Why Do I Need To Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

What if we told you there was a way to increase your pet’s life expectancy and it would only take you a couple of minutes a day? 

Well, Dr Jan Bellows of the American Dental college believes your dog’s life span could increase by as much as 30% just by following a good dental hygiene routine!

Alarmingly, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have dental disease by the age of 3. 

Chances are, that includes your pet. Even more concerning is the unseen damage to your pet’s health caused by dental disease.

It is not just the smelly breath, unsightly tartar or hidden pain associated with sore gums and diseased teeth. A recent study by the WSAVA estimated the risk of endocarditis to be around six times higher in dogs with moderate to severe dental disease in comparison to dogs without it. Dental disease can also complicate diabetes, and even lead to broken jaws (weakened by infection) in smaller breed dogs and cats.  

Remember, most dental issues are NOT covered by pet insurance as this is considered a preventative issue! All the more reason to keep those teeth in good condition, help the family budget and avoid an operation!

This is not a scare tactic, these are medical facts. We have seen the heartbreaking consequences of these disease processes during many years in veterinary practice. Take a  look at the image below shared by the Blue Cross. Imagine if your beloved pet’s mouth ended up like this!


How about we work together to do something about it? Great, let’s get started and remember we are happy to help just reach out via our social media or email.

What if I suspect my pet already has dental problems?

As we know, our pets are masters at hiding pain, especially our cats. Despite being a cat only vet practice we missed the early stages of our own cat’s dental disease. You can read Marmalade’s Story by following the link.

Signs your pet may have dental problems include;

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Pain when eating or eating less
  • Weight loss
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cats not grooming
  • Unusual grumpiness when handling their head area

IMPORTANT FACT: MOST CATS ( and many dogs ) SUFFER IN SILENCE. If you do have any concerns you should always consult your veterinarian first.

How do I brush my dog’s teeth?

The best time to introduce a homecare routine is when your dog is young. Here is a quick video of Oliver demonstrating how to start brushing your puppy’s teeth!  However,  with a slow and steady approach, it’s never too late to start. We can send our step by step guide as a handy pdf to refer to, just ask

Equipment list

  • Doggy toothpaste.
  • A soft toothbrush or finger brush (Our kit contains both options and paste)
  • Two people at first.
  • A treat.

Step 1: Introduce the idea

Start by introducing the taste of toothpaste with a small amount on your fingertip our brush and allow your dog to sniff and lick it off.

Step 2: Gentle handling around the mouth

Gently hold the muzzle to keep his mouth closed, lift the lip and slide a finger covered in a small amount of toothpaste down the outside of the teeth. You should also have someone to assist you at first. One person to gently restrain your dog while you apply the toothpaste. 

Step 3: Introducing a toothbrush

Apply a pea-sized amount of paste to the toothbrush. Gently lift the lip and begin by running the brush down either side of the mouth, next brush the easily accessible teeth towards the front of the mouth.

Step 4: Don’t forget those back teeth

If your dog is happy and progressing through the steps next try brushing the teeth further back. You may need a smaller brush to reach and find it easier to allow your dog to open their mouth a little.

Step 5: Keep up the routine

The gold standard is once daily brushing, including all teeth. The small teeth at the front can often be most sensitive so you may wish to brush these last. 

Can I brush my cat’s teeth?

The most important step you can take to keep your cat’s mouth healthy is daily brushing to reduce the build-up of plaque. Of course, not all cats will tolerate having their teeth brushed, and owning our own cat-only practice we fully appreciate this is a big ask. 

The last thing we want is an injured owner or a moody moggie who now resents having their mouth handled. If your feline friend is resistant, stop. If you have a docile domestic shorthair follow our tips to introduce a routine. Only move on to the next step when your cat is happy, this is not a race to the finish. Sitting in the bathroom sink is optional!

Equipment list

  • Cat-friendly toothpaste.
  • A soft toothbrush or finger brush (Our kit contains both options and paste)
  • Two people at first.
  • A treat.

Step 1: Introduce the idea

Allow your cat to lick cat-friendly toothpaste from your finger (poultry and fish flavours are popular)

Step 2: Gentle handling of the mouth

Use a cotton bud to rub toothpaste over your cat’s teeth and gums

Step 3: Introduce a soft brush

Try introducing a soft bristle brush to gently clean the teeth, only a few seconds for each side to start. 

Step 4: Build up brushing time

Slowly build up the brushing time

Take a look at our video of vet Sarah showing you how to clean your cat’s teeth 

My pet won’t let me brush their teeth is there anything else I can try?

All is not lost, approach your veterinary team who will more than likely offer nurse appointments to help kickstart your toothbrushing skills. Remember, we are happy to help too. 

Any small victory is a win, persevere and don’t lose heart if it’s three weeks later and so far you have managed steps 1 and 2. This is still an improvement on before! It also means you are paying attention to your pet’s mouth and more likely to spot the early signs of any problem in the oral cavity.

Although not as effective as daily brushing, they are other options for your pet. Ask your vet team about dental prescription diets and chews. These are formulated to help remove plaque from the surface of your pet’s teeth as they chew. 

For those pets who do not tolerate homecare and handling of their mouths it would be sensible to book regular dental checkups with your vet team. 

We are currently developing our exciting KISSCatCare and KISSDogCare preventative health schemes. KEEP IT SUPER SIMPLE –  a monthly weigh-in, exam and photo of your pet’s teeth all carried out by you at home with our help. Stay tuned for more details soon!

Anaesthesia free dental procedures … are they safe?

We often get asked our opinion on anaesthesia free dental care. Although this may sound stress-free and less risky than an anaesthetic this is not the case.

The service is often offered by non-veterinary qualified staff and involves restraining the pet and using a sharp tool to scrape tartar from the teeth. If you have ever had a scale and polish yourself I am sure you can appreciate this can often be a painful procedure in itself. 

The RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) considers that “anaesthesia-free dental procedures” for cats and dogs, are not in the best interests of the health and welfare of patients. 

In summary, “anaesthesia-free dental procedures”: 

a) cannot allow full oral examination to be performed and vitally important diagnoses may be missed or delayed; 

b) do not allow full and effective cleaning of the most important sub-gingival areas; 

c) may actually cause damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth; 

d) may cause discomfort, pain and/or distress to the animal; 

e) are likely to delay clients accessing effective, proper oral care; 

f) if performed under the guise of a “Dental Treatment” could be considered misleading; unless the owners are made aware of the inadequate and potentially injurious nature of the procedure. 

What are Petstoreo’s Top Tips to Takeaway?

Start off slow and steady and ask for help if you need it!

  1. Chose a time when your pet is relaxed.
  2. Have toothpaste, brush and a treat ready.
  3. If your pet becomes stressed, STOP!
  4. End on a positive note and reward.
  5. Consult a vet if you notice any problems.
  6. Remember, Pets need WET’s – weigh, exam and teeth every month!

Remember, we cannot use human toothpaste as fluoride is harmful to our pets!

We are in the process of researching and producing a new dental kit, more details coming soon! Our complete dental care kit contains everything you need, follow the link to take a look via our online store.