Time to talkabout homedental care?
A kitten climbing on a dog
Time to talkabout homedental care?

Although the majority of vets and veterinary nurses state that they always/often recommend toothbrushing, less than half of owners report receiving a recommendation.1

Reasons for this discrepancy include:1

  • Verbal communication only, which owners tend to forget
  • No practical demonstration by vet
  • No equipment (i.e. toothbrush) given
  • No follow-up after initial conversation
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Research suggests that most owners who don’t brush their pet's teeth daily would consider doing so, if they were given better support and information.1

Start the first conversation with a client

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The first step of any conversation about oral care should be to help the client recognise its importance. They need to want to take action, rather than being told what to do.

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Help clients to recognise the signs that their pet may be experiencing dental pain, such as bad breath, having a strong reaction to drinking cold water, pawing their snout after eating and eating away from their bowl (due to negative associations). Explain that pets may still be suffering from pain and discomfort even if they don’t show it.

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Individualise the conversation wherever possible. For example, rather than saying ‘90% of dogs have periodontal disease,’ focus on the likelihood that their dog is suffering and what the consequences may be.

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Ask friendly, open-ended questions to encourage conversation about individual pet behaviour. These may include ‘What do you notice when your pet eats?’, ‘How does your pet’s breath smell?’ or ‘What types of food does your pet prefer?’

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Relate the client’s own personal hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth twice a day, back to recommendations for their pet.

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Clients are more likely to follow specific instructions, such as ‘Your dog will benefit from using this toothpaste and toothbrush at least once a day.’

Keep the conversation going

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In each conversation, use consistent terminology that reflects the importance and scope of oral disease prevention, diagnostics and therapies.

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Work with clients to create a ‘roadmap’ for their current oral care routine and how they would like to progress it in future. Written instructions can help them keep on track and facilitate discussions at follow-up visits.

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Reinforce the benefits of good oral care in each conversation, assuring clients that they are sparing their pets from day-to-day pain and discomfort as well as the long-term complications of dental disease.

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After dental cleaning, arrange a follow-up appointment for 10–14 days later, when clients are less focused on post-anaesthesia care and more receptive to an ongoing dental care plan.