Teeth

A lovely smile and fresh breath is a great attribute to a healthy dog. Dogs’ teeth need brushing just like our own to avoid dental disease, and it prevents doggy breath too.

Gum and periodontal disease can be extremely sore, even though most dogs will tend to hide their pain due to their wild ancestory. Cleaning their teeth is the best way to keep their mouth healthy and pain free, although there are other options.

Brushing

You will need: a double sided toothbrush designed for dogs’ mouths, and some pet-friendly toothpaste, such as the ones by EzyDog. You can get liver, peanut butter and many other flavours to make the whole process a lot easier for you and tastier for your dog, but make sure not to use human toothpaste. It can be toxic to them if swallowed.

How to:

  • It is important to start slowly as your dog learns to have his teeth brushed. Start by simply using a finger to touch the outsides of his teeth, and his lips and gums. You can place something tasty on your finger for him to enjoy as you do so.
  • If your dog is accepting of this, you can move on to gently touching his teeth and mouth with the toothbrush. Remember to move slowly, and only start for a few seconds at a time. Practise this in several short sessions a day, gradually increasing the length of time you expect him to put up with it.
  • Once your dog is happy to stand and have his teeth touched in exchange for a treat, you can begin to use the toothpaste. Just use a little at a time, and start with only small periods of time, as he acclimatises again. It is a strange taste and experience for him to get used to. You can experiment with different flavours to see which one your dog likes best.
  • In the same way, you can progress to gently opening his mouth and cleaning the insides, as well as his back teeth and gums. Remember to increase the difficulty for him very slowly. If cleaning his teeth has become a battle, it is because you have moved too quickly through the steps.
  • Eventually he will learn that cleaning his teeth does not have to be a negative experience, instead a necessary, if perhaps boring, time with a nice reward at the end.

Alternatives

If cleaning their teeth is too traumatic or time consuming for your lifestyle, there are other options.

  1. Buying specially designed dental food will play a large role in maintaining teeth health. Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care or Royal Canin Dental kibble are designed to clean their teeth as they eat, through the use of large, cross woven pieces that clean the tooth as it enters, or with specially added enzymes to remove plaque build up. Try to avoid feeding soft foods, as these get stuck in even the smallest holes, and contribute to the build up of bacteria.
  2. Use chews regularly, especially after feeding anything soft. Although more expensive than tooth brushing, it is a much easier way to rid their teeth of plaque. Try Dentastix, Greenies or Zukes Z-Bones. Raw bones will also help in cleaning of their teeth in a manner similar to the chews.
  3. Teeth cleaning products can be added to their drinking water, such as Plaque Off. It contains special enzymes that will break down plaque in the mouth, and is a convenient way to help with dental hygiene.
  4. A professional cleaning by a vet once a year will keep their mouth in top shape, but it can cost upwards of $300 and usually requires an anaesthetic. It is wise to get a dental check done with their annual check up, to keep on top of any problems that may develop.
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