For the majority of cat owners, the thought of brushing their cat’s teeth not only fills them with dread but may not even seem possible, and yet dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in cats.Laughing Cat

Dental disease, if left untreated can lead to bad breath, dental pain and loose teeth and systemic illnesses that can be life-threatening.

Ideally, getting your cat used to having their mouth touched and handled from a kitten is the best way to get into the routine of cleaning your cat’s teeth.  However, if you have an older cat and would like to start cleaning their teeth, there is a great 4 week programme that you can try.

To help with getting your cat used to having their mouth touched in preparation for building up to cleaning their teeth, take a look at this ISFM video which explains how you can do this

Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth Training Program Summary

Week 1: The cat becomes familiar with the smell and taste of the toothpaste and toothbrush.

Week 2: The cat learns to let you put toothpaste inside her mouth with your finger.

Week 3: The cat will learn to accept you putting the toothbrush inside her mouth.

Week 4: You will begin to brush your cat’s teeth.

In each step, you link the activity with a reward. Select a reward the cat really likes, such as: her mealtime, her favourite treat, getting a drink from the tap at the sink, etc. The reward should be something your cat already enjoys (in the video, the cat parent has a jar of baby food open and lets the cat lick it from the jar.  Please do make sure that whatever you choose isn’t toxic to them.)

Week 1

Put the toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste on the counter. Leave them out where your cat can sniff them.

The goal is to get your cat to accept the toothbrush as a familiar, non-threatening household item.

Each day put a tiny piece of toothpaste on your finger and let your cat lick it off.

If your cat is shy, go ahead and put a little dab inside their mouth, so they get accustomed to the taste of it.

Follow immediately with your cat’s favourite reward.

Week 2

Follow the same routine as Week 1, but this time apply the toothpaste onto one of your cat’s canine teeth with your finger.

Resting your hand over the top of your cat’s head, hold back your cat’s gum and put a dab of toothpaste onto a canine tooth, moving the gum out of the way.

Do this much every day for a week, immediately following the toothpaste application with a reward.

Week 3

Start getting your cat used to the toothbrush. Put some toothpaste on the toothbrush and let them lick it off.

If your cat is shy about licking it, go ahead and put some toothpaste near their  mouth, but don’t attempt any brushing at this point.

Always follow immediately with a reward.

Week 4

Resting your hand over the top of your cat’s head, gently stretch their lips far back enough to allow you to insert the brush into the space between the cheek and the gums.  Tilt your cat’s head up and back a little to get at those teeth.

Place the bristles of the brush at about a 45 ° angle to the teeth, aiming for the narrow crevice between the teeth & the gums. Gently move the bristles around to disrupt the plaque.  The direction of movement isn’t all that important.

Moving fairly quickly before your cat loses patience, work your way around the upper & lower teeth on both sides of the mouth, then, of course, immediately give the cat a reward.

You only need to brush the outside surfaces of the teeth. Cats don’t like opening their mouth to have the insides brushed. Fortunately, the tongue does a pretty good job keeping the insides free of plaque.

There are a couple of is a great videos showing each of these steps and learning how to clean your cat’s teeth.  Click the link HERE OR HERE

or scan the QR card to access the video on YouTube and if you would like any help or guidance on how to help keep your cat’s teeth in good shape, book in for a complimentary dental check with a vet and get a free dental health pack.

You can also download our feline dental care leaflet HERECat Teeth Cleaning Video


It’s always a good thing to get a puppy used to having their mouth touched and handled.  This can make it much easier to get into a good teeth cleaning routine.  However if you have an older dog and it’s something you’d like to get into the habit of, these tips will help you get them used to the teeth brushing process.

Tools – there are several types of toothbrushes available to buy but here are some things to consider when choosing:

  • You will need to be able to get to the back teeth so the brush head needs to be small enough to reach comfortably.Dog Cleaning Teeth Square
  • Finger brushes should only be used on a puppy when they have learned not to “puppy” bite. Reinforcing bad habits when your dog bites your finger in a brush, then gets rewarded with tasty toothpaste is not a behaviour you’d want to encourage.
  • Electric toothbrushes clean better than manual ones but you would have to get your dog used to the noise and feel of it.
  • Toothpaste – buy a few flavours so you can see which one your dog prefers. If they like the taste, it will make the process much easier.  DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE AS THIS IS TOXIC TO YOUR DOG.

To start with, get your puppy used to having their face and mouth handled.  You can do this by gently touching your puppy and rewarding them for not reacting (biting, pulling away etc).  If they do react, don’t force or correct them, just go more slowly.

This means figuring a way to touch your dog that does not provoke a reaction so that you can start to reward them, then slowly building up.  For example, try moving your hand towards your dog’s mouth but stopping about 6 inches from their body.  If they don’t move away, give a reward.  Work towards getting closer by desensitizing your dog to your touch but be patient.  With puppies, this can take a while!

Once you have got to a place where you can touch your dog without them reacting, work on:

  • tucking them under your arm to hold them lightly in place.
  • lifting up their upper lips
  • gently opening their mouth

Once you are in a place where your dog is comfortable with this, it’s time to introduce a toothbrush.

Show it to your dog and if necessary, use treats to get them used to it.  Look for any signs of nervousness but most dogs are used to having toys in their mouth and don’t mind chewing on a brush.

If you choose to use an electric toothbrush, hold it away from your dog and turn it on.  If they don’t react to the noise, give your dog a reward.  If you dog does react, you will need to go through a desensitization process as described earlier, until your dog is used to the brush.

Ready to brush?  Again, be patient and take it at your dog’s pace.

  • put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush head and hold it for your dog to sniff and hopefully lick.
  • tuck your dog under your arm and hold them gently.
  • gently lift their lips and brush the front teeth very gently for just a few seconds, then praise and release them for a reward (such as playing with a favourite toy).

Build up to working your way to the back teeth, trying in short sessions to begin with.  If your dog seems stressed, stop and try again another time.  Once you’ve established a full brushing session, try to keep it as part of their daily routine and they will come to expect and enjoy it.

If you’d like some guidance on teeth cleaning or oral hygiene in general, why not take advantage of a complimentary consultation and receive a free dental care pack.

Download our canine dental health information leaflet HERE


Rabbits Teeth

12 Mar 2019

Did you know that a rabbits teeth grow throughout its life?  Did you know that they can grow to up to 12cm in a year?

Rabbits teeth require regular care and treatment to avoid often fatal consequences.  Download our information leaflet HERE and if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s teeth or would like to take advantage of a complimentary dental consultation, call and get booked in.




7 Mar 2019

You’ve heard the phrase “dog breath” and it isn’t funny when Fido rushes in for a full on face lick and leaves a trail of warm, wet and positively stinky slime on your face.  This is a sure sign that perhaps the oral health of your pet isn’t quite what it should be.

When your cat or dog eats, bacteria, along with food, saliva and other particles, forms a sticky film called “plaque” over the surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Just as with humans, if plaque is not removed, over time it becomes tartar which irritates the gums causing gingivitis.

Gingivitis (reddening of the gums) can initially be very subtle, making gums more likely to bleed.  It can occur as quickly as 48 hours after cleaning when plaque formation will have begun. Dog Teeth Right BeforeDog Teeth Right After

Mild gingivitis does not affect the tooth root and brushing the teeth on a daily basis easily reverses most cases.

Moderate gingivitis is also very common. If plaque is allowed to form on the teeth then the gingiva will become more inflamed as time progresses.

Severe gingivitis can be very painful for both cats and dogs and can cause other health issues for your pet.

It is estimated that upto 85% of cats age three and over and 90% of dogs have some form of dental disease.  This is not only painful for your pet but can lead to other health issues so the best way to manage it is through prevention.

There are many ways in which you can, as an owner, incorporate a dental hygiene routine for your pet to reduce their risk of dental disease.  There are products available to help reduce the build up of plaque and with regular dental cleaning, your pet’s teeth should stay healthier for longer.  To find out more, take advantage of a complimentary dental consultation for advice and guidance.

According to the British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA), the majority of animals over three years old have gum disease that requires treatment.  There are clear links between poor oral health and disease affecting major organs so reducing dental and oral disease in pets is an important routine that owners should get into.

If your pet’s breath smells then it suggests that there is a problem somewhere in their mouths.  That’s why it’s important to regularly clean your pet’s teeth but also to have them regularly checked and cleaned by your vet.

If you have concerns about your pet’s dental hygiene,  take advantage of a complimentary consultation.  Your pet’s teeth and mouth will be checked,  you’ll receive a dental hygiene pack, as well as tips and advice on the routine dental hygiene processes you might want to implement for your pet.


Willow Higginson beforeWillow Higginson after


26 Feb 2019

We are really lucky to be able to work with some great specialists who can offer referral services at Rowan.  One of these specialists is Hannah Stephenson  who visits regularly to provide heart scanning facilities to help diagnose heart disease in cats and dogs in the local area.  We work with others so that our clients don’t have to travel to access this specialiast care.

Hannah StevensonClick HERE for her blog to find out more and if you have any concerns about any aspect of your pet’s health or would like to take advantage of one of our complimentary clinics, get in touch!

Respiratory Rate

21 Feb 2019

One of the monitoring checks our vets and nurses undertaken regularly in practice is respiratory rate (breathing rate). Knowing what is normal for your pet makes it easier to identify when something may not be quite right, and breathing rate is one of these identifiers.
But how do you know what is a normal breathing rate for your dog? The only way to find out is to learn how to measure their respiratory rate and 15. Geriatric dog photorecord it, and we’ve found a great little app that can help with this.
Please do be advised that this is not a diagnostic tool or an indication of the overall health of your dog, just an aid to help owners understand and learn what is normal for their own dog. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your vet.
Download the app HERE

Heart Disease in Dogs

15 Feb 2019

The most common disease of the heart in dogs is Mitral valve disease (MVD).  It can affect all breeds of dogs but is most common in small and heart_001medium sized dogs from around 4-5 years old.

Initially it might only be the detection of a ‘mumur’ through a routine health check that points to a potential problem.


Listen to what a heart mumur sounds like

Listen to what a normal heart beat sound like

Visit our YouTube channel HERE for a short video on MVD and the signs to look out for.  You can also download our information leaflet HERE to find out more.

If you have any concerns about any aspect of your dog’s health, call and book in to speak to a vet.






As with rabbits, heart disease in cats is difficult to detect.  It’s only when the disease is well established that signs might start to show themselves and even then, it’s not always obvious they have a problem. bengal-cat-1435179-s

So, what can you do as an owner?  Download our information leaflet HERE to find out more about the disease and how we can help you monitor the overall health of your cat.

Heart disease in rabbits is VERY difficult to detect as the symptoms are quite generalised, and it’s often detected only in the late stages of the disease when symptoms may become more apparent.
Life expectancy varies between breeds. Larger breeds such as French Lops and Continental Giants have a shorter lifespan and are classed as senior as early as 3-4 years old. Smaller breeds such as Netherland Dwarf may not be classed as senior until 8!
Picture 9
Many heart problems in rabbits are due to a diet too rich in fat or a lack of exercise. However, heart disease has also been observed in fit and active rabbits too.
So, how can you tell if your rabbit might have a problem? The more subtle signs might include loss of appetite and a refusal to eat, fatigue and intolerance to exercise. They may have an extended tummy, produce hard and dry faeces or have diarrhoea. Further along, they may develop a nasal discharge a deep cough or snore when they sleep. They may also breath more quickly or mouth breath (breathing with their mouth open).
You can find out more about rabbits and the care they need HERE and if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health in general, call and book in to speak to a vet.