In the same way you look after your own teeth, you also need to look after your dog’s teeth throughout their life. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a dog’s teeth to be neglected which can cause significant problems at a later date. Read on for your in-depth guide on how to take care of your dog’s teeth, including dog teeth cleaning tips and general maintenance.
Dog teeth problems
If you are unaware of the signs or don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be hard to notice when your dog has dental discomfort. With most dental problems your dog will probably continue to eat normally, wiggle its tail, and not act out of character. It’s therefore extremely important to get to know what are the main dental problems faced by dogs:
Top 5 most common dental problems faced by dogs
- Bad breath – this is perhaps the first sign that your dog is suffering from poor dental health.
- Toothache – like humans, dogs can also get toothache. It is often very difficult to try and spot this but it can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog.
- Mouth ulcers – these can form when there is already a build-up of plaque and it rubs against your dog’s gums resulting in the formation of mouth ulcers.
- Gum inflammation – also known as gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums is reversible. It is caused by a build-up of plaque and you’ll be able to see that your dog’s gums are more red than usual.
- Periodontal disease – gingivitis is often seen as the precursor to periodontal disease as if it is left untreated it will develop into this irreversible dental disease. Forming plaque, it will attack your dog’s teeth and gums causing inflammation and affecting the structure of the teeth.
You should, therefore, check your dog’s mouth on a regular basis to see if you can spot any dental diseases. Look out for reddening, bleeding or swelling gums, the build-up of tartar on your dog’s teeth as well as drooling.
How to brush your dog’s teeth
As well as taking your dog for annual dental examinations you should brush your dog’s teeth on a daily basis, but if you can’t do that then you should try for at least 3 or 4 days a week. This will reduce the chances of oral diseases developing in your dog’s mouth. You can use the following steps to brush your dog’s teeth:
- Take time to get your dog used to your hand being close to their mouth by stroking its cheek back and forth. If you have a new puppy you should do this, two or three days before brushing its teeth for the first time. If you have an older dog, it may take a little longer.
- Put some dog toothpaste on your finger and let your dog lick it off to get used to it before running your finger along their gums.
- You can now start putting toothpaste on the toothbrush and letting your dog lick it off the toothbrush.
- Now that they have grown accustomed to your finger being in their mouth, the toothpaste and toothbrush, it’s time to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Start by laying your dog on its back, this will make their teeth easy to reach whilst you kneel or sit next to them. Clean the front teeth first in circular motions allowing your dog to lick the toothbrush every so often. They’ll see this as a reward.
- After cleaning their front teeth and canines move to the back teeth, repeating the previous step.
- It should only take a couple of weeks before you’re brushing your dog’s teeth like a pro. As you get more comfortable with brushing their teeth, target the areas prone to build-up of bacteria and plaque where the tooth meets the gum.
If you have any questions, doubts or can see that there is a build-up of plaque you should contact your vet as they will be able to provide you with help, tips, and advice.
How to clean dog teeth without brushing
There are a few options you may want to consider to mix-up your dog’s dental care so you aren’t just brushing their teeth every night. Here are some great alternatives:
- Oral spray – when you next visit the vet or pet store, ask for a recommended dental spray for your dog. They help to keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh and provide essential enzymes to help break down plaque.
- Mouth rinse – as you can’t expect your pooch to do a good rinse and spit, add a dog mouth rinse to your dog’s water. They have natural ingredients which help to break down plaque and tartar as well as reduce the build-up of bacteria.
- Gel – if your dog doesn’t have an issue with you putting your finger in its mouth, a gel is a great addition to its dental routine. The gel reduces bacteria, tartar, and plaque and is more effective than an oral spray as it coats the teeth for longer.
- Bulls Pizzle –similar to bones they help chip off tartar. After being chewed they soften and are therefore great for dogs with a sore mouth, older dogs or puppies.
How to remove plaque from dog’s teeth
Aside from brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis, there are a number of other things you can do:
- Dental treats – as your dog chews its dental treat it can loosen up the plaque and remove any debris.
- Dry dog food – the hard, rough surfaces on dry dog food rubs against their teeth as they eat which can help to dislodge any plaque naturally.
- Dog toys – toys with rough surfaces such as a rope ball can serve as a more natural alternative to a toothbrush
With both toothbrush and toothbrush-free ways to take care of your dog’s teeth, there’s no longer a reason why your dog’s dental care should be a secondary consideration.