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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

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Mar 28

Pet Oral Health

Posted on March 28, 2017 at 10:04 AM by Doug Bolnick


Photo of a dog smiling and showing teeth
Brushing teeth prevents damage, improves hygiene and serves as a daily ritual for most. However, if you're a pet owner, do you extend this routine to your dog or cat?

Routine care for your pet, combined with regular visits to your veterinarian, will help to maintain a healthy mouth and minimize long-term problems. Signs of a healthy mouth include pink, not white or red, gums and clean teeth, without brownish-yellow tartar buildup.

Make Brushing a Pleasant Experience

Conduct regular checks at least once a week. Owners can make the experience more pleasant for their pet through constant praise and a calm setting.

To help your pet become comfortable with brushing, here are a few tips:

  • DO NOT pry your pet’s mouth open. Instead, you can softly pry apart the lips to access the gums and teeth.
    Click here to watch a video about brushing your pet's teeth.
  • Gently massage the teeth and gums with your fingers.
  • Introduce a pet-friendly, flavored toothpaste to your pet by allowing him or her to taste it from your finger before starting with a toothbrush. Your veterinarian can recommend toothpaste specially designed for your pet. DO NOT use toothpaste designed for people, as these can contain harmful or unpleasant ingredients.
  • Softly brush the outside of the tooth from gum to tip — starting with the upper row first — for a thorough cleaning.
  • To limit tartar buildup between brushings, chew toys and crunchy, easy-to-digest treats are a good reward.

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