Your cat or dog's teeth are looking pretty gross. They're filled with plaque and all sorts of bits of food, plus, your pet has bad breath.
You know how important good oral health is for your dog or cat, which is why you want to start toothbrushing for them. However, you aren't sure if you can use regular toothpaste to do it or if you need to buy a special pet toothpaste to complete the job.
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Before brushing your pet's teeth, learn all about dog and cat oral health and how to go about cleaning your cat or dog's teeth at home.
Why it’s important to brush your pet’s teeth
Frequently brushing your cat or dog's teeth is extremely important. According to VCA Animal Hospital, you should brush your cat's teeth at least three times a week. VCA Animal Hospital also says that it's a good idea to brush your dog's teeth twice a day. Dogs and cats need one professional deep cleaning per year at the veterinarian.
If you don't brush your cat or dog's teeth enough, they could get periodontal disease, which starts off as gingivitis and can progress and involve bony tooth sockets. Over several years, it can build up so much that it causes tooth loss.
Additionally, if there is tartar in your pet's mouth, it can go into other parts of the body and cause blockages that may affect other joints and organs. Bad oral health could also lead to arthritis and heart disease.
What toothpaste can I use on my cat or dog?
While it's critical to brush your pet's teeth on a regular basis, you want to make sure you're using the right toothpaste. This means you always want to opt for pet toothpaste. Do not use "human toothpaste" because the ingredients in human toothpaste can be toxic to your dog or cat.
For instance, according to the American Kennel Club, many human toothpastes are made of Xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that is very toxic for dogs. It can cause your dog's blood sugar to drop and lead to liver damage.
How to brush your pet’s teeth
When brushing your cat or dog's teeth, first give them a little sample of the pet toothpaste to see if they like it. Your dog or cat will be sure to enjoy a pet toothpaste that tastes like poultry or another flavor they like.
You can use a finger brush for your dog or cat, which is may be easier to use than a regular toothbrush. Slowly and gently brush their teeth for 30 seconds on each side while they are sitting in a comfortable spot and calm. For instance, you might not want to brush your dog's teeth after a bath since he'll be energetic and want to run around. When brushing, make sure you get all the teeth, especially the ones in the back where there may be a lot of buildup.
In addition to brushing your cat or dog's teeth, you can give them dental treats. While they should not be used as a substitute for brushing, these treats will can help get rid of plaque, and they massage and stimulate your pet's gums, according to Care Animal Hospital.
If you ever notice a lot of plaque, bleeding, or any other issues with your pet's mouth, contact your veterinarian immediately to get the problem checked out.
No, you should not use "human" toothpaste on your pet, as it can be bad for their oral health as well as their overall health. It's important to brush regularly with pet-safe toothpaste, and to get your pet a cleaning once a year. And if you see any issues come up, reach out to your vet for further help.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.