How to look after your dogs teeth. From an early age, We’ve had it drummed into us that the health of our teeth is very important. And its something that we all factor into our daily lives. And it’s no different for our beloved dogs, maybe even more important.
Dogs constantly use their mouth and teeth for things eating, playing and carrying to name a few so it is essential that we look after the teeth to keep our dogs happy and healthy.
I aim to cover some of the more important aspects of keeping your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy. from cleaning, tips and what toys/chews are best.
Why dental care in dogs is important.
Dog’s like us communicate with they’re mouths, they bark (talk), they eat, they chew look at our article on how to stop chewing, they open things with they’re mouths and teeth. They use them as daily tools as do we. But why is dental care just as important in dogs.
Well, dogs can build up plaque and tartar on the teeth like humans. This, if not treated can lead to further problems. The bacteria then can travel to the internal organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.
If untreated or uncleaned, the breath can become really smelly. This can be a huge sign that somethings not right. Weak teeth and tooth loss can lead to great discomfort for your dog especially when eating or chewing.
Also, this can lead to further diseases such as Canine periodontitis which is a bacterial disease in the gums, further down the line is gingivitis (gum disease), then we arrive at severe periodontitis, which may involve bone and/or tooth loss. So you can see why we need to keep our canines teeth.
How to look after your dogs teeth.
There are many ways in which you can go to help take care of your best friends teeth.
Make a regular check of their mouth. Look for any signs of discoloration or build up See below. do they show any signs of discomfort in the mouth area? Pain when eating, off they’re food or rubbing of the face will indicate there is something wrong. So get it checked out immediately.
Take care of the teeth yourself. Start a regular tooth cleaning routine. Slowly building up at first so they get used to it then progressing to every day. This is the best way to keep the teeth healthy and clean.
Buy them chew toys or teats that will help take care of their teeth. You can find these available at any good pet store or online retailer. They’re usually made of rubber and may have small rubber bristles on them. It can be a good idea to rub some dog toothpaste on these as this can help get on to their teeth while chewing and get to work on the mouth nasties. That’s is if your dog hasn’t licked it all off before then.
Get them checked by a Profesional. Regular check-ups are essential for your dog. They can often pick up any early signs of problems, Especially teeth. So take them for regular checks.
I always think that prevention is better than cure. So start looking after the teeth before its too late.
How to brush your dogs teeth.
The trick here is to ease them into it gently.
Don’t rush them, ever. Dog needs to associate this with being something nice and fun rather than being handled strongly and forced to have a bristle end in their mouth. They won’t like it at all and you’ll end up with a wrestling match.
Make sure you use a dog-friendly toothbrush. These are made different from human brushes. In that they often have an angled head with a longer handle for ease of use. And to make sure you get the correct contact with the tooth. They also have softer bristles so it’s not as rough on the gums.
Finger brushes work well also, these are just covers for your finger with small often rubber bristles. These are usually for smaller breeds as they can be easier maneuvered around your dog’s teeth and mouth.
Firstly Introduce your Dog to the toothbrush gently and easily. Let them Dog get associated with it sniffing & licking. The usual doggy exploring technique. Every time Dog makes contact with the brush give praise. Reward with a small training treat. If you are using your clicker whilst training then make a click every time Dog makes contact with the brush and reward with a treat.
It’s also a good idea to let Dog get used to the experience. Try (if they let you) to rub your finger gently around the gum line. This introduces them to the feeling of having pressure on the gum line and teeth. Remember always gentle pressure.
Next, introduce the toothpaste. Now never use human toothpaste on a dog. The chemicals in there that are fine for us but aren’t for dogs and shouldn’t be used. Dog toothpaste usually comes in meat flavors chicken, beef, etc. And they’ll love it. But always try and pick a flavor you know your dog likes. Remember to give praise when they make contact or lick it off.
Next, put some paste on the toothbrush and let them make contact, lick it off. Try and gently make contact with the teeth and softly make circular motions. Give praise and treat.
It’s always best to stop before they do. What I mean is introduce them in small steps for this. If they grow tired of it they won’t want to do it. Always make it a calm, fun experience that gets a good reward after.
These sessions may go on for a few days or weeks. It all depends on you and your dog and consistency.
Now that they have been introduced to it they enjoy or at least put up with having their teeth cleaned you can now get into a cleaning routine.
If allowed you can clean your dog’s teeth every day but even 3-4 times a week is great. Basically anything is better than nothing. set a time and try and stick to it. Maybe before your bedtime, so they can have they’re goodnight treat afterward.
Firstly gently lift your dog’s mouth and start cleaning in a circular motion if you can, but a straight motion across the teeth also helps. Try and get both upper and lower teeth but its more important to focus on the upper as this is where most of the plaque resides. Always be aware of how your dog is and if they appear anxious or upset then stop.
After the work is done give lots of praise and treats. Letting them know this is something to look forward too.
What to look for in your dog, spot the signs of dental disease.
These are just some of the signs that you should regularly check, even more so if you know your dog suffers from dental disease.
bad breath (all the time, not just after meals)
yellow/brown coloured teeth
red or bleeding gums
difficulty eating or not wanting to eat/
dropping food from their mouth
trouble picking food up
rubbing their face
blood in the water /food bowl or on their chew and toys
Always speak to a professional about your dog if you notice any of the above. They’ll be able to correctly assess and diagnose any trouble.