Dogs have a great resilience to dental issues, however despite this they can still develop problems like tartar and plaque build-up and infections. Your dog’s dental hygiene is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy, and nobody likes to smell bad dog breath. As with humans, dog dental problems can lead to a whole host of issues from life-threatening infections to heart, kidney and liver disease.
If you are wonder how to take care of your dog’s teeth and are unsure of the warning signs of dental issues, this article will give you all the information on dog dental health.
Dog Dental Cleaning
Cleaning your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush is easier said than done and if your dog could do it themselves it would make dog ownership a lot easier. A dog toothbrush is much the same as one for humans, however the technique is slightly different.
What Dog Toothbrush Should I Get?
Before we go into the teeth cleaning process we are going to talk about getting the right dog toothbrush for your canine. If you haven’t got a toothbrush for your dog yet you will find that there are a wide range of brushes to choose from. Here’s some tips to find the right brush for your dog:
- Dog brushes are completely different to a human toothbrush, so avoid using a human brush on your dog. A dog toothbrush is typically softer and the bristles are designed to give you easier access to the harder to reach areas of your dog’s mouth. If you have to use a human brush, make sure it is a soft child’s one.
- Choose the right size brush for your dog. A bigger dog is going to need a bigger toothbrush and smaller dogs will need a smaller brush that will fit in their mouths.
- If you want to be more precise use a finger toothbrush. These are brushes that fit on the end of your finger, however they can increase the likelihood of your canine biting you.
- Some dogs just don’t like brushes. If this is the case for your dog, you can use specially designed dental dog pads and sponges to clean their teeth.
Find a Good Dog Toothpaste
As with brushes there is a vast amount of choice when it comes to dog toothpaste and there are many different flavours to choose from. It may be beneficial to try a few different brands and flavours to find one that your dog likes.
Avoid using human toothpaste when it comes to brushing your dog’s teeth. Human toothpaste contains fluoride and sometimes other ingredients that can be toxic to your dog. Dogs that ingest human toothpaste can experience vomiting and possibly even kidney damage.
Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth
Before you start cleaning your dog’s teeth you need to get them comfortable with your hand in their mouth. Even when you are not cleaning their teeth make sure to frequently touch around your canine’s mouth and muzzle. This will get them comfortable with your hand around their mouth.
When it’s time to start brushing their teeth take it slow and let them lick some toothpaste off your finger. This will help you determine how well they like the taste of the toothpaste. Once your dog has tasted the toothpaste, gently rub some of it along your dog’s teeth and gums.
After you have done this it is time to bring out the toothbrush. Apply some toothpaste to the brush and let your dog lick the brush. Following this begin brushing your dog’s teeth in a slow controlled manner. Make sure you lift up the upper lip and reward your dog with a treat once you have cleaned a few teeth. Continue cleaning their teeth and rewarding them until all the teeth are cleaned.
Some other tips for Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth With a Toothbrush:
- If your dog is being difficult, try enlist the help of a friend or family member who can help calm and hold the dog.
- when you dog is being excessively aggressive or resisting too much it may be better to try another day. If this behaviour continues consult a vet or dog trainer.
- When you first start cleaning your dog’s teeth limit it to short one or two minute sessions. Once they are used to the feeling you can slowly increase the time from then.
- Make sure you brush and clean along the gums. Don’t forget the tongue as well!
- Praise and reward your dog with special treats.
- Make it routine. Brushing your dog’s teeth more often will result in better dental health and they will become more comfortable with it.
- Finally, try to brush their teeth after exercise. Your dog will be calmer and less likely to become agitated.
When Should You Start Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth?
As soon as possible! You should really be looking to start dental car when you dog is a puppy. They will become more comfortable with dog teeth cleaning if you start early. Puppy dental care is also important as neglecting it can lead to a life time of dog dental problems.
Pick The Right Food
Along with cleaning your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush, using dog dental food or dry food is an excellent way of keeping plaque and tartar under control. Crunchy kibble food is better for your dog’s teeth than soft food, which is more likely to stick to your dog’s teeth and cause decay.
If you are really struggling to clean your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush, the right dental dog food can be a good alternative.
Try Dental Dog Treats
Another great way of keeping your dog’s dental hygiene in check is to use dental dog treats. Dog dental sticks Pedigree’s Dentastix range are a great way of removing plaque and tartar build-up. You can even get a puppy dentastix so you can start cleaning your dog’s teeth when they are young.
Use Dental Dog Toys
Dental dog toys are a great way to keep plaque and tartar levels under control. There are so many toys from synthetic dental dog bones to the likes of the KONG Stuff-a-Ball. Always make sure you are giving your dog safe toys and avoid some hard toys that can cause tooth wear or breakages.
Giving your dog a good dental toy is an excellent way of getting rid of plaque and tartar, while keeping their teeth strong. Although toys are great, they are not a ‘do it all’ solution and should be used in conjunction with good food and teeth cleaning practices.
Imagine if you just chewed gum instead of brushed your teeth, it simply wouldn’t be enough to keep your teeth clean and it’s the same for your dog.
We’ve created a list of five of our favourite dental dog toys, so make sure you check them out here.
What To Look Out For
Now that we have run through some of the ways to keep your dog’s dental health in top shape, it’s now time to tell you some of the warning signs of dog dental problems. We have listed some of these problems below and if your dog experiences any of these a trip to the vets may be called for. Some of these issues can also be signs of other issues as well that are not related to your dog’s dental health.
- Change in eating habits or loss of appetite
- Drooling or dribbling that is considered excessive
- Teeth that are missing or misaligned
- Teeth that are crooked, broken or discoloured
- Bad breath
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Bumps or growths that are located within or around the face.
- Gums that are red, swollen or bleeding
- Pain when touching the gums
- Brown or yellow tartar crust along the gum line or on the teeth.
When Should You See a Vet
If you notice any of the signs above we recommend that you get your dog checked out by a vet, especially if it is something like bleeding gums, loss of appetite or a broken tooth. During your dog’s regular check-up at the vets they should inspect your dog’s teeth and if they don’t, ask them to.
Keeping your dog’s dental health in check will save you money in the long run and can prevent some life-threatening illnesses from popping up.
Try to always keep on top of your dog’s dental maintenance, as it can be a real money saver in the long run and might even save your dog’s life. Letting it go past a certain point can lead to costly and painful visits to the vet, and could lead to lifelong damage.
Summing up dog dental health
Keeping your dog’s teeth in good working order is one of the most important things to do as a dog owner. This article should be everything you need to know about dog dental health and what to look out for if you think your dog has dental problems. Keep your dog’s teeth clean and consult a vet if you think there are any problems.