Date updated: 23 11 2018
The cleaner the teeth, the sweeter the greeting: the first thing you notice when your best buddy jumps up to say hello! And as if banishing dog breath wasn’t motivation enough, there are loads of other health reasons to keep those gnashers in top working order.
Watch Everypaw’s very own vet Anna demonstrating the easy way to check and clean your dog’s teeth.
Great dental health: here’s why you shouldn’t let it slide…
A crowded mouth, too much plaque, gum disease, ulcers and abscesses, cavities, chips and breakages… virtually all of the dental disasters that humans have to deal with from time to time can affect our canine friends, too.
Thanks to better diets and medical treatment, our furry friends can now live well into their teens. This is pretty sweet news - but those extra years of chewing and chomping mean a lot more scope for dental wear and tear. Here’s why you should keep on top of it…
Your pooch can't point out a painful tooth
The only way you’re going to find out if there’s a chip, a sore gum or anything else in need of attention, is to get in there and have a look. Dogs will instinctively hide any discomfort if they can - so by the time they show physical pain, the problem’s likely already pretty advanced.
Sort it before it’s serious
In terms of consultations, repair work, medication and follow-ups, a bad case of infection can be complicated (and expensive!) to treat. Prevention - i.e. good dental hygiene - definitely pays off, as does treating problems quickly before they grow into something serious.
Dogs get teething troubles too
Just like us, dogs have a set of infant (deciduous) teeth before their adult teeth come through at about 6 or 7 months. Sometimes these teeth don’t fall out as they’re supposed to and can cause overcrowding, weakened teeth, tooth decay and loss. As a rule, baby teeth that are still present at 7 months should be pulled by the vet.
How to spot a problem…
A healthy dog mouth looks a lot like a healthy human mouth. If everything’s in order, here’s what you should find…
Doggy dental care the easy way
If you’re doing it right, proper dental hygiene should become an important part of your doggy’s life; something that’s as much a part of their routine as their daily walk. Introducing an element of reward and playtime, you can build a positive association around it. In your buddy’s mind, teeth brushing could be something to look forward to.
Stick to the right diet
A good quality feed should help slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional edible treat - but just stick to dog-specific treats that are formulated to help keep canine teeth healthy.
Stock up on chew toys
Why do dogs love chewing so much? As well as having a calming effect, having something to gnaw on can help clear away soft tartar and massage the gums. So a decent supply of vet-approved chew toys can help make teeth cleaning easier.
Brushing: the right tools for the job
Do not use human toothpaste! Fluoride is actually poisonous to dogs - so you need a specially formulated dog toothpaste. As for the brush, it should be easy for you to move it around and make it possible for you to access all areas of your buddy’s mouth. It might mean experimenting with small finger brushes and longer-handled versions to see what works best for you and your buddy.
Brushing: choose the right time - and take it easy!
Ideally, you’ll be brushing your dog’s teeth once a day. If they’re just not into it, brushing is going to be a struggle - so choose a time when they’re most likely to be pretty relaxed. Right after a walk is a good idea.
For puppies and adopted dogs not used to brushing, ease them in slowly. In the early days, it’s ok if the brushing sessions are very quick; your aim is to get your dog used to the process. As they get more comfortable with it, there’s more scope to be able to do a proper job; accessing the back and front of all teeth - as well as cleaning the gum line.
Time for a check-up?
Your buddy’s teeth should be checked by a professional once or twice a year - although this doesn’t necessarily demand a special trip to the vet. If your dog undergoes a routine health check-up once every six to twelve months, a dental exam should be included.
Keeping on top of all of this is part of ensuring your buddy enjoys a happy, healthy - and toothache-free life.