Top Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

The importance of good oral hygiene is impressed on us as children. Make sure you brush twice a day. Use floss and mouthwash. Go to the dentist every 6 months. Oral hygiene is also very important for our dogs. Keeping our dog’s teeth and gums healthy is something you may not have thought about. While they can go and visit the doggie dentist if needed, if you’ve not taken care of their mouths, this visit may involve a costly (and painful) removal of bad teeth. So what can you do?

Simply put, brush their teeth! Introducing teeth brushing positively, at a young age, makes this much easier. Think about it, you’d rather they accepted the brush rather than tried to get away from it. Don’t jump straight in, they will probably find that too much to cope with. Allow them to get used to the brush being near them before using it on them. Using a tasty doggie paste will help them enjoy the experience. You can also teach your dog to rest their head on your chin – very helpful for keeping them in one place! Practice the “chin rest” (for a “how to” – separately to introducing the brush. Make sure your dog is comfortable with both before trying them together.

There are many different dog toothbrushes on the market – triple-headed, double-sided, and so on. Choose one that makes your task easier. Take a few minutes to look at your dog’s mouth. Do they have big teeth or little ones? Are there any puppy teeth? How long is their muzzle? Brushes with longer handles will be more suited for long-snouted pups. Smaller brush heads will be more suited to smaller mouths. If you don’t mind getting slobbery, you can use a finger brush instead. You can also use a normal toothbrush. Pick one with soft bristles – you don’t want to irritate your dog’s gums with hard bristles.

Whilst you can use a human toothbrush on your dog, regular human toothpaste is not advised. It may be sweetened for human tastes… this can include xylitol which is harmful to dogs. The taste and smell of mint may also be overwhelming for them. Most dog toothpaste is flavoured with canines in mind. Beef, chicken, bacon, peanut butter – more appetising for your dog. There are also DIY toothpaste recipes on the internet, such as combining coconut oil and baking soda. If you want to try one, be mindful of the ingredients. Make sure you are comfortable with what goes into it – this applies to the bought options as well.

Now we come to the elephant in a dentist waiting room – dental chews. Whilst dental chews may be beneficial to some, it’s a bit like just using mouthwash. What you may be doing is masking any issues by simply making their breath smell a little better. Relying on them can lead to your dog developing dental issues anyway. They often don’t last long enough to have any real impact, unlike tough chews. Raw meaty bones take a lot more chewing, which is how dental chews are meant to help. But even teeth that regularly chew raw bones will still need a good brush. It is also important to note that the act of eating kibble doesn’t clean the dog’s teeth. No matter what diet you feed, regular brushing is the only way to really help. Much like with us humans, dogs can get gum disease and gingivitis. Help them put their best paw forward and get brushing!