s life? It sounds amazing, but it is true. A regular home dental care plan will aid in battling periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can lead to liver, kidney and heart disease in older pets. Starting home dental efforts is easiest when your pet is a puppy or kitten. Good dental habits will keep your pet’s mouth healthy… and help them liver longer, happier lives.
Two Sets of Teeth
Puppy and kitten will have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The set of baby teeth will erupt at three to six weeks of age. These baby teeth will fall out and be replaced with an adult set of teeth by six months of age. Initial steps of home dental care should start as “brushing” training at six to twelve weeks of age. Exposing your pet to tooth brushing at this age will teach your pet to enjoy and accept it.
Start Puppy & Kitten “Brushing” Training
Start dental exercises within a day or two of bringing your new pet home. This early “brushing” training does not actually involve a toothbrush or pet toothpaste, but will teach your pet to permit having his or her mouth area handled. Initial training will only involve contact with skin, not actually the tooth or gum area.
Using your finger, pet the muzzle area along the side of the nose. Rub your fingers along the muzzle and whiskers. Repeat this on the other side. After your pet is used to having the top of the muzzle handled, start petting the bottom muzzle. Start along the front and rub your finger along each side. Gradually work up to the lip area.
Cats may enjoy this contact since facial rubbing is a naturally part of their play with you. Do not let your pet bite your finger during dental exercises, even if it is soft or playful. Such behavior is not useful, and is an undesirable mouthing behavior. If this occurs, stop your brushing training, say “No,” wait, and then resume petting facial area.
Brushing training takes patience, so go slow and build upon short good experiences. Make this dental training fun and part of the social time you spend with your pet. Reward your pet with praise or treats along the way.
Keep Up the Good Work
After one to two weeks you will be able to “pet” the gum area with your finger or even a soft bristled toothbrush. Keep initial contact with the gums and teeth brief and limit to 30 seconds. Practice these brushing exercises every day so it becomes habit and part of your pet’s daily life. For adult pets, the ideal brushing frequency is once a day, every day! By the time your pet reaches six months of age, home dental care will be easy and fun.