How to look after your dog’s teeth

Here we explain the problems of dental disease, how to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and top tips on how to safely clean their teeth.

Just like us, dogs have two sets of teeth and once they get their adult teeth they need to be cleaned regularly to keep them healthy. Here we explain the problems of dental disease, how to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and top tips on how to safely clean their teeth.

Dental disease is very common and can affect any dog, especially small dogs, Greyhounds and Brachycephalic breeds. These dogs are more prone to dental problems because of the shape of their mouths.

What should you look out for?

Signs of tooth problems can include bad breath, a sudden reluctance to chew or pick up toys, eat their food, increased dribbling and rubbing their face on the floor or furniture. If you spot any of these signs, arrange to see a vet straight away. Diagnosing the problem quickly will reduce the risk of your dog experiencing pain and needing medical treatment.

Preventing dental disease

Some dog foods and other commercial dog treats often contain large amounts of sugar, which can lead to a build-up of plaque on the surface of your dogs’ teeth eventually causing gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Feeding your dog natural raw foods and allowing them to chew on suitable raw bones can help keep their teeth clean.

While the action of chewing on appropriate bones can help clean a dog’s teeth, the best way is to teach your dog to accept having their teeth cleaned with a soft toothbrush and dog friendly toothpaste. If your dog needs extra help with their teeth, there are lots of products and supplements on market including Plaque off and oral hygiene gels.

Vets recommend cleaning your dog’s teeth daily if possible, but at least every 2-3 days should be enough to keep their teeth clean. You can use a soft bristled child’s toothbrush, a doggy toothbrush that fits on your finger, or a double-ended brush specifically for dogs. Make sure the toothpaste you choose is safe for dogs to swallow, human toothpaste containing fluoride is not safe for dogs.

How to clean your dog’s teeth

The ideal time to start cleaning your dog’s teeth is when they’re a puppy. Teaching them at a young age will help to build their tolerance and it’ll become part of their routine. You can introduce older dogs to having their teeth cleaned, just ensure you take things slowly. You will need a soft brush and plenty of tasty treats.

  • Start by gently touching your puppy on the mouth and feed them a treat. The idea is to build this up very slowly so the puppy learns that having their mouth touched, opened and examined is not anything to worry about.
  • Introduce the doggy toothpaste by putting a little on your finger and allow your dog to lick some off. Do this a couple of times before repeating but this time, using a toothbrush when you’re ready. Many toothpastes are meat flavour, so they should enjoy this!
  • Then gently begin rubbing the toothpaste on your dog’s teeth with your finger, to get them used to this sensation.
  • The next step is to gently lift your dog’s lip, place the brush against their teeth and give them a reward.
  • You might like to talk your dog through this process so they know what’s coming next. Using key phrases each time like “I’m going to lift your lip” and “Here’s the toothbrush” etc can really help keep dogs calm.
  • Incorporate teeth cleaning into your daily or weekly dog care routine and your dog will have shiny, white, healthy teeth for years to come.

Still need help and support?

If you have any questions about dental health or you have concerns about your dog’s teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact us for support.

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