Dental Care for Dogs

Dog holding toothbrush

Looking after our dog’s teeth is just as important as looking after our own.

Your dog’s teeth have a LOT of work to do; not only used for eating, they use their mouth to play, explore and taste their surroundings too.

Why clean your dog’s teeth

If your dog’s teeth are not regularly cleaned, they can become covered in plaque. Plaque is a type of bacteria that lives in your dog’s mouth, and which give off a type of acid that eats into the surface of your dog’s teeth. Over time, this can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities and gingivitis (gum disease). Gum disease can leave dogs more prone to infections that may even affect other organs in the body.

Signs your dog has dental disease

Dog with dental plaque buildup

Dental disease can be extremely painful for your dog and it can have a big impact on their quality of life. Signs of dental disease may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow/brown coloured teeth
  • Red or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty eating or not wanting to eat
  • Rubbing or pawing at their mouth
  • Dribbling
  • Weight loss
  • Dropping food their mouth
  • Blood in water/food bowl
  • Pain when you try to examine their mouth

If your dog shows any of these signs, speak to your vet. They’ll be able to advise the best course of action for your dog.

Tips for good dental hygiene

As with most things in life, prevention is better than cure and just as it is the case with use, brushing your dog’s teeth is the most effective way of removing plaque. You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth once daily with a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste (never use toothpaste intended for humans as the fluoride it contains is extremely poisonous for dogs).

How to brush your dog’s teeth

Golden retriever having teeth brushed

If your dog’s teeth look like they already have a large build up of plaque, you should seek the advice of your vet in the first instance.

The first stage is to get your dog comfortable with having their teeth cleaned:

  • Choose a time when your dog is comfortable and relaxed. Gently stroke your dog’s cheek to get them used to your hand being near their mouth. Regularly lift your dog’s lips, open their mouth and run your fingers gently along the teeth and gums. This will get your dog used to the sensation and to know that nothing bad comes of it.
  • Once your dog is used to being handled around their mouth, introduce toothpaste on your finger. Start by allowing your dog to lick it off, followed by running your finger and toothpaste along the inside of their mouth, following the gum line.
  • After a few days of doing this and/or when your dog is comfortable allowing you to do this, you can introduce the toothbrush. Start by just showing them the toothbrush with the toothpaste on and allowing them to lick it.
  • Once your dog is happy with licking the toothbrush, you can start brushing those teeth! Start gently by brush the front teeth in round motions, stopping regularly to allow your dog to lick the toothbrush (to feel they are being rewarded).
  • The final stage is to move onto the back teeth, repeating the stopping and starting process.

After a few weeks, you should be able to gently brush your dog’s teeth without any fuss!