February is pet dental health month! Dental care is such an important part of our pet’s overall health, and it’s funny that a lot of pet parents underestimate it. During my years as a pet care provider, I’ve seen very responsible owners with dogs that never miss a vet appointment, a vaccine booster, spayed/neutered, physical exam every year, wellness plans, but they just completely skip the dental part or forget to look into their dog’s mouths. To be 100% honest I used to be one of those pet owners, it was like “wow! I never thought about my dog’s teeth” I only became aware of dental health a year ago (2021) this is embarrassing but I have to be real here.
My dog Cinderella is getting older (still young though) so as dogs get older you are going to start seeing that their teeth are not as nice anymore if you don’t take care of them. In my case, Cinderella gets a dental cleanse every year at the vet, and her teeth and gums look pretty good for her age. I used to think that water additives and dental treats were enough but guess what? Cinderella eats those dental treats in like 5 seconds, she doesn’t chew, she doesn’t taste them, she just inhales them so that only means that they won’t do anything for her. Dental treats only make a difference if the dog chews on them for a couple of minutes, when they chew those treats break the tartar that accumulates in their teeth/gum. We still had the water additive but of course, it’s not enough.
Long story short, after our last dental cleaning last year, the vet told me to start brushing Cinderella’s teeth (good luck with that) so I went online to read more about dogs’ teeth and believe, me those pictures on Google are not good to see before bed, I immediately thought that I’d rather die before my dog’s mouth looked like that.
My ego was yelling “YOU WORK WITH ANIMALS YOU SHOULD BE BETTER AT THIS” so I took action. I created a plan to start getting Cinderella used to teeth brushing. I basically put all my Fear Free Certification knowledge to work and came out with this routine:
My original plan for week 1 was to brush 1 tooth the first day, then 2, then 3, etc. But since she did surprisingly good we were able to brush everything.
-During the first week, I use gauze instead of a brush because I got the feeling that she wouldn’t like the brush texture, and it worked, I was able to brush her teeth during the whole week with no issues.
-This week we swapped the gauze pads for a silicone finger brush. It feels a little more like an actual brush but it is softer so I thought it was great for the transition.
-The original plan was to do a slow transition to the brush during week 3, silly me. There is no way to make Cinderella like the brush (yet) and I don’t want to simply force her because that’s going to make the teeth brushing experience worse so we are still using the silicone brush and hopefully will be using a real brush soon! but no rush I’ll let her take her time, the fact that she is leaving me to touch her mouth is a big win for me lol. However, if your dog does better go ahead and move to the brush!