Since February is National Pet Dental Health Month, it鈥檚 a good time to review your pet鈥檚 oral health. Here are some tips on how to start a dental hygiene routine with your dog or cat.

How to start a dental hygiene routine

         See your veterinarian

o   They can detect any periodontal diseases

o    Help determine the health of your pet鈥檚 teeth

         Get the right tools

o   Use a dog/cat toothbrush

o   Use dog/cat formulated toothpaste

  Never use human toothpaste. The foaming agent in fluoride can cause upset stomachs and other health problems

  Dog/cat toothpaste comes in flavors that could help the process

         Gradually introduce your pet to the toothbrush and toothpaste

o   Leave the toothpaste out so they can smell and taste it

o   Provide treats so they think it鈥檚 a good thing

o   Rub the toothpaste on your pet鈥檚 mouth, teeth and lips. Give them a favorite treat and praise them

  Do this for several days to a couple of weeks

o   Once your pet is adjusted to the toothpaste, introduce them to the toothbrush

  Put toothpaste on it and let them lick it off

  Use treats and lots of praise

         Once you鈥檝e gotten your pet to accept the toothbrush, start brushing in short intervals and use lots of praise

o   Then work up to a more thorough cleaning, 30 seconds or longer

o   Focus on the outside of the teeth

  The inside is less likely to have any plaque build up

o   The best way to get access is to stroke the side of their face and then run toothbrush along gum line at about 45 degree angle

         Try to keep it fun for your pet which will make it easier to do daily


If you don鈥檛 want to brush your pet鈥檚 teeth daily, there are alternatives to a toothbrush and toothpaste.

         Dental treats

o   Don鈥檛 forget this is extra calories. Feed your dog a little bit less to account for the calories in dental treats, so he doesn鈥檛 gain weight.

         Dog chews

o   Look for natural products that have a little bit of give to them like bully sticks.

         Raw bones

o   Raw, meaty bones, on the other hand, are a great option to help clean your dog鈥檚 teeth naturally.

o   Raw bones are soft enough not to splinter but tough enough to give your dog鈥檚 teeth and jaws a workout.

         Dental powder

o   Helps with plaque, tartar and bad breath

o   Sprinkle directed amount on pet鈥檚 food daily

         Chew toys

o   Chewing helps remove plaque and tartar as well as stimulating your dog鈥檚 gums.

o   Look for soft rubber toys with interesting textures that can help scrub in between your dog鈥檚 teeth.

         Dental spray

o   Dental spray could be an option if your dog won鈥檛 let you put your fingers in his mouth.

o   Dental sprays can help with bad breath, but they contain enzymes to help battle plaque, tartar, and gingivitis.

         Dental wipes

o   If your dog tolerates you putting your finger in his mouth but won鈥檛 let you upgrade to a toothbrush, dental wipes may be a good option. A dental wipe will help you stimulate your dog鈥檚 gums better than with just your finger

o   It鈥檚 also less messy than putting toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it around your dog鈥檚 mouth.