San Jose Pet Parent’s Guide
Brought to you by the veterinarians and staff at Story Road Animal Hospital
How To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Confession: Not all veterinarians brush their own pet’s teeth.
Veterinarians know brushing is best, but there are some cases when it’s just not going to happen.
The good news is you can now find a wide range of food, treats and rinses which can help you to keep your pet’s mouth as healthy as possible in between professional cleanings.
Rather than another article listing a bunch of products, we thought it would be more fun to arrange this article in the order of pets’ personalities. Scroll down to find the personality which best describes your pet, and we’ll recommend the dental care products we hope will work for you.
Cujo or Catzilla
Okay! Okay! We hear you.
If your pet may bite, scratch or harm you, the best (safest) at-home routine may be to offer a veterinary approved dental diet or chew.
Dental Diets (kibble) and Dental Chews
Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d (teeth diet):
Hill’s uses a honeycomb like structure to ensure the kibble does not simply crumble into tiny pieces.
The strength and texture, combined with the larger than normal sized kibble, helps to ensure the food has a chance to rub against the teeth as the pet continues to chew – before the pet swallows it.
Depending on each pet’s individual needs, your veterinarian may recommend adding just a few t/d kibble on top of the regular food, or to only use as treats.
Purina Veterinary Diet DH (dental health):
Purina DH has a patented kibble that has been shown to help reduce plaque build-up.
**Please note: The only way these diets or chews will help your pet is through mechanical action. And in this case, “mechanical action” means the kibble or chew must physically rub against your pet’s teeth in order to do any good. If your pet gulps or just swallows kibble without chewing, these products won’t work for your pet.**
Another option is veterinarian approved chews, but be aware that not all chews are created equal; some can cause gastro-intestinal obstructions because they may swell up much larger than their normal size (two times, three times, even four times their starting size when dry) inside the moist environment of your pet’s stomach, most contain known cancer-causing chemicals, and ALL chews can be choking hazards.
C.E.T. has a chew called HEXtra Chew which has the added benefit of being coated with a patented 10% solution of chlorhexidine gluconate, which sounds strange, but it is not harmful and can really help reduce plaque before it cements into hard tartar on your pet’s teeth.
HEXtra chews may ‘seem’ like a treat, but they are a dental health product and should be used only as directed by your veterinarian.
**Please keep in mind we are talking about rubbing away plaque from your pet’s teeth NOT about giving treats or toys. There are much safer and less expensive alternatives if you want to give your pet treats (like raw baby carrots) or toys (like rope toys). And never leave your dog unattended with any chew. As we said above, they ALL are choking hazards.**
Did you know we now have veterinary approved dental health chews for cats? Ask your vet for recommendations based on your cat’s individual needs.
If you would say something like, “I tried brushing my dog’s teeth, but she won’t stay still, and my cat nibbles my fingers like a warning he could bite me if he wanted to.”
Yep. We hear you and you are not alone. Most pets will fit into this personality style category.
In addition to the diet and chew ideas above, you may be able to help your pet by using one of the veterinary approved oral hygiene rinses.
The C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Rinse contains chlorhexidine and comes with a handy-dandy-bent-neck-nozzle so you can quickly flip-the-lip, then squeeze and squirt.
Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation for the right product for your pet’s individual needs.
If you might say something like, “My dog will let me do anything because he just loves the attention, and my cat barely opens her eyes as I gently rub on her teeth during nap time.”
We hope you know how lucky you are.
Although your pet may still need professional dental cleanings, you will likely be able to extend the time between cleaning FAR longer than pet owners with pets who won’t tolerate at-home care.
Be sure you use veterinary approved toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste on your pet because it is toxic if swallowed.
Veterinary toothpaste has come a long way in the last few years. You can try a few different flavors to see which one your dog likes best (hint hint – poultry and peanut butter are more popular than mint).
In addition to the variety of toothpaste, you’ll also find a variety of toothbrushes. Ask your veterinarian which toothbrush is the best option for your pet’s individual needs.
Even with all of the yummy flavored pet-specific toothpaste (never use human toothpaste, it is toxic when swallowed), most cats don’t look forward to having their teeth brushed.
Sometimes, the best time to attempt this is when they are very relaxed – like after taking a sun bath, catnap, etc.
In addition to the variety of toothpaste, you’ll also find a variety of toothbrushes. Ask your veterinarian which toothbrush is the best option for your cat.