1. Ideally, you should start training when your pet is a puppy or kitten. They are much more adaptable than adult dogs or cats. If you start with a young animal, you can usually progress more rapidly through the training phases. When your pet is comfortable with one phase, continue on to the next with the goal of using a toothbrush to brush the teeth daily. Some pets may take months to train (especially cats) while others may become comfortable in a week or two.
2. If at any time your pet becomes frightened and struggles, stop what you are doing but continue holding you pet until it is calm enough to either try again, or release. You never want your pet to struggle away from you while you are doing any procedure because this will teach it that struggling results in the procedure not being done. Successful escape will positively reinforce your pet to struggle for procedures it doesn’t like in the future. If your pet becomes frightened or upset by one phase, consider going back to the previous training for a little longer.
3. Giving a food treat after each training session makes it a more positive experience and works well for many dogs and some cats.
4. The CET toothbrush kit is ideal for training since it has everything you need to take you through each phase.
5. Perform each phase for a few minutes each day until your pet is comfortable, and then continue to the next phase.
PHASE 1: Start by rubbing your hand over the cheeks and sides of your pet’s closed mouth so that it gets used to your hands on its face.
PHASE 2: Insert your finger into the mouth and rub the sides of the teeth with your finger. Make sure you go as far back in the mouth as you can so you can reach the molars.
PHASE 3: Place toothpaste on finger and brush in circular motion at gumline. Caution: Pet toothpaste is flavored and tastes good. Your pet will try to eat the toothpaste and may make chewing motions. Make sure your fingers do not get in between the upper and lower teeth while your pet is chewing. Also, only use pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste has fluoride, which is toxic if swallowed.
PHASE 4: Use the soft rubber finger brush with toothpaste.
PHASE 5: Introduce the toothbrush with toothpaste.
Hint: Keep your pet’s mouth closed during brushing and you will have more success. Use your free hand to hold the muzzle closed.
*** A few animals may never be able to tolerate a toothbrush in their mouth. In these animals, try wrapping a 2″ x 2″ piece of gauze around your finger and use that as your abrasive surface to apply toothpaste.
Brushing is by far the best approach to maintaining a healthy mouth. However, there are other things you can use to supplement brushing.