Brushing Pets Teeth and Oral Care Products

Any Amount Helps

If it seems daunting, remember that any amount helps, it could add years to their lives, and you’ll save a lot of money.  Your vet has to remove calcified plaque, but by brushing even every other day, you can prevent calculus from forming…and that means a lot more time between vet visits.  Veterinary dental cleanings are done under anesthesia, so it also means fewer times you’ll have to put your pet under for these procedures. Even brushing once a week or once a month will help. In between brushings, provide chews or dental toys to help scrape and stimulate the gum line, and use water additives to minimize dry mouth and bacteria. 



Enzymatic gels like Oratene Oral Therapy Enzymatic Gel are promoted as ‘brushless’ because the enzymes in the gel, once in the mouth, will circulate in the saliva, killing bacteria and inhibiting plaque from forming on the teeth. There’s no real substitute for the mechanical abrasion (scrubbing) that actual brushing provides, but we believe the enzymes in these gels, if used religiously every day, will help keep the bacteria down, and will soothe irritated gums. It’s the same formula for cats and dogs.  For noticeable results, use every night just before bed.  Squeeze a stripe of gel on your finger, and wipe into your pet’s mouth.  The gel will circulate in the saliva, and while it stays in contact with teeth & gums overnight, the enzymes will break down bacteria and plaque biofilm.  In the morning, provide a dental chew, bone or tendon to promote movement of softened tartar.


Water Additives

Oratene Water Additive & BowlUse a water additive to support your routine in between brushing. Put a couple of squirts in their bowl of fresh water every day, and you’ll bathe their gums and teeth in an anti-bacterial solution that kills bacteria and even breaks down plaque as they drink water throughout the day. Oratene Oral Therapy Water Additive uses a potent multiple-enzyme complex that prevents plaque from binding onto the teeth and kills bacteria.  It’s made by Zymox, and we’ve been impressed by the effectiveness of all of their enzyme-based ear and skin solutions, so inspite of the multi-syllabic ingredient list (which indicates synthetic compounds) we highly recommend Zymox & Oratene lines.  We also like Kissable toothpaste, breath foams, and Kissable Oral Care Water Additive.  It has aloe vera juice to soothe irritated gums, and baking soda to eliminate bacteria and clean the breath.  There’s fennel for freshness and stevia for sweetnessl in it as well, so it has an appealing sweet flavor.

Brushing Pets Teeth


There is a lot of great advice out there on getting pets used to brushing, and we won’t repeat it all here.  The basic points in brushing pets teeth are:  one, start young if you can…de-sensitize your pet to having their teeth and gums handled as a pup or kitten.  Two, make it fun…whether with a puppy/kitten or an adult, introduce brushing gradually, and provide treats for a reward every time.  Really bad breath and/or bleeding gums could mean gum disease, and you should have your vet take a look.  Do use an enzymatic or flavored dog or cat toothpaste (not human, as the flouride isn’t good for them) and/or treats.   For dogs for instance, try putting a little peanut butter on the toothbrush and let him or her lick it off as a treat, working up to spreading the peanut butter or flavored toothpaste right onto the teeth with the brush, and eventually actually brushing.  Or wrap your finger in some gauze, dip it in broth, and gently rub the teeth and gums.  At the very least try putting a brushless enzymatic gel like Oratene into the mouth just before bed every night.  As it circulates the mouth through the saliva it should soften tartar.  First thing in the morning, provide a chew or dental toy to help move any softened tartar.  For more info on how to brush your pet’s teeth, watch Dr. Karen Becker’s video on brushing teeth for cats, or read her article on Brushing Pet’s Teeth (she covers both cats and dogs).

About Kathy Palmer

I grew up in NJ and Belgium and eventually settled in Portland, ME. Until missing the big city, which inspired a return to Boston in 2010, and the opening of Fish & Bone on Newbury Street. Fish & Bone and its original sibling store Fetch (est. 2000) bring together some of the things I love the most: animals, real food, great design, having an impact, the natural world, urban life, creative solutions, good community, and a good laugh. Zip is all pug, but I'm a cultural mutt.